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Anker USB 3.0 PCIE board causing Windows 7 to hang on shutdown


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#1 Arc_Light

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 12:45 AM

Hi folks,

I recently bought an Anker USB 3.0 2-Port PCI-E Express Card With 20-Pin Connector via Amazon (see here), and installed it on my home PC.  It is attached to a pair of USB 3.0 connectors on the front of the PC via the 20-pin connector, and is receiving additional power via the usual 4-pin power connector. The PC in question is home-built, and major components being the following:

MSI P7N SLI Motherboard (MS-7380-030, NVidia 750i SLI chipset)
Intel Core2Quad Q9550 CPU (2.83 GHz)
4GB of G.SKILL 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 800 SDRAM
PNY GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCIE 3.0 x16 Video Card
SIIG DP FireWire 800 PCIe 1394b Adapter (NN-FW0012-S1)
Thermaltake Toughpower Cable Management 700W PSU (W01060RU)
Three SATA and one IDE hard disk (various WD units)
One SATA and one IDE optical drive (NEC and LG)
Two external FW800 hard disks (Iomega units)
Dell U2312HM LCD Monitor with integrated USB 2.0 hub

I'm running Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit, fully patched, with Malwarebytes Pro and Avast! Antivirus (Free) for system protection. My UPS (CyberPower PR1500LCD) indicates that I am in no danger of maxing out my PSU.

The problem I'm having is very simple: After the Anker USB 3.0 PCIE card is physically installed in my computer, using the newest drives from the Anker website (VIA 4.30A - already checked, nothing newer is available on the VIA website), Windows consistently hangs when shutting down.  The screen indicates "Shutting Down...", the small circular icon animates for a bit, but within a minute or so the animation stops and the keyboard becomes non-responsive (can't light the NumLock, Caps Lock or Scroll Lock lights via keypress, no response with CTRL-ALT-DEL).  I've left the machine in that state for hours and it does nothing more - the only solution is to manually shut down / reboot.

 

The problem persists even when nothing is plugged in to any of the USB ports associated with the Anker USB 3/0 PCI card.  The problem goes away whenever the Anker USB 3.0 PCIE card is removed from the PCIE slot it's in (leaving the 4-pin power and 20-pin USB 3.0 front panel connectors attached).  Finally, I am able to reproduce this behavior consistently - that is, I am able to hang Windows instantaneously - if I go to Device Manager and attempt to disable or uninstall the drives for the VIA USB eXtensile Host Controller (listed under USB Compliance (Host/Device) Controller), and also if I attempt to run USB 3.0 Command Verified from www.usb.org, here, as a means of troubleshooting what's going on:

http://www.usb.org/developers/tools/

 

I've already tried using msconfig to boot into diagnostic and safe modes with the hardware installed; the problem persists in both cases.  The unit works fine otherwise, in that when it's installed, it recognizes my two USB 3.0 memory sticks with no issue and transfers files to and from them at the speeds one would expect without ever dropping connection.  I attempted to downgrade to the VIA 4.00B driver for the chipset the Anker USB 3.0 PCIE card uses, but the installation never completes (though at least this does not hang Windows).

Normally I'm pretty good about doing my own troubleshooting - this is the first time in many years I've been unable to deal with an issue on my own - but in this case my research online does not identify anyone else with the same problem, much less a solution, and troubleshooting is not obvious given that I can't seem to touch the hardware without hanging Windows.  At this point, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what's going on, and was hoping someone here might have some advice.

 

The one avenue of attack I am considering is finding a way to uninstall the drivers for the unit while it's not physically plugged in, since at that point this should not hang Windows. This is not something I've had to do in Windows 7 before, but I'm confident I'd find a way given enough research - at which point I could attempt to reproduce the problem with no drivers at all (if it still hangs, to me that would indicate a hardware issue) and also with the older VIA 4.00B drivers for the unit, available here:

 

http://www.via-labs.com/en/support/downloads.jsp

 

That said, my fear is that it doesn't hang with no drivers but does with the VIA 4.00B drivers - at which point I've made no progress. I'm further concerned that, in addition, Windows 7 may not appreciate me manually removing drivers like that, and I may cause myself problems in attempting to do so.

 

Another thing I noted was that Device Manager indicates that the Anker USB 3.0 PCIE card has IRQ -6 (0xFFFFFFFA) to itself. PCIE boards should use message-signaled interrupts (MSIs) which are indicated via negative numbers in the Device Manager, so that seems OK. On the other hand, this is the only actual device directly using an MSI - the other four MSIs in use (IRQs -2 through -5) are all PCI standard PCI-to-PCI bridges. Not sure if that matters or not.

 

The third thing I've noticed is that the Event Log is filled with paired warnings of this sort (Event 0, hcmon):

 

Detected unrecognized USB driver (\Driver\xhcdrv).

Detected unrecognized USB driver (\Driver\pci).

 

From my research, hcmon.sys should be associated with my install of VMWare Player, and is VMWare's USB monitoring tool. Likewise, "\Driver\xhcdrv" clearly refers to USB 3.0 (XHCI) hardare, which can only mean the Anker USB 3.0 PCIE board. This may very well be that this is simply because VMWare Player doesn't play nice with USB 3.0 hardware in general, however.  Would not expect that to hang the system, but just in case, I uninstalled VMWare Player. Sad to say, this did not solve the problem.

 

In the meantime, I'd appreciate any addtional advice / assistance here. I'm honestly not sure whether this is a case of bad hardware, a driver issue, or something else entirely, and have contacted Anker support as well in parallel to this post, though it remains to be seen whether I'll be speaking with someone with enough experience to tell me something I don't already know (perhaps I'm too cynical, and nothing against Anker in particular, but my hopes are not high).

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Arc_Light


Edited by Arc_Light, 18 February 2014 - 12:58 AM.


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#2 Arc_Light

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 03:29 AM

Hi folks,

 

Don't everyone reply at once...

 

But seriously, as a follow-up to my post, I've discovered the problem.

 

Long story short, this USB 3.0 card does not fully comply with the PCI Express specifications. To be fair to them, Anker indicates that it works in PCI-E x1 and x16 slots.  What they do not indicate is that it does *not* work in other types of PCI-E slots, even though the specification is very clear on the fact that up-plugging should always work - if the board physically fits, in other words, it's supposed to function. My board has one PCI-E x16 slot and two PCI-E x8 slots. The Anker USB 3.0 board plugged in to one of the latter PCI-E x8 slots, is, as far as I can tell, the issue. Since my display adapter is a PCI-E x16 card, however, there's not much I can do about this. They've been kind enough to offer to RMA the unit - minus a handling fee and my cost to ship it - but, since it was under $20 to start with, this is more or less useless as a practical solution, so I'll probably just keep it and install it on another machine.

 

Given this experience, I would urge anyone thinking about a USB 3.0 upgrade to beware.  From reading the specifications of a number of these same sorts of cards, I am now of the opinion that Anker is far from alone, and that there are a number of cheap USB 3.0 PCI-E cards out there that do not fully meet the PCI-E specification. This is stupid - why have a standard if you're not going to follow it? - but I suspect that this doesn't get the attention it might because PCI-E x2, x4 and x8 slots are relatively rare compared to x1 and x16 slots. I've suggested to Anker support that they clearly state what types of slots their card does and does not work in, as one or two vendors have already done, so that, at a minimum, no one mistakenly assumes that they've followed the PCI-E standards when designing their hardware (where's the fun in that, right?) - we'll see if it does any good.

 

In the meantime, I'm off to buy a USB 3.0 card designed by someone who can read...

 

Arc_Light



#3 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 06:01 PM

Welcome to BC - and thanks for sharing your solution with us !

 

I understand your frustration at the fact that you received no replies to your post, but not everybody sees every post, and it may not have been seen by anybody who is familiar with the nuts and bolts of the USB 3 standard. I certainly am not. You now seem to know a lot more about it than when you started - have you considered setting up as the resident USB 3 expert ?  Your - hard-earned - knowledge could be valuable to others.

 

Chris Cosgrove



#4 Arc_Light

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Posted 02 March 2014 - 11:50 PM

Hi Chris,

 

No worries, I was far more frustrated at the folks at Anker than with anyone here - they're actually paid to do something useful, after all, whereas posters in the BC forums do it out of the goodness of their heart; I was just a little dismayed at the sound of silence that followed, even if I more or less expected this result.  Nothing against BC - I really like it and use it a lot - but I've been troubleshooting PCs for decades now, so typically if it stumps me and I'm unable to find what I need online, chances are it's a particularly nasty problem that will not be so easy for anyone else to deal with either. Of course, I have my off days too, not to mention every time I go through something like this I am reminded of how much there is left to learn, but in any event, you get the idea...

 

As for being the resident (anything) expert, assuming I had the ability, there would still be the matter of finding the time with a demanding job, small kids, etc. That said, if I happen to wander by and see something I can help with, I'll contruibute as best as I'm able.

 

Best wishes, and thanks for writing,

 

Arc_Light



#5 Chris Cosgrove

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Posted 05 March 2014 - 07:35 PM

 

That said, if I happen to wander by and see something I can help with, I'll contribute as best as I'm able.

 

That's all we can ask !

 

Chris Cosgrove






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