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Old December 8th, 2008, 09:37 PM   #1
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Warning: Transcend CF Cards and Mac Leopard OS

There appears to be a potentially fatal problem using the Transcend 32GB cards with the Mac Leopard OS. Apparently Apple rewrote some of the drivers which affect the USB and /or Firewire-800 connections. It appears that some Leopard based Macs may, in fact, permanently damage the Transcend 32GB CF card. We are not 100% sure of the cause, but an over-voltage condition, is one possible explanation.

So, in the interim, we recommend avoiding the Mac Leopard OS when using the Transcend 32GB card. On the other hand, we have no reported issues whatsoever, using the Tiger OS.

As soon as we have a better understanding of the issue, I will post an update.
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Old December 8th, 2008, 09:44 PM   #2
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I have twice received two Sony PMW-EX1 SxS cards back from a file copy session with a Mac system, also Leopard I think and they came back corrupted both times and had to be fixed and then re-formatted as the files would not come back up.

Unfortunately, I am not familiar enough with the SxS system to know if mismanagement of the system has not occurred at my end. However so far I have not had the same issues with copying to PC under Windows XP.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 07:48 AM   #3
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Ugh this is too bad since I have Leopard OS on both my machines and only own Transcend 32GB cards.

What do you suggest Mike besides going back to Tiger which I am not interested in doing?

Spoke too soon since I have not had a problem
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Last edited by Paul Cronin; December 9th, 2008 at 09:58 AM. Reason: spoke too soon
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Old December 9th, 2008, 09:43 AM   #4
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I'm running OS X Leopard 10.5.5 on a 17" Macbook Pro with all available updates as of 09-Dec-08 installed. I'm using 32GB 133x Transcend cards and the supplied USB card reader, and running firmware v.0.0.184.
I've run a few short tests this morning and haven't had any problems with the cards stopping working. Also I'm no longer having to format the cards in the XDR after I've viewed them on a Mac, which is great news.
If I do run into any problems I'll post in due course.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 09:56 AM   #5
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Also running OS X Leopard 10.5.5 and have not had a problem so I must be good to go.

I only format my cards in the Flash XDR since this makes sense to me to format where they record. The only thing I use the Mac Pro for is to transfer the QT files off the card on to the desktop using the Lexar FW800 reader then move to the RAID folder for the project. And on the Macbook Pro to grab the firmware updates using the USB supplied reader. Then go back to the Macbook Pro to remove the firmware once updated. Then reformat again on the XDR.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 10:24 AM   #6
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Paul and I just discussed his situation on the telephone and he agreed that it was ok for me to share our conversation.

Paul has two Macintoshes, a MacBook Pro and a Mac Pro, both with Leopard.

He has been using the Transcend 32 GB 133x cards successfully.

To be specific, he has been initializing his cards on the Flash XDR, recording, and then transferring his files via a Lexar Firewire 800 card reader to his Macs.

He has repeated this process six times, all successful, with no damage to his cards.

In his situation, we feel that it is perfectly ok for him to continue.

All electronic devices are subject to failure due to an overvoltage condition.

Transcend cards will fail on an overvoltage condition. The failure mode is that the memory controller chip on the card will become inoperative.

This is what we saw, when we examined two of John Fante's cards. John is running Leopard, but I do not know which specific version, and with which updates.

We do know that John's specific computer seems to be destroying his Transcend cards. They work fine in the Flash XDR, both record and playback, until they are loaded into his MacBook Pro. The cards are still fine, as the files are successfully transferred into his Mac.

Then, after John ejects his cards, they will not work in any device; not in the Flash XDR, not in his MacBook Pro, not in a PC. Upon our examination of his cards, we determined that the controller chip is inoperative.

We do not know, at this time, if this is a widespread problem, or isolated to a few computers.

We had one other incident where one of our users destroyed a card.

He was using a new Mac, a desktop we assume, which came with Leopard installed.
At the time, we could not determine the cause of the failure as it was an isolated instance.

In our lab, we have Leopard installed on only one Mac, an older G4, Power PC based, and we are not having this problem. The other Mac's in our lab do not currently have Leopard installed, and we are not experiencing the problem on these units.

We take this issue very seriously and are working to determine the cause and scope of these failures.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 11:16 AM   #7
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Is it possible that the problem of damaged Transcend cards only occurs on newer Macs that ship with Leopard, and not on older Macs that are upgraded to Leopard? Just a theory.

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Old December 9th, 2008, 11:50 AM   #8
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Both of mine came with Tiger and were upgraded to Leopard.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 01:03 PM   #9
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We received word that John Fante's laptop which resulted in several damaged Transcend cards was a couple of generations old, and was upgraded to Leopard, not shipped with Leopard.

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Old December 9th, 2008, 06:28 PM   #10
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I have used my Mac Pro once or twice without a problem with update downloads. I only dropped the updates onto the cards and do the formating on the XDR.

Does the problem occur when you format the Flash cards or at any time with 10.5?


Thanks,
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Old December 9th, 2008, 06:47 PM   #11
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Dear Douglas,

We do not think that the problem has to do with formatting the CompactFlash card.

If I remember correctly, John Fante formatted his cards in the Flash XDR.

It seems that the process of ejecting the card, using the normal procedure may be the problem or related to the problem.

I say this since the card is loaded into the CF card reader on the Mac, and it is ok.

The files are transferred to the Mac, and the card is still ok.

The card is ejected from the Mac, and the card is then inoperative.

We were discussing this today, and we wonder if bypassing the standard Eject process, just removing the card when all activity has ceased, would make a difference.

We did some research on the Transcend cards. The tolerance on the +5 V supply is
+- 10 %, which is generous. The tolerance on the +3.3v supply is +-5%.

We are preparing the measure the actual voltages on a Lexar Firewire 800 card reader to see if we can learn anything.
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Old December 9th, 2008, 09:12 PM   #12
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And, could you just unplug the unit from the computer first and then eject the card?
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Old December 9th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #13
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Since my problem with CF cards is now growing to viral proportions, I feel it important to chime in with minor details that might (just might) help someone else.

It does appear from the anecdotal posts that many others have, like me in one previous experience with the Transcend 32gig cards coming from the XDR box, had no problems using them. (pardon the split infinitive)

Here is the pertinent data: My MBP is a 2.2ghz with all the latest Apple updates. I did "kill" (several, Yikes!) Transcend 32gig cards with two different USB card readers and a "Hoodman" brand FW800 CF reader. These aforementioned readers have no problem reading and writing to various other CF cards.

You can draw your own conclusions, but in my opinion, there's something weird about the batch of Transcend cards that I have (had actually, since most are now toast). FWIW, the serial number of one that failed is: 234178-01XX.

Obviously, if someone reading this has success using their Transcend 32gb cards, more power to them. What works is what works, or something like that. I'm going to take the safe path for our upcoming shoot and stay clear of my laptop by dumping my CF cards to a taxi drive via a PC and be done with it.

Again, many thanks to Mike and Dan at C-D for their help in trying to sort this out.
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Old December 13th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #14
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A side question here-- are there any cards other than the Transcend CF cards which work and, if so, have they been tested under Leopard?

Has anyone tested a CF ExpressCard reader? I'm getting a Sonnet CF to ExpressCard adapter on Monday (as an eval unit) and I know from Sonnet that these are now shipping.

I note that Mike has posted in another thread that he has success with the Nexto DI device. I have one here as well for an article and highly recommend it. Then connect to your computer via USB or eSata to transfer.

Final questions-- Is this occurring with specific MBPro models? With any version of OS X 10.5?

Ned Soltz
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Old December 13th, 2008, 05:02 PM   #15
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Dear Ned,

In order to support 100 Mb recording rates, we need a relatively fast CompactFlash card.

The Transcend 32 GB 133x cards are 133x writes and 300x reads.

Some manufacturers rate their cards at the highest speed achieved, which is normally the read speeds. So, some manufacturers would rate the above card at 300x.

Other manufacturers 133x cards may not be capable of 133x write speeds, and thus incompatible with the Flash XDR.

Also, while it would appear that all CompactFlash cards should be interchangeable, they are not, especially when one is attempting to get absolute maximum performance from the cards.

To be clear, we currently only support the Transcend 32 GB 133x
and the Transcend 16 GB 300x cards.

We will be qualifying other cards in the future, as promising cards come on the market.

We have just tested a Sandisk 32 GB card. It did not work in the Flash XDR, based on our initial tests. As soon as we have time, we intend on seeing what it will take to make it work.

Sorry, but I do not know all of the details, at this time, as to exactly which MacBook Pro models, and which versions of Leopard, has problems. We do have reports form others that have not had any problems.

Yes, we are impressed with the Nexto DI device. We purchased the 500 GB model, and it has performed well. We do recommend that you purchase the extra battery, if you will be using it on battery power. It does work with a supplied AC adapter.

If you have eSata, then this is a great way to upload the contents of your CompactFlash cards.
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