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Modified BIOS for Microserver N40L enables hidden features


diehard
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Note: I have discovered that, if you have an HP Smart Array P410 hardware RAID controller and disable SATA IDE Combined mode within this BIOS, the Microserver will suddenly fail to see your RAID controller. It will no longer show when booting, and the array will not be visible. The controller will no longer show as a Hard Drive option in the BIOS, so you will no longer be able to use it until you enable SATA IDE Combined mode again.

 

I would assume this also applies to P212 and P411 controllers, and possibly others.

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Hi there. Since a week or so I have the N40L, and I'm really happy with it already.

I'm using the modded BIOS, and everything seems to be working OK-ish, but there's one thing that's nagging me : all the disks are active in UDMA Mode 6 (or even UDMA Mode 2), and not in SATAII mode.

 

OS: Windows Server 2012

Original 250GB drive in the ODD bay, as bootdrive, connected to the ODD SATA port.

3 x 2TB Samsung Spinpoint F4 EG + 1 x 1.5TB Samsung Spinpoint F4 EG in the 4-bay enclosure.

Exampe below, one of the 2TB disks ; it shows "Supported: UDMA Mode 6" but also "Active: UDMA Mode 2".

 

UDMA.png

 

I'm using the default MS drivers....is that the issue?

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I'm not familiar with HD Tune (heard of it; don't use it), but I already see some odd things with that screenshot. For example, it says the average speed is 95 MB/sec yet also says the Active mode is UDMA 2. That doesn't make sense because UDMA 2 has a maximum rate of 33 MB/sec.

 

Have you actually done any tests to see how fast data is writing and reading? That is the only true measure of performance.

 

Also, are you using Storage Spaces? pcdoc has done a bunch of testing and posted results that indicate SS has less than stellar performance, especially when data is being written.

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That was also pretty confusing to me ; I'm getting read/write speeds way outside the specs of UDMA Mode 2.

However, it does look like something isn't quite alright.

Using ATTO I've benchmarked the disks.

Port 0,1,2 have a Samsung 2TB F4 in it.

Port 3 has a Samsung 1.5TB F4 in it.

Port 4 has the standard 250GB disk in it.

Speeds:

Port 0, ~100 MB/sec

Port 1, ~133 MB/sec

Port 2, ~79 MB/sec

Port 3, ~92 MB/sec

Port 4, ~108 MB/sec.

I'm confused....the first three results are from the exact same type of disks...

Screenshots attached.

atto_samsung_2tb_sata_port0.png atto_samsung_2tb_sata_port1.png atto_samsung_2tb_sata_port2.png atto_samsung_2tb_sata_port3.png atto_samsung_2tb_sata_port4.png

 

BTW, I'm not using storage spaces ; they're configured as seperate disks, nothing special.

I'm going to check all the wiring inside the N40L, and make sure the SATA connectors on the disks are clean.

Also, I'm going to swap the disks, so make sure it's not the disk itself that is having trouble.

I'll post the results later today or tomorrow.

Edited by MarcelG
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Mmmm, the plot thickens.

Switching the disk in port 0 with the disk in port 1 gives some unexpected results.

Before: 0 = 100, 1 = 133.

After: 0 = 105, 1 = 105

Switched it all back. so now back2=before...but the readings are 0=100, 1=78.

Huh?

 

I'm going to install the HP drivers....let's hope that makes the readings more stable.

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The HP/AMD drivers didn't work.... After I installed them the benchmarks dropped to write speeds of 80 kb/sec, up to a staggering 30 MB/sec. Read speeds where not affected.

Real life benchmarks showed writespeeds of up to 380 MB/sec....plus disk activity well after the copy was complete. (Awful write caching implementation)

After 10 copies or so, the real life write speeds dropped to below 1 megabyte per second.

I uninstalled those drivers and reverted to the standard Microsoft AHCI drivers.

Performance is as it was before, but SMART is now reporting issues with 3 of the 5 disks (Ultra dma crc error count on one, unstable sectors on another and calibration retry count warnings on the third). :blink:

I'm now trying to get my data of those puppies, off to other disks, to see what I can do about it.

 

So, that's the current status. Not what I expected.

One thing is certain: I've got a chore for the holiday season. ;)

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Well, I guess it was one disk that was the culprit ; it's going back to Samsung/Seagate. Just packaged it and filled out the RMA stuff...

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The thumb drive I setup today, even with the glitches, appears to have all the proper files on it, and are all the proper size comparing them to Joe's screenshot.

 

But I will still track down another drive, since I would like another anyway, and see if there is a difference while running the HP setup program. Only when I feel totally comfortable will I stick in a thumb drive and give it a shot. Thanks for all the help guys.

 

I decided to just go for it...and it worked. Thanks again for all the past posts that helped me with this. Thanks Joe for your posts.

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