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Modified BIOS for Microserver N40L enables hidden features


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Thanks Joe for prompt reply.


Flashing was successful since I can see all the "unlocked" features and all are set as per instructions.


Boot order was/is correct. I have tried with SSD connected to ODD port (now AHCI) - did not work. System simply does not see that drive as bootable (event hough it was working before flashing).


Tried using old, factory disk which has Win 7 installed and was working prior to SSD swap. It does not matter if I plug in this one into the original SATA slot or ODD system still does not think it is bootable drive and goes and tries PXE boot resulting in PXE-E61 error.


Checked all cables and they look OK to me.


At the end of the day I will install Win 7 again (only if I really have to) but my confusion comes from the fact that:


1. Flashing was successful

2. All BIOS settings are correct, checked many times

3. Both disks (SSD and SATA) suddenly are not bootable. This is the most confusing since original disk was just unplugged and sitting on the desk while flashing the BIOS.

BIOS can see them but can't find OS on them - so registry hack is not possible since I can't get to OS.

4. Tried SATA cable that came with Intel SSD and some other SATA cables boys gave me at work to try them so the cables have been used daily and suppose to be tested very well.

5. And finally, after flashing I always have to reboot twice. First time always stuck on Checking USB configuration... ??


PS: I tried to lower USB priority - it was on high but no luck with either settings so I did reset it back to default. I also tried Onchip IDE with both settings: Legacy IDE and IDE only but no luck.


Thanks again, really appreciate your time.



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Please disregard my previous post. The problem was between chair and computer. All good. SATA enabled on all ports and flashing was successful from the start it was just me forgetting "minor" things that caused all the trouble. It was busy week at work but I should have remembered that I already formatted old disk to be reused for VMs so my apology for wasting your time. :(


All in all the instructions are spot on and working like a charm. Thanks again for all your instructions and assistance. :)





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LOL, Glad you found the problem. When you get the chance be sure to introduce yourself http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/344-welcome-to-homeservershowcom-forums-introduce-yourself-here/


Feel free to keep asking questions and don't hesitate to jump in on discussions in other threads -- that's how we all learn and have fun!



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  • 4 weeks later...

Instructions on installing hacked BIOS (wherever the copy initially originated from) are all over the internet and ardent users are implying that one really must install it to get "full-speed" from their server.


I agree that IDE (ie. PATA) emulation on SATA ports is now redundant (- all curent OSs have built-in SATA drivers and can boot off such drives); hence there's no practical use for a feature to combine two physical SATA ports (one for a IDE Master, other IDE Slave) to emulate a single logical IDE port.


However, what does one pratically gain from (disabling PATA emulation and) enabling using SATA ports:

0. SATAII port speed;

1. NCQ; and

2. "SATA-removeable drive" options (permitting port multiplier function)?


Physical IDE port are limited to (theoretical) 133MB/s. SATA ports are limited to (SATAII) 3Gb/s (theoretical, 384MB/s). This sounds like a gain, but what spinning hard-drive can handle SATAII speeds? (I am not even sure that IDE emulation does limit speeds to that of a physical IDE Port specification - it wouldn't make sense to do so).


NCQ is used to re-order disk requests based on minimum transition of the head from current location - mainly when drive receives numerous requests in short time - something that RAID logic should not be doing.


Port multiplier function is dependent on eSATA physical specifiications - operates at 1.5Gb/s which is then shared among
multiple connected disks; and even with hacked BIOS, eSATA port only implements less efficiant Command-Based Switching (CBS, in comparison to Frame-Based Switching (FBS)). Not a performance enhancement.


Lastly, in a NAS/SAN RAID scenario, one would be limitted by the NIC speeds. A populated RAID, even with LAG of 2 NICs will limit effective throughput more than IDE speeds.


I'd like someone to crush this thesis - using before and after hacked BIOS installation disk speed improvements, as solid evidence - but until this, I say that installing hacked BIOS is not  a "must do" activity and in practice, serves almost no purpose.

Edited by AlexF
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Well, I can say for sure that SATA II spinning drives do have better performance on SATA II ports than on SATA I ports. And SATA III spinning drives have even better performance on SATA II ports than SATA II drives do. Whatever the theoretical limits, the real-world performance can be measured. They may not be operating at the theoretical maximum, but it is better than it would be otherwise. That makes the mod-BIOS worthwhile in many situations. Is it a 'must'? No. Is it highly recommended? Yes.

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Whatever the theoretical limits, the real-world performance can be measured.


As per Anandtech testing of WD Red (http://www.anandtech.com/Gallery/Album/2223#1) avarage Read speed of that drive is 110MB/s - this is within physical IDE port capability.


As I wrote above, I don't see why (logical) IDE emulation would be limitted to physical IDE port speeds - the physical port is still SATA - just that IDE (ATA) control commands are used instead of SATA.

Edited by AlexF
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Except that no standard ever operates at its max rate - those rates are achieved only in test bench situations. So, I strongly suspect a WD Red would, in reality, be hampered by an IDE port. What I do know for sure is a Red operates better on SATA II than on SATA I, and even better on SATA III. So, regardless of the specification, the real-world results speak for themselves.


I'm wondering why you would want to use IDE for SATA drives at all. What is it about the command set that is so appealing?

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I'm wondering why you would want to use IDE for SATA drives at all. What is it about the command set that is so appealing?


The issue isn't about IDE drives - Microserver doesn't support them through SAS backplane (also, no point in discussing SATAI or SATAIII since we know the backplane is SATAII).

The issue is whether IDE emulation hampers performance (on physical SATAII port) - if doesn't, then, this adds to the weight of my thesis (of which port speeds is only one) that there's no practical reason to install the hacked BIOS.

Edited by AlexF
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So, your contention is that the drives would perform as well using IDE Emulation on the stock BIOS as they would running at SATA II on the mod-BIOS?

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Yes, for all (practical) intent and purpose of MicroServer, installing hacked BIOS is unnecessary.

Edited by AlexF
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