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Thread: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid




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    Default GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    Hi There,

    I am moving a 2-disk spanned volume from a Server 2008 machine to a Vista machine. My problem is that my motherboard (GA-M61SME-S2, BIOS ver. f9) backs up the BIOS by writing in a small HPA it creates at the end of the first hard drive. This modifies the partition size on one of the drives in the dynamic pack, making it invalid to windows.

    Is there any way of disabling HPA backup of BIOS or selecting the drive with this motherboard?

    Thanks,
    Stephen

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    You can Zero out the Drive that has that written onto it, and then move your array over. Then the HPA would not be written into again until you flash or update the DMI pool. Once your array is moved it will be ok if new info is written into the HPA

    To Directly answer you, no on that board you cannot change the backup method it will write into the HPA and the Backup chip in a NON AHCI/RAID Setup

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    I found when you zero the drive with the Drives manufacturers Dos/Linux bootable media (ie Seatools, WDC Diagnostics, Hitachi DFT) that the Gigabyte Bios has already "cut out" it's HPA usage on the Primary drive and zeroing the drive will only zero those reported as useable by the bios. That equates to all user sectors minus around 2100+ sectors = 1MB+ (assuming 1MB bios image size) where the HPA resides.

    The Only way you can realise the whole drive capacity again, is make it a non primary drive or an external drive, where you could then zero the full drives useable area.
    Last edited by VorLonUK; 01-02-2009 at 12:10 AM.
    GA-P35C-DS3R Rev2.0 F11 bios, E8200 (@3.0Ghz), OCZ DDR3 PC3-10666 Reaper 4GB (@1200Mhz), Xonar D1, 8800GTS 512, Corsair HX520 (Single 12volt line, Max 40A), WDC 3200aaks/5000aaks in AHCI mode, Vista 64 Premium.

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    Ohh ya, thanks VorLon!! I use KillDisk windows and DOS versions, have you tested this program and does the above apply? Or did you mean with some other programs that may be free, or just in general other apps? As with KillDisk partitioned or not you can select the disk as a whole or partition

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    Quote Originally Posted by Lsdmeasap View Post
    Ohh ya, thanks VorLon!! I use KillDisk windows and DOS versions, have you tested this program and does the above apply? Or did you mean with some other programs that may be free, or just in general other apps? As with KillDisk partitioned or not you can select the disk as a whole or partition
    As far as i know there are only a few proffesional utilities that will give you any form of access to the GB HPA.
    When you consider it, that's exactly the purpose of an HPA. It's so that the hardware is protecting an area that is impervious to software manipulation, ie a virus.

    I don't know about KillDisk, but I either use the low level utilities (WDC Diagnostics, Seatools, Hitachi DFT) to quickly zero the whole disk or the first and last million sectors, or Acronis Tools.

    I don't know how much info KillDisk gives you, but i bet it only shows (if it indicates as such) the user sectors the bios reports as available, ie after it's retained it's HPA.

    You can check this by the standard most HD manufacturers lay down for the sectors available to the user.
    New Hard drives (ie ones where the reallocated sector reserve pool hasn't run out - so to speak) are advertised as such:-

    320GB = 625,142,448 User Sectors
    400GB = 781,422,768 User Sectors
    500GB = 976,773,168 User sectors
    750GB = 1,465,149,168 User Sectors
    1TB = 1,953,525,168 User Sectors

    The Figures have been taken from the WDC site, but are usually the same for all other makes.

    What you should see with a low level program is your bios reporting these amounts when your hard drive is ANY OTHER drive on your Gigabyte System other than the PRIMARY drive.

    On your Primary Drive you'll see figures similiar to this, except they will be in the region of (for 1MB bios images) 2100 sectors less.

    Out of interest I did use tools such as MHDD, Victoria & the HD manufacturers tools to shrink or delete the HPA. But as the bios is "carving" out that area as it's own and using an HPA for what HPA's were designed for, any HD wiping utility, will only wipe what it is told is available by the bios.

    A few of these tools sprang up when some oems (apparently) were sending out larger capacity drives to replace faulty smaller ones. Rather than saying (for instance) "here's a 160GB drive to replace your faulty 80GB drive", they would deliberately SET drive size via HD tools to the original size, denying the user the full potential of the replacement drive. In depth user tools appeared not only to see HPA's exist but to also reclaim (Set Drive Max) the drives full capacity, so the user could use all the replacement drive.

    If a utility did display the drives whole advertised amount and say accessed it by different means, such as the Secure Erase feature some new HD's have such as Hitachi (where the drive invokes Self Erasing), I wonder what affect it would have on the normal running of the Motherboard. Especially if you prevent the Write of the bios image into HPA. That could cause booting problems with GB boards.
    Last edited by VorLonUK; 01-03-2009 at 12:17 AM.
    GA-P35C-DS3R Rev2.0 F11 bios, E8200 (@3.0Ghz), OCZ DDR3 PC3-10666 Reaper 4GB (@1200Mhz), Xonar D1, 8800GTS 512, Corsair HX520 (Single 12volt line, Max 40A), WDC 3200aaks/5000aaks in AHCI mode, Vista 64 Premium.

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    I was able to fix the dynamic disk using a hard drive tool on bootable cd to change the drive size back to its native size, effectively removing the HPA. The 2 drives are back in the original machine and the dynamic disk is working fine.

    I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to move these 2 drives (compromising one volume in windows) to the computer with the Gigabyte mobo. You mentioned there is no way to disable or modify the location of the HPA. Is there any other way this could be accomplished without backing up the drive and starting all over? (these are both 1TB drives and I would have to go buy a couple more to backup and start over).

    Thanks for the help so far and I look forward to any suggestions!

    Stephen

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    Ahh well VorLon, I do think KillDisk wipes it then, it even makes it so the disks are non bootable and not set active, I think all data is zero'd using D.o.D specifications (Or worse if you choose to spend that long. >>>




    Here is some info about it if you want to look, not sure if it will offer you any knowledge about what we are discussing though>>>

    Active@ Kill Disk Hard Drive Eraser. Low Level Format.

    I use 3.1 and 5.0 Professional. They do show the correct Sectors, and also show the HPA Section I assume as unallocated, but 1MB on my RAID array as I used to have two drives there instead of three and one section I left out of the array to let the BIOS be copied into it and it worked as shortly after I recovered from it. So needless to say I have left that section alone >>>



    Lumstar, can't you just backup the Data you need or move it to another system thru your network and then move the disks over and set them up?

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    I see KillDisk shows the full User Sector Count for a 250GB drive, but it looks like you have Disk 1 selected on the screenshot?

    It seems the HPA normally resides on the Primary Drive (Disk 0 if others are connected too)

    Unallocated space might have something to do with the Raid setup? Because as far as I can tell KillDisk and other programs like it can only see the size the Bios says - no more no less (and this is after the HPA chunk has been taken). I suppose it could name the HPA as "Unallocated" although it's terminology would be wrong. Programs such as MHDD, will indicate through it's interface if an HPA is present.

    The thing is, whatever OS you use, the bios and post are always going to occur Before any software can be used indepenently of it. So the bios takes control from the outset.

    I'm assuming that KillDisk is no different in this regard to all the other utilities (like it) I've used on a GB Motherboard.

    An HPA wouldn't be very effective (nor really an "HPA") if it could be manipulated by software.

    Yep KillDisk has all the usual types of secure erase Acronis has, right up to the very lengthy (but thorough) Peter Gutmann Algorithm.
    Secure Deletion of Data from Magnetic and Solid-State Memory

    Lumstar:-

    I was able to fix the dynamic disk using a hard drive tool on bootable cd to change the drive size back to its native size, effectively removing the HPA. The 2 drives are back in the original machine and the dynamic disk is working fine.
    I must admit I'm not too well informed about Dynamic disks, but on your original post you said:-

    This modifies the partition size on one of the drives in the dynamic pack, making it invalid to windows.
    The partition size will effectively change simply because the Physical drive size is different - but the GB HPA doesn't change any partitions as such.

    I will read up on this, but I'm assuming that the Dynamic Disk pair are not happy as they are of unequal sizing? If that is the case and you can't remove the GB HPA (which I'm fairly sure you can't and if you could it would cause board issues), using the HD SET MAX type tools, could you not offset the second drive's size, ie 2100 sectors less (approx). If your board uses the 1024kb size bios flash I should be able to tell you the exact amount of sectors to offset it by. Or i could tell you how to find this info.

    The disks might not be an exact match in the way that geometry's line up , ie you may have offsets at the beginning of one drive and at the end of the other, although as that portion is only 1MB in size it wouldn't neccessarily be noticed.

    Edit:-

    Just re-read your post (again - old age )

    So it's not the sizing issue per-se that's causing the problem with your Dynamic Volumes, which I assume are spanned? But the fact that when simply moved the Volume to the GB Board the Bios HPA invalidates the complete Volume, because it essentially alters/corrupts what has already been written?

    I've just had an idea.

    Get an el cheapo HD and connect it to sata port 0 and install windows... The HPA will be invoked.
    Then add your your Dynamic Volume pair to say port 1 & 2. They shouldn't be altered in any way. As long as there are compatabilities between server 2008 and Vista, the Dynamic Volume should stay intact.
    I might be missing something, but if you could just use a spare sata basic say 40GB drive, it could prove the point.

    Edit 2:-

    Didn't Realise this board has only 2 sata ports! However some people might only use the IDE side of things and I'm assuming if only an IDE HD is used the HPA is created on that.
    So as above, try installing just an IDE drive and put the OS on it. Then connect up the Volume on sata ports 0 & 1 and Hope! that the board doesn't reassign the HPA. You are limited for options though with this board, as it is a budget board.

    Hopefully too you'll have no other hardware issues, because it can be a unreliable process moving something created on one particular hardware setup to another.
    Last edited by VorLonUK; 01-03-2009 at 09:30 PM.
    GA-P35C-DS3R Rev2.0 F11 bios, E8200 (@3.0Ghz), OCZ DDR3 PC3-10666 Reaper 4GB (@1200Mhz), Xonar D1, 8800GTS 512, Corsair HX520 (Single 12volt line, Max 40A), WDC 3200aaks/5000aaks in AHCI mode, Vista 64 Premium.

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    Yes, Vorlon I do have HDD 1 Selected, that is the only NON RAID Drive I have. My RAID is Disk 0

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    Default Re: GA-M61SME-S2 HPA makes dynamic disk invalid

    Quote Originally Posted by Lsdmeasap View Post
    Yes, Vorlon I do have HDD 1 Selected, that is the only NON RAID Drive I have. My RAID is Disk 0
    It must have put the HPA on one of the drives in the RAID array.
    GA-P35C-DS3R Rev2.0 F11 bios, E8200 (@3.0Ghz), OCZ DDR3 PC3-10666 Reaper 4GB (@1200Mhz), Xonar D1, 8800GTS 512, Corsair HX520 (Single 12volt line, Max 40A), WDC 3200aaks/5000aaks in AHCI mode, Vista 64 Premium.

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