Re: xw8600 BIOS Setup for SSD and HDD (1291 Views)
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Occasional Contributor
joiseyboy
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎01-07-2012
Message 1 of 6 (1,363 Views)
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xw8600 BIOS Setup for SSD and HDD

Until recently my xw8600 was configured with the SATA Emulation under Storage Options set to Separate IDE Controller;  250 GB HDDs connected to the SATA 0 and SATA 1 ports, and DVD RW drives connected to the  SATA 2 and SATA 3 ports.

 

I wanted to install a Corsair Neutron GTX240 SSD, but discovered when I changed the SATA Emulation to RAID+ACHI (to enable all 5 SATA controller ports and optimize SSD performance) the system could not find the boot drive.  I checked the boot order settings and found the under the HDD heading it listed the memory module in the USB attached HP Officejet 7500A printer first and it could not be changed.

 

I decided to go back to Separate IDE SATA Emulation, remove the optical drive on SATA port 2 and attach the SSD there.  This set-up would boot properly; but after installing windows 7 x64 on the SSD (Windows XP x64 still on the HDD) I found  Windows 7 was very very slow.

 

Can anyone offer any suggestions or comments on how I can improve this situation?

 

Thanks for any help you may suggest.

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Scott D. Harrison
Posts: 464
Registered: ‎10-16-2006
Message 2 of 6 (1,354 Views)

Re: xw8600 BIOS Setup for SSD and HDD

[ Edited ]

Is this a Windows 7 Pro 64-bit install from a retail installer DVD purchase, or something from HP?  If I recall correctly Vista 64 was the latest OS HP sold that with.  In that case you'll not be dealing with a set of HP Restore Discs.  I would never do an "upgrade" from a prior OS install into W7.  I only do clean installs of W7 onto a freshly long-type reformatted hard drive or SSD.  I buy my OEM "system builder" W7Pro 64-bit DVD/COA license from newegg.com (you can find that from many sources, and at about 140.00 each).

 

Plan on doing a clean install onto that SSD, from scratch, and when you format it prior to that install do the long version of formatting while booted from the W7 DVD.  That will take a while.  Or, if you have a functioning prior OS install on a hard drive that you can put back into the xw8600 you can plug the SSD in the second or third SATA port, and reformat it (long version) that way from Disk Management.

 

The boot drive, be it spinner or SSD, is always supposed to be plugged into the primary SATA port, which in these workstations generally is blue plastic, while the rest are a dark black.

 

Make sure your BIOS is the latest...... there was a recent release for that and the xw6600 from just a few months ago.  It is an important one.

 

Put the SSD into your preferred mount, hook it into the primary SATA port, get the W7 DVD ready in the DVD reader (which should be hooked to the second SATA port, or the IDE cable if it is an ATA DVD reader). Fire up the xw8600, go straight into BIOS, and navigate to where you can change the SATA Emulation.  Change that to "RAID + AHCI".  Save that on the way out of BIOS, and the workstation will now reboot generally requiring a formal F1 acceptance of the change.

 

Boot on into the DVD, choose clean install, and things will go well.  I generally set my boot order to the boot hard drive/SSD first, and the optical drive second.  Then, when I'm loading an OS I simply use the F9 key during early boot to switch over to the DVD reader for that one event.

 

This is the key information:  If you don't have SATA emulation set correctly to "RAID + AHCI" during the W7 install process then the proper drivers will not be loaded from the DVD onto the boot drive, and you'll not be getting anywhere near your expected speed.  I helped a friend who had done exactly what you did, and when we fixed things properly his SSD performance scores literally doubled.  I recommend the reformat/clean reinstall from scratch here because you really want all the basics perfect and the way it was handled initially may leave you with some significant issues.

 

After you've got things working with the SSD and the DVD reader you can add in your other hardware sequentially.  I'd do a restart between each addition, just to be extra cautious.  Some old HP DVD readers have an issue with loading W764 when BIOS SATA emulation is set correctly, and there is a workaround for that but you don't want that info right now.

 

All the tips I have written in this forum related to the xw6400 installs apply to the xw6600 and xw8600, including the info on processor upgrades.

 

Let us know how things go, so that others can benefit.......

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joiseyboy
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎01-07-2012
Message 3 of 6 (1,343 Views)

Re: xw8600 BIOS Setup for SSD and HDD

Scott,

 

Thanks for the quick and thorough reply.  I will have time to try your suggestions during the next weekend.  I will share the results.

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joiseyboy
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎01-07-2012
Message 4 of 6 (1,320 Views)

Re: xw8600 BIOS Setup for SSD and HDD

Scott,

 

Thanks again for your expert advise!

 

Per your instructions, I reformatted the SSD using the 32 bit XP OS I had on one of the HDDs; shut down the xw8600 after placing the window 7 install CD in the optical drive; reconfigured the SATA port connections with only the SSD on primary port and optical drive on second port; started the xw8600, entered BIOS set-up and reconfigured SATA Emulation to "RAID+AHCI"; rebooted and the windows installation went well.  After the new install windows 7 was performing as expected (no perceptible delay between a command and the expected result).  I downloaded and installed all updates (this required about a tenth the time to complete as with the previous flawed installation).  I have now added all other drives to the xw8600 and they seem to be working fine also.

 

Before the first flawed SSD and windows 7 installation I had the two HDDs set-up in a dual boot configuration for XP 32 bit and 64 bit.  I would now like to configure for triple boot options, windows 7 64 bit, XP 64 bit or XP 32 bit.  What are your suggestions on how to proceed?  I have read that the XP registry files need to be modified prevent deletion of windows 7 restore points when booting into one of the XP OSs; and think I have a good understanding of how to do that task.  I am a bit confused as how to proceed because during my first flawed windows 7 installation I had the SSD on SATA port 2 and the HDDs on SATA ports 0 and 1, therefore windows 7 modified (added) the boot files and information on the old primary HDD.  That old primary drive also has the original HP recovery partition on it (which I don't think I need since the machine came with Vista).

 

Is it safe and/or possible to modify the XP 32 bit and 64 bit registry files from within windows 7 to prevent deletion of windows 7 restore points the first time I boot into the one the XP OSs to determine exactly which drive letter  gets assigned to the SSD?

 

Is it safe and/or possible to modify (remove the windows 7 boot files and information) from the old primary HDD and only use the xw8600 F9 invoked boot options? 

 

 

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Respected Contributor
Scott D. Harrison
Posts: 464
Registered: ‎10-16-2006
Message 5 of 6 (1,313 Views)

Re: xw8600 BIOS Setup for SSD and HDD

[ Edited ]

Well, that's great news you got things installed nicely, with that technique.  It is critical, not well documented, and has been a source of much trouble if BIOS is not set correctly at the outset of a clean system build.  With W7 there is an after-the-fact Microsoft Fixit that one can run, but not so for XP.  I still prefer the start-from-scratch method for W7 anyway, as explained earlier.

 

So, your main job now is to not mess things up.  The safest way to do what you're talking about (a "software" solution) is to not do it.  I'd recommend a hardware solution.

 

Here is the easiest and cheapest hardware solution:

 

Early on with W7 I had a XP drive in a spare internal bay plugged in to the SATA power, but without a SATA data cable attached to the back of the drive.  If I wanted to switch from W7 to XP I'd shut down, physically change the SATA port 0 data cable (still plugged into the blue SATA port on the motherboard) from the W7 drive to the XP drive, and then start up.  Usually it takes a F1 acceptance of the drive change in BIOS boot phase, but that is quick.  I found I almost never wanted XP, unplugged the SATA power cable too, and finally pulled out that drive entirely.  This approach is kludgy, of course.

 

All options below are more expensive, but less kludgy, and can be used if you really need to frequently shift back and forth between different boot drives.  I did a lot of prior research on this, as you'll see:

 

First, here is a good alternative if you need to keep using 3.5" hard drives (but this option results in more noise because a new high rpm fan is introduced).  Get one of the Cru DataPort bay inserts meant for this.  HP also uses them as an option.  You shut down, physically pull out the 3.5" drive carrier for your W7 install, and slide in the 3.5" drive carrier for XP.  Those carrier's 3.5" drives need to be cooled by a little fan in the receiver for the carriers.  A single SATA data cable goes from the back of the receiver to the blue SATA port 0 on the motherboard so the HP chipset stays happy seeing the boot drive always hooked up to the proper port.  The carrier-to-receiver interface is rated for many thousand exchange cycles.  You can find the HP version and take a look, or look up cru.com/products.  Cru calls the carrier a sled, and the receiver a frame.

 

A second alternative, which I liked better, is that Cru makes a smaller version for 2.5" drives that fits into the floppy bay, and because 2.5"/SSD's don't need as much cooling as 3.5" drives there is no added fan.  Same concept..... slide in/out carriers for those smaller drive form factors, and a single SATA data cable from the receiver to the HP motherboard SATA port 0.  In all cases there is the receiver, which has the SATA data and power cables plugged into the back of it.  One type carries a single 2.5" drive, and another carries 2.  I liked the 1-drive option (DataPort 25 SL) because it perfectly fits into the HP floppy bay on my xw6400 and xw6600 workstations.  There also is the DataPort 25 which can hold two 2.5" drives.  HP has used these from Cru in the past, also.

 

A third option:  Some motherboards don't care which SATA port the boot drive is plugged into, and for those you can get a power switch that lets you have multiple drives plugged into the switch (this involves the drive's power cables only).  Each drive has its own SATA data cable leading directly to its own motherboard SATA port.  Only one drive gets power at a time, and so that will be the boot drive.  This won't work with any of the HP workstations, I believe.  Here's a quote from a good company that makes this type of device, talking about one HP xw workstation as an example (but I believe this applies to all)   http://www.industechnologies.com/  :

 

"The HP XW4550 workstation uses a drive controller chipset that is not capable of having a boot drive on any SATA port other than SATA 0. Due to this specific design logic used for this model, an IDEX switch can not be used with the native SATA ports.  The fix is to use a PCI SATA adaptor and connect all hard drives to the new SATA ports (EDIT:  and no boot drive SATA data cables to the motherboard's SATA ports). This bypasses the motherboard's hard drive controller entirely, allowing for the system to boot to any drive connected to the PCI adaptor card.  Normal SATA operation would allow the system to boot to any available device. The drive controller polls all ports and identifies available drives, then after all drives are collated into the bios, the system attempts to boot to the first drive available, then the second, and so on. We can only speculate as to why HP has decided to program is drive controllers in this manure, for this model."

 

I came close to installing the floppy bay Cru DataPort 25 SL, but finally realized that I did not really use XP enough.  Instead, I have a spare xw6400 as my dedicated XP test bed computer.

 

Fourth option:  Cru recently came out with a new "Slimline form factor" receiver for 2.5" drive carriers, and a pic is attached.  You could use this with an adapter in one full size 5.25" bay of your xw8600 workstation. Since only 2.5" drives are used no extra fan is involved.  I also found a Slimline-to-regular 5.25" bay adaper; details below.

 

Here is the Cru link:  http://www.cru-inc.com/products/DataPort-21-6G.php    See attached image also...... that is a 2.5" drive you'll see there, and the device is built to "Slimline form factor" specifications rather a standard optical drive bay form.  I'd call Cru to check in on their best advice on the form factor adapter issue, and here's the adapter I located:

 

http://www.digistor.com/Accessories_2/Bezel-Kit-Solutions/Bezel-Kit-for-Single-Slimline-Blu-ray-DVD-...

 

Related: HP advises that SATA generation III drives "likely" will not run reliably in our SATA generation II workstations (unless the SATA gen III drives are bought directly from HP with the special HP firmware loaded on them).  That has been posted about here in detail.  The Momentus XT 500GB is a SATA generation II drive, as are the Intel SSD versions I choose.  Putting a SATA gen II drive in any DataPort receiver/carrier rated for SATA gen III speeds would not cause a conflict at all (HP's service notice relates to a drive firmware issue, not an electrical interface problem).

 

Finally,  messing with your registry to pull this off...... not advised at all.  I'd stick to one of the hardware solutions above, or W7 alone.

 

Keep us posted on your decision, and how things work out.  This is not a rare issue that comes up.

 

Scott

 

 

 

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Occasional Contributor
joiseyboy
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎01-07-2012
Message 6 of 6 (1,291 Views)

Re: xw8600 BIOS Setup for SSD and HDD

Scott,
For now, I like your SATA data cable swapping suggestion best. Thanks again for the expert advise with a thorough discussion.
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