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Jack_67
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Message 1 of 23
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Will the Z420 Workstation boot from a PCIe SSD?

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Z420 Workstation
Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit)

Hello, I'm considering buying HP's Z420 Workstation. I would wish to know if this device supports booting from NVMe (specifically: booting from a PCIe storage).  Thanks in advance.

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BambiBoomZ
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Message 2 of 23
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Jack_67,

 

until yeasterday I was using an HP Z Turbo Drive M.2 256GB in a z420 /E5-1660 v2 to good effect, having a Passmark Disk Mark of 11599.  This was tranferred yeasterday  to the current project, a z620 /E5-1680 v2. 

 

However this drive - which has a Samsung SM951 inside- is AHCI- not NVMe.

 

It's possible to load and configure an NVMe module and driver in a z420 if it has a UEFI BIOS,  but that is for me too advanced technically. However,  you can try adding NVMe support: [Guide] How to get full NVMe support for all Systems with an AMI UEFI BIOS   And, I and I'm sure many Forum visitors would appreciate knowing the results.

 

However, there is a simpler solution:  use a Samsung 950 Pro which includes a "legacy BIOS".  these are not budget devices, but could save a couple of days of tehcnical frustration- at least from my point of view.

 

Not to throw a wrnch into the works, but after severl months' experience with a very fast M.2 drive, I think the experience of system speed is almost not noticeable- a few seconds in the boot time.  M.2 drives look very well in benchmark figures, but unless you moving extreme;y large datasets or libraries, a fast SATA SSD seems quite acceptable.

 

 

Cheers,

 

BambiBoomZ

 

CAD / 3D Modeling / Graphic Design:

HP z420 (2015) (Rev 5) > Xeon E5-1660 v2 (6-core @ 3.7 / 4.2GHz)  / 32GB DDR3 -1866 ECC RAM  / Quadro P2000 (4GB) / HP Z Turbo Drive M.2 256GB AHCI + Intel 730 480GB (9SSDSC2BP480G4R5) + Western Digital Black WD1003FZEX  1TB> Creative SB X-Fi Titanium + Logitech z2300 2.1 speakers  > 600W PSU> > Windows 7 Professional 64-bit >> 2X Dell Ultrasharp U2715H  (2560 X 1440)
[ Passmark Rating = 5920 > CPU= 15129 / 2D= 855 / 3D= 8945 / Mem= 2906 / Disk= 11559]  [6.12.16]  Single-Thread Mark = 2322 [4.20.17]

 

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MtothaJ
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Message 3 of 23
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If anybody is interested I can mod the standard Z420/Z620 v3.91 bios with the NVM module inserted.

 

One can then attempt to flash it from the bios. Flashing is of course at ones own risk, although it has been verified here that there are no adverse consequences in flashing a modified bios this way - https://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Business-PCs-Workstations-and-Point-of-Sale-Systems/How-can-I-bring-a-...

 

In the worst case scenario, a boot block bios recovery is always possible, since flashing the bios does not write to the boot block (as owners of 2011 bootblock date systems know all too well).

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michals
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Message 4 of 23
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hello

 

Can you send me the bios to the Z420 with NVMe modem

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Smeden
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Message 5 of 23
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I assume you followed the guide on Win-Raid.com to add the NvmExpress module?

 

My problem is that the modded BIOS looks like it has been written ( DOS Flash ) while in fact it has not.

 

How did you bypass the HP BIOS Checksum Test?

 

( The HP-Techguys could do this in minutes but they won't. Not even as an unofficial release. :Crying: )

 

Best regards

Smeden

 

Unfortunately my previous post got deleted...

Probably because I insinuated that HP wasn't willing to offer a NVMe Solution to the Zx20 platform for economic reasons.

Well thanks HP..... Now we know for sure. 😞

 

 

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SDH
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Message 6 of 23
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What reliably works with least hassle.... to most hassle... in any ZX20 workstations (including the Z420):

 

Least hassle:  The HP Z Turbo Drive Generation 1 (with no aluminum finned heatsink and running on the special proprietary HP-Samsung AHCI-controlled M.2 SSD).  This has the special HP firmware/hardware that allows boot from the HP device.  Works fine on the ZX20 or ZX40 HP workstations.  Somewhat hard to find now; agree with Bambi that it is a "step up" in speed but not a 'Quantum Leap" up in speed benefit (when compared to using a high quality fast current SATA Gen III SSD).  A "Quantum Leap" actually came only from shifting from a SATA II or SATA III HDD to SATA II or SATA III SSD (or a M.2 device, alternatively).

 

More hassle:  The Kingston Predator M.2 SSD mounted in their PCIe interface card.... with the right storage controller driver as posted about here previously this proprietary AHCI-controller M.2 SSD can reliably boot and runs as "step up" in speed versus a high quality fast current SATA Gen II or III 2.5" form factor SSD.  You notice the benefit, but it will not knock your socks off, but has been worth having in my experience.  These now also are becoming hard to find.  Sad but true... you can fall back on a nice current SATA III SSD with only a roughly 10-15% perceived loss of performance.

 

Most hassle:  Trying to get any HP Z Turbo Drive G2 NVMe or any non-HP NVMe controller M.2 SSD in PCIe slot adapter to boot in a ZX20 workstation.  The G2 version of the Z Turbo Drive has an NVMe based controller and it is HP certified for only the ZX40 (and a few other) workstations/laptops.  It is not HP supported in the ZX20 workstations.... avoid in the ZX20 workstations, in my opinion.

Smeden
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Message 7 of 23
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Thanks for your reply.

I’m aware of the HP Z Turbodrive G1 & other AHCI ( pseudo NVMe solutions )
+ aware that the OS can run from NVMe using a separate EFI Bootloader like “Clover”.

 

That said, I have succesfully injected the NvmExpress module in the BIOS on several Supermicro X9’s using the guide found on Win-Raid.com ( Big credit to thoose guys. )


The Supermicro X9 motherboards are based on Intel C602 chipset & AMI BIOS just like the Z420/Z620.
=> It should therefore be technically possible to obtain native NVMe boot on the Z420/Z620.

The only thing stopping me is the “HP BIOS Checksum Validation” which prohibits the BIOS to be overwritten with a non-HP bios image. :indifferent:
=> HP could easyli fix this but are just pointing to the Zx40 solution. ( I wonder why? )

 

It’s dissapointing to say at least. 😞

Thanks again for showing interest on this topic.

Regards
Smeden

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DGroves
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Message 8 of 23
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no, the z820 and 420 and 620 workstations can not normally boot from nvme (they can however access it as a data drive)

 

there are however several unique ssd's that include the missing nvme drivers in their legacy oproms 

 

the most common one is the samsumg 950 and the intel 750 seres ssd also includes the legacy oproms

 

all AHCI/SATA based ssds will boot in the above workstations with the kingston preadator (pci-e x2 or x4 i don't recall)

 

and samsung sm951 (SATA VER) pci-e x4 interface

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MtothaJ
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Message 9 of 23
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@Smeden wrote:

Thanks for your reply.

I’m aware of the HP Z Turbodrive G1 & other AHCI ( pseudo NVMe solutions )
+ aware that the OS can run from NVMe using a separate EFI Bootloader like “Clover”.

 

That said, I have succesfully injected the NvmExpress module in the BIOS on several Supermicro X9’s using the guide found on Win-Raid.com ( Big credit to thoose guys. )


The Supermicro X9 motherboards are based on Intel C602 chipset & AMI BIOS just like the Z420/Z620.
=> It should therefore be technically possible to obtain native NVMe boot on the Z420/Z620.

The only thing stopping me is the “HP BIOS Checksum Validation” which prohibits the BIOS to be overwritten with a non-HP bios image. :indifferent:
=> HP could easyli fix this but are just pointing to the Zx40 solution. ( I wonder why? )

 

It’s dissapointing to say at least. 😞

Thanks again for showing interest on this topic.

Regards
Smeden


I have successfully injected the NVMe module following the Win Raid forums guide to an Asus P9X79 Pro board and its working flawlessly - tested with both an Intel 600p and Samsung 950 Pro (with CSM turned off). 

 

As for HP not offering this in a bios update - truth be told none of the big name manufactures such as Asus, Gigabyte etc. released such bios updates either for X79 / C602. THe key difference however is that it is relatively easy to add such funtionality yorself or update the bios later by using eg.  Universal Bios Updater tool to get latest microcodes, oproms etc. since these boards have features such as USB bios flashback, dual bioses and the actual chip is more often than not socketed, meaning that if all else fails one can always get the job done with a cheap 5 USD external programmer. 

 

For the Zx20 if I had a machine available for testing I am pretty sure that something could be worked out - the main obstacle is being able to flash the modified bios contents to the bios chip in a safe and effective manner. 

Smeden
Level 2
15 9 1 2
Message 10 of 23
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Well. At least ASUS and Supermicro doesn't prevent their users from modifying the BIOS. :generic:


It's not "how" to use the Win-Raid method + online/offline reflashing that challenge me.

The main issue is that we're on our own trying to figure out, how to circumvent HP's BIOS validation system. :Crying:
"HP invents" but HP users apparently needs to "re-invent". :indifferent:

This is becoming a principal question about HP blocking their users from upcycling / reusing perfectly good hardware.
( Lets also say it's about saving the environment and have thoose guys on the wagon too. :Wink: )

Another workaround could simply be buying an Supermicro X9SRA, X9SRi-F or ASUS Z9PA-U8 which allows a customized BIOS.
Then send the Z420 motherboard to somewhere in 3'rd world where they can extract the valuable metals in a campfire.
It would be a lot cheaper than spending hours on a frustrating workaround.

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