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Master's Graduate
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Simplified Installation of M.2 NVMe Drives on HP z420, z620, z820

 

17 Feb 2017 > This post is substantially edited to reflect new information

 

Hello,

 

M.2 drives have greatly advanced in cost / performance and the recent release of the Samsung NVMe 960 Evo  is particularly interesting:

 

  • SEQUENTIAL READ

    Up to 3,200 MB/sec

  • SEQUENTIAL WRITE

    250 GB: Up to 1,500 MB/sec
    500 GB: Up to 1,800 MB/sec
    1000 GB: Up to 1,900 MB/sec

  • RANDOM READ (4KB, QD32)

    250 GB: Up to 330,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    500 GB: Up to 330,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    1000 GB: Up to 380,000 IOPS (Thread 4)

  • RANDOM WRITE (4KB, QD32)

    250 GB: Up to 300,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    500 GB: Up to 330,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    1000 GB: Up to 360,000 IOPS (Thread 4)

  • RANDOM READ (4KB, QD1)

    Up to 14,000 IOPS (Thread 1)

  • RANDOM WRITE (4KB, QD1)

    Up to 50,000 IOPS (Thread 1)

These results approach those of the Samsung 960 Pro, the fastest drives available.  However, the question is whether the 960 Evo may be used as a boot drive on an HP zX20 series system.

 

As NVMe memory post-dates the zX20 controller design, the special BIOS requirements for NVMe have to be added. The Samsung 950 Pro does have that capability- but are quite expensive.

In the HP zX20 series systems, the only boot-capable NVMe drive out of the box has been the quite expensive Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVMe (256Gb = $300, 512GB=$480) which has an internal BIOS that allows the system to recognize it as a boot device.

 

The performance of the Samsung 950 Pro NVMe drives is very good in zX20 workstations. On Passmark baselines, a z420  / 950 Pro 256GB NVME has a Disk Mark of 15187. For comparison, on the z420, a Samsung SM951 256GB AHCI has  a top mark of 13928.  The SM951 AHCI installed in the z620 (of forum friend Brian1965). In the z620, the HP Z Turbo Drive, which has the same Samsung SM951 AHCI drive appears to be well optimized , and made a Passmark Disk Mark of 13426, whereas the top mark for the 950 Pro 256GB NVMe is 12690. In z820's, a dual E5-2687w v2 / Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe system produces 12261 and a Samsung SM951 NVMe = 12141.

 

However, the Samsung SM951 AHCI 256GB currently costs $360 to 310, the 950 Pro 256GB costs $300+ whiile the 960 Evo 250GB costs $130 and the 500GB version: $250. (960 Pro 512GB= $480) The perofrmnace at so much lower cost means the 960 Evo is very attractive.

 

The generic sequence of modifying a system for NVMe support is complex. See:

 

"Guide about how to get full NVME support"

 

Which in effect decribes techniques by which is, "probably valid for all Intel 6,7,8,and 9-series chipset systems", using UEFI BIOS, by adding a mainboard EFI module to BIOS. But, that is an expert procedure and, like modiying the registery, seems a bit risky.

 

The Samsung 960 Evo user manual indicates that in system having a UEFI Bios v.2.3 or after, the Samsung NVM Express driver 2.1 driver supports the Samsung NVMe SSD 960 PRO, 960 EVO and 950 PRO. The installation appears quite straightforward, the drive has to be already installed in the system to load the driver. Elsewhere, I saw notation that the drive has to be GPT partitioning and not MBR, but I can't confirm that aspect.

 

So, the range of NVMe M.2 drives usable as the boot drive in zX20's is limited using the Samsung NVMe Driver 2.1.exe ,  but as it includes the very attractively priced 960 Evo, that's good news.  I should mention that  I haven't yet seen any banchmark results for the Samsung 960 Evo in an HP zX20, but i'm very optimistic.

 

 

BambiBoomZ

 

 

 PS:  Other very good news for zX20 users: the announcement of the new series of Quadro Pascal GPU's. These ae priced similarly to the Maxwell /Kepler counterparts and the performance is fantastic, the P2000 5GB outperforming the M4000 8GB in a number of uses.  

 

 

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Master's Graduate
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Simplified Installation of M.2 NVMe Drives on HP z420, z620, z820


@BambiBoomZ wrote:

Hello,

 

M.2 drives have greatly advanced in cost / performance and the recent release of the Samsung NVme 960 Evo  is particularly interesting:

 

  • SEQUENTIAL READ

    Up to 3,200 MB/sec

  • SEQUENTIAL WRITE

    250 GB: Up to 1,500 MB/sec
    500 GB: Up to 1,800 MB/sec
    1000 GB: Up to 1,900 MB/sec

  • RANDOM READ (4KB, QD32)

    250 GB: Up to 330,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    500 GB: Up to 330,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    1000 GB: Up to 380,000 IOPS (Thread 4)

  • RANDOM WRITE (4KB, QD32)

    250 GB: Up to 300,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    500 GB: Up to 330,000 IOPS (Thread 4)
    1000 GB: Up to 360,000 IOPS (Thread 4)

  • RANDOM READ (4KB, QD1)

    Up to 14,000 IOPS (Thread 1)

  • RANDOM WRITE (4KB, QD1)

    Up to 50,000 IOPS (Thread 1)

As these results approach those of the Samsung 960 Pro, the fastest drives available- but quite expensive, the 960 Evo 250GB costs $130, 500GB: $250 (960 Pro 512GB= $330), and 1TB: $480 (960Pro 1TB=$630), the 96- Evo is very attractive to comtemplate using.

 

The performance of NVMe drives is very good in zX20 workstations. On Passmark baseiines, a z420  / 950 Pro 256GB NVME has a Disk Mark of 15187. For comparison, my z420 /Samsung SM951 256GB AHCI has a mark of 11559.  In the z620 the AHCI mysteriously rates higher than the 950 Pro NVme, with a top mark of 13928 for the SM951 AHCI ( <Forum friend Brian1965). The HP Z-Turbo Drive 256GB AHCI I use in a z620 is second at 13426 and the top mark for the 950 Pro 256GB NVMe is 12690.  In the world of z820's, a dual E5-2687w v2 / Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe system produces 12261 and a Samsung SM951 NVMe = 12141.

 

However, in the HP z-X20 series systems, the only boot-capable NVMe drive out of the box appears to be the quite expensive Samsung 950 Pro M.2 NVMe (256Gb = $300, 512GB=$480) which has an internal BIOS that allows the system to recognize it as a boot device. 

 

The sequence of modifying a system for NVMe support is complex. See:

 

"Guide about how to get full NVME support"

 

Which in effect decribes techniques by which is, "probably valid for all Intel 6,7,8,,and 9-series chipset systems", using UEFI BIOS, by adding a mainboard EFI module to BIOS. But, that is an expert procedure and like modiying the registery, a risky one.

 

With more affordable, high performance NVMe drives, that probably many users that would like to install on zX20 systems, without complex modifications to the system BIOS, I am curious to know if HP would consider releasing BIOS for zX20 systems with NVMe support?

 

BambiBoomZ

 

 

 

 

 


 

I run the Passmark disk benchmark on my Z420 + Samsung 950 Pro and got varying results. Best result out of three was 14222, the other two results were around 11500 and 12200. Bearing in mind that other disk benchmarking software e.g. Crystal Disk or the test in the Samsung Magician app returns consistant results (c.a. read 2100MB/s, write 950MB/s) I am not really convinced to what extent these results can be trusted. BTW worst result was first, then best, then the intermediate one, so any 'overheating' theories can be thrown out the window.

 

As for other NVMe drives, would be interested whether the Intel 600p drives work, since these are relatively inexpensive and offer good performance.

 

I would not count on HP putting in any additional features into the Zx20 bios since they have the Zx40 line out and NVMe is one of the upsides for upgrading . At the end of the day until you actually test a drive you can't 100% say whether it is compatible or not - the 950 Pro I have was left over from a Z170 build I dismantled and sold off and I recall various posts i.a. on this forum saying 'it will not work, you have to have a Zx40 for NVMe' yet it works fine.

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Master's Graduate
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Simplified Installation of M.2 NVMe Drives on HP z420, z620, z820

Looking at the bios revision notes for the Z420/Z620:

 

Version 3.84

HP strongly recommends transitioning promptly to this updated BIOS version.

WARNING: After installing this BIOS version onto the system, prior BIOS versions cannot be installed onto the system.

Updated Intel Memory Reference Code to v2.00.00.05.

Updated Intel Processor uCode to 0x427.

Enabled Secure Erase support with Z Turbo Drive PCIe-based SSD storage solution.

Added support for future Z Turbo Drive versions.

Fixed an issue where setting boot order using WMI did not work properly in some configurations.

Fixed a reboot failure with M.2 devices and certain processors.

Fixed an issue where Z Turbo Drive would not resume from S3 with DriveLock enabled.

Fixed an issue where system would hang or blue screen with Z Turbo Drive installed in PCIe 3.0 slot.

Fixed an issue where system would hang during large file transfers with AMT enabled.

Fixed an issue where system would hang during post with AXIS T8312 keypad.

Fixed an issue where system would hang entering F10 setup with QLogic QLE2560 PCIe HBA.

Fixed an issue where system would experience PMM allocation error with HP NC365T 4 port NIC.

Fixed an issue where installing multiple USB hubs could cause some USB hubs to stop working.

Fixed an issue which could cause memory parity errors with 16GB memory modules installed in the Z620 riser under rare cases (Z620 only).

Added CPUAltPwrPolicy setting in WMI to fix issue where motherboard components would resonate causing audible noise.

 

Version 3.69

Corrected issue that caused WMI tools to get inconsistent results on "Get" operations which would result in user "Set" commands to fail.

Disabled Capsule 2.0 feature to fix issue where system would not boot when using this unsupported functionality.

Fixed issue where systems with 3TB external USB HDDs were halting during BIOS boot.

Fixed an issue where Digigram PCX822v2 PCI card would hang during POST (no video) due to incorrectly reported OROM bar length.

Fixed OHCI issue that caused failure to load drivers for certain cards including Teradici PCoIP Remote Workstation Cards.

Fixed an issue where some applications would request more power than the system can supply.

Improved verbose Machine Check Architecture error messaging.

Improved Intel VT-d error handling.

Updated Intel MEBx to 8.0.0.0072.

Added support for Z Turbo Drive PCIe-based SSD storage solution.

Added support for Pseudo Target Row Refresh (pTRR) DIMM functionality.

Added thermal support for NVIDIA Tesla K40.

Added 30, 40, 50 and 60 second POST delay options.

Set default MMIO assignment mode to "auto."

Added ability to assign 128 PCIe buses to PCIe devices in systems with a single CPU.

Enabled automatic resource assignment above 4GB BAR size threshold and added F10 Option to enable manually forcing resource assignment.

 

 

My assumption is v3.69 refers to the Turbo Drive G1 AHCI and v3.84 to the G2 NVMe versions.

The main thing is that the Samsung 950 and 960 drives are confirmed to work, but would be interested if anyone can verify compatibility with other NVMe drives.

Also just to clarify - do not assume that just because upon installation you cannot easily see the drive in the bios the drive will not work. The HP bios is pretty basic and the main thing is that when doing a clean installation of Win 10 the drive appears as a selectable destination for the OS install.

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Simplified Installation of M.2 NVMe Drives on HP z420, z620, z820


@BambiBoomZ wrote:

 

17 Feb 2017 > This post is substantially edited to reflect new information

  

 

So, the range of NVMe M.2 drives usable as the boot drive in zX20's is limited using the Samsung NVMe Driver 2.1.exe ,  but as it includes the very attractively priced 960 Evo, that's good news.  I should mention that  I haven't yet seen any banchmark results for the Samsung 960 Evo in an HP zX20, but i'm very optimistic.

 

 

 


 

Strictly speaking the Samsung NVMe driver is not required for the drive to work since it will function on the standard NVMe drivers that come with Win 10.

That said, speaking from 950 Pro experience, the Samsung drivers should be installed to maximise performance - either at the WIndows installation stage or afterwards, when the workstation is up and running.

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Rkiss Honor Student
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Simplified Installation of M.2 NVMe Drives on HP z420, z620, z820

I'm trying to use a 1tb 950 pro, but without any luck. Looking for help to try and finish the upgrade. I uefi installed windows on the drive and updated the drivers at the same time.

 

But I can't get bios to recognize the drive and thus boot from it. I tried putting mass boot to efi, but when I tried doing the same with the other 2 my computer fails to boot and I need to pull the battery. 

 

Z620

Duel 2680 cpus

64 gig ram

LSI 9212 sas controller

1 1tb samsung pro

1 512gb samsung evo

1 sas toshiba 200gb 2.5 ssd

1 sas hsgt HE10

1 nvidia quadro 2000

 

Thanks for any help!

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Simplified Installation of M.2 NVMe Drives on HP z420, z620, z820

Rkiss,

 

I've never installed a 950 Pro,  but adding NVMe to  zX20, requires  UEFI Windows and BIOS plus the installation of a special BIOS module and driver to enable an NVMe M.2 drive as the boot drive. The 950 Pro "legacy BIOS" is to update a system predating NVme so it can communicate with NVMe memory.

 

I've also read that it's necessary to first remove all the other drives during installation and I include particularly the HBA as that has it's own BIOS to enable the system to control the boot drive.  I'm guessing that at the moment, the system is  seeing only the HBA as the connection for the boot drive.

 

Also, you should check this ,  but I believe that the boot drive will need to use GPT partitions- not MBR.  If this is ncecessary keep in mind that simply changing frrom MBR to GPT will destroy the files, so make a copy of everything - a system image too and then convert the partition.

 

Again, these are not confident assertions from experience but only areas to consider and research.  I'd thought of adding a 950 Pro or 960 Evo to a z420, but after using a Samsung SM951 in both systems,  I don't feel there is a strong enough real-world value in M.2 in my uses- I'm looking at 1TB SATA SSD's instead.

 

Cheers,

 

BambiBoomZ

 

 

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I think I need to find a bios mod since I already upgraded to 3.91 and can't find the drive to boot. 

 

I've done the rest including GPT formats before I installed windows.

 

I went the multi tiered approach for storage. My plan was to use part of the other m.2 as cache for the HE10. 

 

 

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Has anyone been able to confirm a  working 960 EVO on a Zx20 machine?  I have a z420 with an 250 GB 960 EVO and I can't get it to boot from the SSD. 

 

I installed windows to a normal SATA HD and once windows boots it sees the 960 just fine.  Disk benchmarks indicate its working just fine.  

 

I've set the Mass Storage option to EFI

 

I can boot the windows installation media through EFI and install to the drive 

 

Any help would be appreciated

 

Thanks

 

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etem1976 Top Student
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Hi,

 

I have HP Z420 Workstation and install on PCIe Angelbird Wings PX1 with TOSHIBA/OCZ Rvd 400 M.2 NVME.

I can install from USB Windows 10 Pro x64 on Toshiba/OCZ NVME Drive. But I can't boot it over them.

Do you have Idee for me, what can I do there?

Can You help me there?

 

Thanks..

 

Have a nice Day

 

 

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@etem1976 wrote:

Hi,

 

I have HP Z420 Workstation and install on PCIe Angelbird Wings PX1 with TOSHIBA/OCZ Rvd 400 M.2 NVME.

I can install from USB Windows 10 Pro x64 on Toshiba/OCZ NVME Drive. But I can't boot it over them.

Do you have Idee for me, what can I do there?

Can You help me there?

 

Thanks..

 

Have a nice Day

 

 


THe problem most likely is that the drive does not have legacy oprom compatibility support like the Samsung 950 Pro, and the standard bios does not have NVMe support.

 

Should you wish you can try to flash the bios with the NVMe module added directly from within the bios - Z420 / Z620 version, based on standard v.3.91 bios: https://ufile.io/y0zyf   and see if that helps.

 

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