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XL-400 Tape Problems

For several months, we've had continual problems with the QIC-100 tape
drive in our XL-400.  Typical problems include write errors, CRC errors,
and a SCSI error called "Sense Key 0xA7 Extended".  We've been through
five or six drives and a couple of I/O boards.  The problem never goes
away for more than a week.

The Symbolics SE is unable to any diagnosis and can only swap boards.
I've talked to a couple of people at Symbolics and they haven't found
anything yet.  It was a drive person at 3M (who makes the XL-400's
drive) who told me that "sense key A7" indicates the tape has no bad
blocks information written on it.  Since this error recurred after a
tape was tested and reformatted by 3M, I wonder whether the error is
being correctly reported.

We've attached an Apple SCSI tape drive to the XL-400; it NEVER has

So, my questions:

1)  Have you had these sorts of chronic problems?  If so, what were the
cause and cure?  Could it be loss of adjustment by the drive?

2)  Does anyone suspect bad tapes from 3M?  We use the Gammamat
pre-formatted ones, of course.

3)  Is the 3M drive used by Symbolics more finicky than the Apple drive?
Does it do more testing of the tape at insertion?

Thanks for anything that you can tell me.

Paul Suhler
Hybrid Dataflow Systems
IBM Watson Research Center