Category Archives: News

USB3-SATA-U3 (ASMedia 1051e) Firmware Update

Plugable is pleased to announce that a firmware update for our USB3-SATA-U3 adding the following features is now available:

  1. Improved support for 512e “Advanced Format” drives.
  2. Spin down disks after 10 minutes of inactivity, resume on access.
  3. Spin down disks on system sleep, resume on system wake.

Any customers who have a USB3-SATA-U3 in roughly March-August 2012 who are NOT using 32 Bit PC and wishing to access volumes above 2.19TB should apply this update. To be clear, this update is recommended for most users with docks beginning with serial numbers 991 101, or 102.

For customers with older docks with serial numbers beginning with an 8 or lower, these docks used a different chip set, and this update is not relevant. Issues with these older docks are more likely due to outdated USB 3.0 host controller drivers. For customers with newer docks beginning with serial numbers 103 or higher, this update should have already been applied and should not be necessary- feel free to use the firmware check utility below to confirm, and proceed with update as needed.

Checking firmware version

All units with serial numbers beginning with 991, 101, or 102 are expected to have firmware version 12092681f600.

A utility to verify firmware version on Windows is available here.

Mac users can open system information (open the Apple Menu, hold the alt/option key, and select system information). From the USB section of System Information, click to highlight the USB3-SATA-U3, and then verify the serial number as shown here:

serial 101

serial991

If your serial number in system profiler begins with 991, 101, or 102, this firmware update is recommended.

After update, docks will report a serial number matching the one shown below, 1051E121005010000:
firmware 121

Updating Firmware

Updating firmware on the USB3-SATA-U3 is only possible on Windows, however nearly any Windows PC with USB will do, as this update can be completed over USB 2.0. Mac users may wish to borrow a friend or neighbor’s Windows PC to complete this update, however for Mac users can also use virtual machine options like Parallels or VirtualBox to complete this update by assigning the USB3-SATA-U3 device to the virtual machine, and using it to complete the update. Mac users who cannot get access to a USB 2.0 capable Windows PC can instead contact support@plugable.com to make other arrangements.

To update your USB3-SATA-U3, first download the firmware update utility here, and follow the steps below.

  1. Double click the“U3_FW_Updater_130220.exe” update utility.
  2. If prompted by User Account Controls, select yes. User Account Control Approval
  3. Check to see that your U3 is listed by the update utility as pictured here, and press start:
    ASMedia FW Update
  4. After upgrading verify that firmware version 13022081f602 is reported by the update utility.

For deeper technical details, read our post on understanding large SATA volume compatibility.

Please let us know if you have questions or run into issues by posting below, or shoot an email to support@plugable.com.

[usb3-sata-u3-post]

DisplayLink Windows 7 Compatibility Issues with Basic Mode and Chrome

Two important Windows 7 compatibility notices, for users of DisplayLink devices:

1) A Windows update deployed by Microsoft on 2/27/2013 is leaving Windows systems in Basic mode, which then causes problems with older DisplayLink drivers prior to 6.3 M1, including the very common 5.6 M1 version. The particular update causing the breakage appears to be a Microsoft change to DirectX. When first released on the 27th, Microsoft had it as a “recommended” update so it was pushed out widely. Microsoft has now switched it to be an “optional” update. You can read discussion of the affects of the update here.

This problem is Windows 7 specific.

There are a couple options for solutions:
1) Install the latest DisplayLink drivers (currently 7.1 M1). You can download the latest DisplayLink drivers here.
2) Uninstalling the offending update individually. Here’s how.
3) Doing a system restore to 2/26/2013 or prior will solve the issue.

A separate problem, but one that appeared around the same time, is Google Chrome tabs hanging on load.

On Feb 22nd, Google Chrome updated to version 25.0.1364.97m. This version conflicts with any installed DisplayLink version 7.x drivers and higher, on Windows Vista and up. Google is working to fix this in a Chrome update, but until then you can work around the issue by passing the –disable-gpu flag to chrome. To do this, type “chrome” in the Windows start search box, but don’t hit enter. Then right click on “Google Chrome” and select properties. Enter the –disable-gpu parameter as the last part of the “Target” string (note that’s two dashes before the word disable!). Here’s what it looks like:

chrome-disable-gpu

Please let us know if any problems persist after these new Microsoft and Google updates. Feel free to comment below. We’ll help however we can. Thanks!

Prolific launches Android SDK for USB Serial Devices

Prolific has just announced the release of their USB serial adapter SDK for Android. We’ve just completed quick testing on an Android 4.1 tablet (Asus Transformer TF300) of the recently released Prolific USB Serial “QuickTest” App, using our Plugable USB Serial Adapter (which uses the Prolific PL2303HXD chipset). More details on the SDK are available on prolific’s site here.

It is exciting to see support for USB serial converters on Android since so many of the quick configuration tasks for network equipment are ideally performed from a highly mobile device like a tablet. In our testing we were able to consistently transfer data at a 9600 baud rate by using the OS X screen command on one side, and the Prolific Android Quick Test application.

Setup is very quick and easy: just download the .zip file from the Prolific site linked above, extract it, and copy the “pl2303HXDSimpleTest.apk” to your Android device. You may need to enable the option to install applications from non market (Google Play) sources. While the application should run on any Android 3.2 or later device, only tablets with USB OTG “on-the-go” support will be able to access the USB serial device. For example the ASUS TF300 worked, however a Motorola Droid 4 did not.

After installing the application, you’ll need to “open” the connection, and a quick notification will appear for a few seconds in the app (not the “normal” Android notification system). If your system doesn’t offer a connection verification, it may be that your Android device does not support USB OTG. To verify an active connection, watch for the Baud rate notification message pictured below.

android_serial_connection