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DBrunnenmeyer
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Confused about options for SATA hard drive setup on xw8400 workstations

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HP xw8400 / HPxw8600
Microsoft Windows 7 (64-bit)

Running Windows 7/64 Pro with plans to upgrade to Windows 10/64 Pro in the near future. These machines have SATA hard drives and optical drives only. We're not looking to use any of the RAID options, just two hard (or SSD) drives and a pair of CD/DVD drives. What is the optimum configuration for Storage Options in the F10 setup dialog? Not sure what to do w.r.t. SATA Emulation. Right now, these machines are configured for RAID+AHCI. Would like optimum setup informaiton.

 

Also, should BIOS DMA Data Transfers be enabled? It currently is.

 

Current BIOS IS 786D5 v02.38

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DGroves
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Raid+AHCI is the correct bios selection, do not change it i'm not going to type again why,...........if currious use the sites search feature and look for my posts done today one of them has details on raid+AHCI

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DGroves
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Raid+AHCI is the correct bios selection, do not change it i'm not going to type again why,...........if currious use the sites search feature and look for my posts done today one of them has details on raid+AHCI

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SDH
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I'll add in a little bit:

 

Intel and HP recommend SATA emulation be set to RAID + AHCI in all cases, even if you'll never use RAID.  These xw workstations are SATA generation II machines, so getting a SATA gen III will not help you.  I had the occasion to recently work on a xw6400 that was optimized for all it could do except it was running on a clone image, on a hard drive rather than a SSD.  It was a bad experience after becoming used to the SSD level of experience.  Here is my advice:

 

In very rare cases when I'm doing something esoteric such as running an old firmware updater I'll switch SATA emulation over to IDE separate, but always switch right back when done.  I'll run DBAN with SATA emulation set to IDE separate if I have a really difficult SSD or HDD to get to raw.  In those cases I'll attach the balky drive to SATA port 0, get it raw, move it to SATA port 1, change SATA emulation to RAID + AHCI, boot from my regular drive, and go to disk management for the NTFS long format.  Works every time, virtually.

 

Buy used Intel 320 series SSDs off eBay, and get a 300GB size minimum.  They also made a 600GB size.  These are SATA II SSDs, and will serve you well for years to come.  DGroves knows some of these come from server farms so is rightfully cautious but virtually all I have bought have had nearly or fully 100% life left.  I do a low level reformat using DBAN and then long NTFS format on the raw result.  I use the excellent Intel ToolBox SSD utility to firmware update them if needed.

 

My wife has a hard time throwing things away (physical and digital).  Hence I got her a 600GB Intel 320 series one, but for our other SATA II workstations we use the 300GB size.  That includes these xw workstations and the version 2 Z400/Z600 ones.  For our ZX20/ZX40 workstations we've settled on the Intel 545s SSDs for now..... I like the 500 GB size for that, and we still get to use the Intel ToolBox that way.

 

Update your BIOS from within BIOS is best, but you certainly can do it quite safely from within a boot from DOS, and never update it from within Windows 10.  The utilities included with the old xw BIOS updaters are outdated, so doing the .bin flash from within BIOS is the very best way to go.  We're running the latest May 2019 W10Pro64 on these just fine.

DBrunnenmeyer
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i could not figure out how to search the site for specific posts you made on a certain date. Any hints on how to fint it?

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DBrunnenmeyer
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Thank you for your detailed suggestions. I'm not sure how to update the BIOS from within BIOS, especially since I have been unable to locate the proper (lasted) BIOS for these machines, the xw8400 and xw8600.

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DGroves
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raid+ahci simply means the bios will then be able to load either the raid code or the ahci code depending on how you configure the bios drive settings

 

https://support.hp.com/us-en/drivers/selfservice/hp-xw8400-workstation/1844968

 

select either XP or vista and then click on bios link to see/download the latest/last bios hp released

 

XP 32bit link:

 

https://ftp.hp.com/pub/softpaq/sp51001-51500/sp51225.exe

 

extract the files by either running the sp61225 file or use winzip to extract it, the go into the DOS_Flash folder and copy all files onto a DOS bootable usb key DO NOT COPY THE FOLDER, you must copy the files in the folder onto the bootable usb key (use rufus to make such a usb key) now either set the system to boot from the bios, or simply disconnect the hard drive

let the usb key boot and then run the FLASHBIN.exe program and follow the prompts

 

read the readme.txt file for help

 

To do a update from within the 8400 bios

if you enter the 8400 bios, and look around you will see a option to update bios, simply copy the " 7D5_0238.bin " file onto a usb key that is formated as fat32, place the usb key in a usb port, reboot enter bios, go to bios update option, select usb key, andD5_0238.bin file

 

Last this is for "SDH" in reguards to used SSD's the reasion i usually don't recomend them for most consumers is that most sellers are trying to sell used ssd's with unknown runtime hours for almost the same price as a new retail ssd i do however buy SAS SSD's or PCI-e ssd cards used off ebay, but those are unique items

 

if you spend spend a bit of time on amazon or newegg you can almost allways find several retail ssd'd that are on sale for the same price (or cheaper) that used ssd's are being sold for so why buy a ssd with unknown usage with no warranty?

 

here's some examples as of 6/2/2019

 

https://www.amazon.com/HP-EX920-Internal-Solid-2YY47AA/dp/B0795Z97K7?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_3

 

https://www.amazon.com/HP-512GB-Internal-Solid-2AP99AA/dp/B0714G3RJM?ref_=fsclp_pl_dp_1

 

https://www.amazon.com/Internal-Solid-State-Drives-25-50/s?rh=n%3A1292116011%2Cp_36%3A1253504011

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DBrunnenmeyer
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Apparently DBAN is no longer supported and now dysfunctional, according to several results of a recent Google search. Is there an alternative that you would recommend?

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BambiBoomZ
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DBrunnenmayer,

 

The HP Xw8400 has a good potential for upgrading today:

 

Xw8400 Specifications: https://support.hp.com/us-en/document/c00712281

 

The expansion slot configuration is important for upgrade considerations

 

Expansion Slots: 7 Total Slots

1 PCIe x16 graphics slot
1 PCIe x16 mechanically (x4 electrically)
1 PCIe x8 mechanically (x4 electrically)
3 PCI-X slots (one 133 MHz two 100 MHz slots)
1 legacy PCI slot

 

The capability for two processors provides sufficient PCIe lanes for a good range of add-in cards.

 

Passmark Performance  Test- which has a free thirty day trial- is very useful in determining the current system performance and by "Advanced Searches, find the best performing - and importantly- compatible components:

 

Top Passmark Performance  Test Results HP Wx8400:

 

Rating: 2170 = / GTX 550 Ti / Samsung 840 Pro / 32GB

CPU: 7641 = 2X Xeon X5450

2D:   614 = Quadro FX 1700

3D:  5682 = GTX 1070

Mem:   783 = 12GB

Disk:   4320 = No 1: “ Volume 0" /  No. 4= 2789 Samsung 860 PRO 512GB /  No 5 = 2770 Samsung 850 EVO 250GB

 

As the query centers on disk performance, it is worthwhile to mention that the limitations of SATAII mean that expensive modern SSD's can not reach their full potential.  For example, the Samsung 860 PRO 512GB, scoring 2789 in the best case for Wx8400, has a Passmark average of 3916 and a top mark of 5451.  As well, in the example of the GTX 1070, the average 3D Mark  = 11352.

 

The situation can be improved by an add- in PCIe SATAII RAID card, and the LSI 9240-4i is not expensive.  It does not have to be in a RAID, and will not present top performance for modern SSD's,  but I added a PERC H310 to a Dell Precision T5500 and with no other changes, the Passmark Disk score fro a Samsung 840 150GB- my first SSD- changed from 2122 to 2934.  The SATAIII card also makes the investment more practical, a card can be shifted to a new system.  I had an Intel 730 480GB SSD- which was quite expensive, but I used it in four systems and when sold still showed 100% capacity.

 

There are also cards that can add USB 3.0; choose carefully.

 

A search by each test component category can find the best performing parts and there is no reason that the Xw8400 can not be useful for a long while. I'm gathering parts to organize a 2007 Dell Precision 390 for new work.

 

BambiBoomZ

 

HP z620_2 (2017) (R7) > Xeon E5-1680 v2 (8-core@ 4.3GHz) / z420 Liquid Cooling / 64GB DDR3-1866 ECC Reg / Quadro P2000 5GB _ GTX 1070 Ti 8GB (MSI Aero) / HP Z Turbo Drive M.2 256GB AHCI + Samsung 970 EVO M.2 NVMe 500GB + HGST 7K6000 4TB / Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 sound interface + 2X Mackie MR824 / 825W PSU /> HP OEM Windows 7 Prof.’l 64-bit > 2X Dell Ultrasharp U2715H (2560 X 1440)

 

[ Passmark Rating = 6280 / CPU rating = 17178 / 2D = 819 / 3D= 12629 / Mem = 3002 / Disk = 13751 / Single Thread Mark = 2368 [10.23.18]

 

HP z420_3: (R 10) Xeon E5-1650 v2 (6C@ 4.3GHz) / z420 Liquid cooling / 32GB (4X 8GB DDR3-1866 ECC registered / NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 3GB  (MSI Gaming X) / Samsung 850 EVO 250GB + HGST 4TB / ASUS Essence STX / Logitech z2300 2.1 / 600W PSU > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (HP OEM ) > Samsung 40" 4K

 

[Passmark System Rating: = 5600 / CPU = 15120 / 2D = 842 / 3D = 10652 / Mem = 2920 Disk = 4975 / Single Thread Mark = 2385 [6.1.19]

 

Pending upgrade: EVGA GTX 1060 SSC Gaming ACX 6GB (= support for 40" 4K monitor)

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SDH
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Been using the same version for over 10 years now..... still works fine.  I'll need to get to my utility files to let you know the exact version I use.... it is burned onto a CD as a bootable optical disc that can be booted whether SATA emulation is set to IDE Separate or RAID + AHCI.  It is not run from within XP/W7/W10..... thus it is not OS dependent.  I don't get fancy.... I just choose the "autonuke" option and walk away.  Be advised that the process can take quite some time if you do this on a very large HDD or SSD.  Obviously the faster the computer you are using to run this the less time it will take.

 

Tim Fisher is a long time practical guy.... read this:  
https://www.lifewire.com/dban-dariks-boot-and-nuke-review-2619130

 

He has one thing wrong in the article.... DBAN does work fine on regular SATA SSDs and I used it on a recent generation Intel 545s SSD just a few days ago.  We also use it as the very first step on all of our latest generation Samsung SATA SSDs because they've had some stuff on their low level sectors that was causing us issues before I followed my instincts and ran DBAN on one.  That was the solution.  Thereafter we take those SSDs in their now-"raw" state and use the built in Windows Disk Management utility to MBR-partition those and finally do a long type NTFS format, and then they're ready to go with no issues any more.

 

I've only used this on 2.5" form factor SATA SSDs..... There are NVMe SSDs but your workstation cannot run those so you don't have to think about that.

 

As far as sources:

https://sourceforge.net/projects/dban/files/dban/

 

Primative bootable programs don't need to be up to date..... they just have to work.  When I have some spare time I'll see if my DBAN CD boots and works on a Z440 I have on the bench, and post back.

 

Regarding USB3 card idea from our friend Bambi's input.... I've used the HP "2x2" Texas Instruments chipset-based PCIe card in the xw6400/xw8400 workstations also, but the PCIe gen I nature of all the PCIe slots in that generation of HP workstations drops the USB3 speeds in half.  The next generation (xw8600/xw6600) had PCIe gen II slots for each of its two video slots and thus I can run that card at full USB3 speeds in those.  I put it in the lower of the two PCIe x16 slots and put the video card in the top PCIe x16 slot.  Works great.  That card was officially engineered to give USB3 to the Z400/600/800 generation but is backwards compatible, and still works great even under the May 2019 W10Pro64 release.

 

 

 

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SDH
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Here's the update:

 

I've been using the 2.2.6 version of DBAN for all these years.  I have had both an xw6400 and a xw6600 set aside for "utility" workstation purposes where I could run long projects in a back room with the display off, and that has been handy.  For example, doing the DBAN low level wiping of all sectors in large 3TB hard drives to clear them of prior server OS components and then use them on workstations.  They could not be formatted the usual way before that clearance process was done.  Same idea on our Samsung SSDs having hidden data on low level sectors that were cleared so I could then use these very fine SSDs on Z400/Z600 or xw6600/xw4600 workstations.  We were hitting odd issues before that technique was developed.

 

You are correct that running DBAN on much newer workstations would likely not work because the .iso that lets you create the bootable CD would not have the newer drivers that the newer workstations need to boot.  There used to be kits of basic universal drivers that would just keep working on newer hardware, but those days are pretty much over.

 

However, that version of DBAN has been used on all the xw workstations and the Z400 Z600 ones just fine.  So, feel free to use it on those, or not.  It has been an excellent tool for us, but I don't expect it to work forever as a bootable utility on the newer workstations.  That is why I have my trusty xw6400/xw6600 standing by ready for utility service for these projects.

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