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System Image Support for Advanced Format Hard Drives on Dell Business Client Notebooks and Desktops


Table of Contents:

  1. What is an Advanced Format Hard Disk Drive?
  2. How Does An Advanced Format HDD Impact OS Images?
  3. Timeline for Phase-in of Advanced Format (512e) Hard Drives
  4. Detecting Advanced Format (512e) Drives
  5. Re-Imaging Requirements to Support Advanced Format Hard Drives
  6. Partition Alignment Options
  7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
  8. Glossary and References

This article describes Dell™ Notebook and Desktop system image support for Advanced Format hard drives.
It was revised June 2013 and has the latest information available.


1. What is an Advanced Format Hard Disk Drive?

The Hard Disk Drive (HDD) industry is moving towards supporting Advanced Format (AF) 4k sector hard drives to address the current technological limitations with 512-byte sector HDD's and for greater storage capacity.

The transition to Advanced Format HDD's will allow storage devices to more easily adopt larger capacities in both laptops and desktops. While hard drives that transition to 4k sectors will maintain backwards compatibility current Advanced Format HDD's, also known as 512e HDD's, will emulate 512-byte SATA and will operate at 4k.

For more information on deploying Dell computers with Advanced Format HDD's including the "5-Steps for Advanced Format Readiness", refer to: Dell TechCenter.

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2. How Does An Advanced Format HDD Impact OS Images?

Even though a 512e drive is designed to be backward compatible, most of current Operating Systems (OSs) are not aware of the Advanced Format technology. Depending on the Operating System and its Service Pack, some extra steps may be required to optimize the performance of the Advanced Format (512e) HDD's and to maintain full Operating System and application functionality. These extra steps could require using alignment tools to fix any sector misalignment as a result of deploying a non-Advanced Format aware image on an Advanced Format HDD which may otherwise cause performance issues. An Operating System is Advanced Format aware if it meets the following criteria:

  • It understands the concept of physical sector vs. logical sector
  • It maximizes writes using multiples of 4k bytes
  • Disk partition starts at the boundary of 4k sector

Not all current Microsoft Operating Systems are Advanced Format aware (Table 1). A system configured with an Advanced Format drive and an Operating System that is not Advanced Format aware can experience sector misalignment, resulting in performance or compatibility issues.

Some extra steps may be required for re-imaging even with Advanced Format aware Microsoft Operating Systems, such as (refer to Table 2 and 3 for details):

  • Install/upgrade to the latest Intel Storage driver
  • Apply the applicable Microsoft KB article
  • Partition alignment
  • Flash to the latest BIOS
Table 1: Microsoft Operating Systems and their Advanced Format Awareness
Operating System Advanced Format Aware
Microsoft® Windows® 7 SP1 Yes
Microsoft® Windows® 7 Yes
Microsoft® Vista® SP2 Yes
Microsoft® Vista® SP1 Yes
Microsoft® Vista® No
Microsoft® XP - All Service Packs No
Microsoft® Windows® PE 3.0 or Later Yes
Microsoft® Windows® PE older versions No

Table 1: Microsoft Operating Systems and their Advanced Format Awareness

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3. Timeline for Phase-in of Advanced Format (512e)

Dell does not have a specific cut-over date for the transition to Advanced Format (512e) HDD's. The transition follows the below guidelines:

Table 2: Timeline for Phase-in of Advanced Format drives
HDD Size Ship Date HDD Format Available
2.5" HDD May 2011 to January 2014 512b and Advanced Format 512e
3.5" HDD January 2012 to January 2014 512b and Advanced Format 512e
All After January 2014 Advanced Format 512e only
Table 2: Timeline for Phase-in of Advanced Format drives

These transitions are applicable across all currently shipping Dell Business Client Notebooks, Desktops and Workstations with two exceptions.
  • OptiPlex XE will remain on 512b native HDD's.
  • All Precision T7500s prior to April, 2012 contain legacy drives due to a delayed transistion schedule.
NOTE:
  • While Advanced Format drives are initially being phased in, multi-unit shipments may include both Advanced Format and conventional (512b) drives.
  • Service parts will be replaced like for like.

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4. Detecting Advanced Format (512e) Drives

If the computer in use shipped after January 2014 and is not an Optiplex XE, it will have a 512e drive. If it shipped during the phase-in period as detailed in the timeline, then the computer may contain a 512e drive. You can check the drive by using the Dell Advanced Format HDD Detection Tool Utility. This tool is a console application and needs to be run from an "Elevated Command Prompt".

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5. Re-Imaging Requirements to Support Advanced Format Hard Drives

  • To perform a clean Operating System or image installation on an Advanced Format HDD, various drivers, software upgrades, or tools may need to be used (Table 2).

    Table 3: Operating System Requirements for Clean Installation on Advanced Format HDD's
    Microsoft® OS Installation Method Windows 7 &
    Windows 7 SP1
    Microsoft Vista SP1 &
    Microsoft Vista SP2
    Microsoft Vista Microsoft XP
    Using Dell Operating System Media
    Or
    Using non-Dell off-the-shelf Operating System Media
    1. Apply Microsoft KB Article: 982018.
    2. Install/upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or later. (1)
    1. Apply Microsoft KB Article: 2470478.
    2. Install/upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or later. (1)
    1. Install/upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or higher. (1)
    2. Use Alignment Tool (2) to ensure Advanced Format drive partitions are properly aligned.
    Using Windows PE 3.0 or prior
    Note: If using a Win PE version earlier than 3.0, apply Windows Automated KIT
    1. Apply Microsoft KB Article: 982018.
    2. Install/upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or later. (1)
    1. Apply Microsoft KB Article: 2470478.
    2. Install/upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or later. (1)
    Install/upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or higher. (1)
    Using Windows PE 3.1 Install/upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or higher. (1)
    Table 3: Operating System Requirements for Clean Installation on Advanced Format HDD's

    (1) The Intel RST Driver version 9.6 or higher can be found on the Dell Support website in Dell Drivers and Downloads for your system under the SATA drivers section.
    (2) Refer to the Partition Alignment Options section.

  • Deploying 512B pre-installed images to an Advanced Format Hard Disk Drive, has a few different requirements than if performing a clean Operating System (Table 4).
    Table 4: Image Installation Requirements for Advanced Format HDD's
    Microsoft® OS Installation Method
    (From 512b to 512e/4KB HDD's)
    Windows 7 &
    Windows 7 SP1
    Microsoft Vista SP1 &
    Microsoft Vista SP2
    Microsoft Vista Microsoft XP
    Using Dell OEM Factory Installed Image
    No actions required. Dell Factory Images include required components.
    Not Available Not Available
    Using Sector-Based Utilities (i.e. Norton Ghost, Altiris, etc.)
    1. Use an Alignment Tool (2) to ensure Advanced Format drive partitions are properly aligned before re-imaging.
    2. Apply Microsoft KB Article: 982018.
    3. Upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or later. trong>(1)
    1. Use an Alignment Tool (2) to ensure Advanced Format drive partitions are properly aligned before re-imaging.
    2. Apply Microsoft KB Article: 2470478.
    3. Upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or later. trong>(1)
    1. Use Alignment Tool (2) to ensure Advanced Format drive partitions are properly aligned.
    2. Upgrade Intel RST Storage driver to 9.6 or higher. (1)
    Table 4: Image Installation Requirements for Advanced Format HDD's

    (1) The Intel RST Driver version 9.6 or higher can be found on the Dell Support website in Dell Drivers and Downloads for your system under the SATA drivers section.
    (2) Refer to the Partition Alignment Options section.
  • Outside of clean and image installation requirements, their may be additional environmental requirements for installing the Operating System on an Advanced Format HDD (Table 4)
    Table 5: Additional Environment and Action Requirements for Advanced Format HDD's
    Environment Action
    IRRT / RAID 0,1 & 5 Configuration Use Alignment Tools (1) to ensure Advanced Format drive partitions are properly aligned
    Data Protection / Encryption Use Alignment Tools (1) to ensure Advanced Format drive partitions are properly aligned before encrypting the drive.
    Note: Misaligned encrypted Advanced Format drives need to be decrypted, then aligned and re-encrypted

    Table 5: Additional Environment and Action Requirements for Advanced Format HDD's

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6. Partition Alignment Options

Partition alignment is required for older Operating Systems and is recommended for new Operating Systems in order to insure proper HDD performance and imaging between HDD's of differing sector sizes. An aligned partition is when the starting offset of the partition is divisible by 4096 Bytes or by 8 for Logical Block Addressing (LBA) numbers.

Pre-installation partition alignment options of the OS include:

Using Ghost:< >Ghost 11.5 will maintain the alignment state of the Gold/Master image. If the disk image is built and aligned on a 512e/Advanced Format drive, the clones of that image will remain aligned. If the image is built on a 512B, Ghost command line switch {-align=1MB} can be used to ensure alignment when deployed to any drive.DISKPART may be used to enable storage configuration or create a partition at an explicit disk offset from a script, a remote session, or another command prompt. Dell recommends using WinPE's (3.0 or greater) Diskpart.exe from Windows Vista or Windows 7 to create the partitions for Windows XP installation. This will create a partition that is Advanced Format aligned. Without PE, starting with Windows Vista or Windows 7 DVD to create the partition for the Windows XP will create correct partitioning. On how to use DISKPART utility and how to divide the offset value of the selected partition, refer to Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: "A Description of the Diskpart Command-Line Utility" Article ID: 300415. The Dell Advanced Format Detection Tool is a hardware diagnostic tool available for download from the Dell Support website in Dell Drivers and Downloads for your system under the SATA Drives section. This tool can be used after an Operating System is installed to align the partitions of an Advanced Format drive.

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7. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Table of Contents:

  1. Do Computers With a Dell Factory Image Require any Updates to Fully Support Advanced Format Drives?
  2. Will an Image Created to Support Advanced Format Drives Work on Legacy 512B Sector Drives?
  3. Will an Image Created on an Advanced Format Drive Work on Legacy 512B Sector Drives?
  4. Will an Image Created on a 512B Sector Drive Work on an Advanced Format Drive?
  5. Will an Image That was Built on a Legacy (512) Drive Work on an AF (512e) Drive Imaged From Dell’s Factory?
  6. Will Earlier Generations of Dell Latitude, Precision or OptiPlex Images (Including Intel RST Driver) Support Advanced Format Drives?
  7. What Platforms are Impacted?
  8. How Can I get an Advanced Format Hard Disk Drive to Build Images on?
  9. What is Dell Doing to Help With Intel Storage Driver and QFE/KB Article Update Which are Required on Some Operating Systems?
  10. Why Will Windows Update Fail and Why are the QFE/KB Articles Required?
  11. What Happens if I Don’t Install the IRST Driver?
  12. Why is Partition Alignment Required?
  13. When is Partition Alignment Required?
  14. Do I Need to Align my Image on a 512B (Legacy) Drive?
  15. What Methods Can be Used to Align the Drive Image?
  16. What Happens if I Run a Partition Alignment Tool
  17. What Happens if I Don’t run a Partition Alignment Tool?
  18. Can I use Ghost and Maintain Image Alignment
  19. How do I Validate the Partitions are Aligned After the Operating System has Been Installed?
  20. What is Required for Ubuntu Linux to Support Advanced Format Drives?
  21. Where Can I get More Assistance in Deploying Dell Systems with Advanced Format Drives?
  22. What Support Options are Available for Systems Running Microsoft XP With Advanced Format Drives?
  23. Will 3rd Party Applications Work if Installed on a Computer With Advanced Format Drives?
  24. How to Resolve an Error When Attempting to Extend a Partition in the Windows XP Mini-Setup?
  25. How to Tell the Difference Between an Advanced Format hard Drive and a 512B Drive When Looking at the Label on the Drive?
  26. How is Dell Notifying Customers That a new Computer may Contain an Advanced Format Drive?
  27. What if the SATA configuration mode is set to "ATA mode" in the BIOS with an AF drive?

Do Computers With a Dell Factory Image Require any Updates to Fully Support Advanced Format Drives?

Dell systems are made ready to support Advanced Format drives when they leave the factory.

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Will an Image Created to Support Advanced Format Drives Work on Legacy 512B Sector Drives?

Yes, if the imaging steps referenced above are followed, the resulting Advanced Format image will be backwards compatible to legacy 512B sector drives.

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Will an Image Created on an Advanced Format Drive Work on Legacy 512B Sector Drives?

Yes, if the imaging steps referenced above are followed, the resulting Advanced Format image will be backwards compatible to legacy 512B sector drives.

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Will an Image Created on a 512B Sector Drive Work on an Advanced Format Drive?

Only if the imaging steps referenced above are followed, the resulting software image will support both Advanced Format drives.

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Will an Image That was Built on a Legacy (512) Drive Work on an AF (512e) Drive Imaged From Dell’s Factory?

Yes, as long as the image includes the Intel RST driver 9.6 or higher, the appropriate KB article was applied and the drive partitions are aligned.

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Will Earlier Generations of Dell Latitude, Precision or OptiPlex Images (Including Intel RST Driver) Support Advanced Format Drives?

Yes, if all other requirements from Table 2 are met, the alignment will be handled by Dell’s factory process.

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What Platforms are Impacted?

All currently shipping Notebooks, Desktops and Workstations. Dell is currently shipping 2.5" advanced format hard drives. Dell will phase in 3.5" advanced format hard drives beginning as early as January, 2012, for more information refer to the, Timeline for Phase-in of Advanced Format (512e) Hard Drives section.

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How Can I get an Advanced Format Hard Disk Drive to Build Images on?

A 512e Advanced Format hard drive customer kit is available since December, 2011. Contact your sales representative for further information.

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What is Dell Doing to Help With Intel Storage Driver and QFE/KB Article Update Which are Required on Some Operating Systems?

Dell factory process will validate the presence of the Mass Storage Driver and QFE/KB article based on the Windows images version (Table 2). Your Dell GCS PM will offer to update missing files as necessary.

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Why Will Windows Update Fail and Why are the QFE/KB Articles Required?

Applications that are built on ESENT, such as Windows Update, receive an error message and terminate when the reported physical sector size changes across Operating System sessions. Therefore, if an image is created on a non-4k drive, and cloned to an Advanced Format drive (or vice versa), after recovery, the OS will detect the different physical sector size (4k vs. 512B). The Windows update will hang up. A reboot or re-installation may resolve this issue.

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What Happens if I Don’t Install the IRST Driver?

In some instances, this error message appears during the installation: Windows setup could not configure Windows to run on this computer’s hardware.

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Why is Partition Alignment Required?

An aligned partition will provide the best performance. As much as possible every partition should start with LBA offset that is aligned to a drive’s physical 4k-sector to reduce the performance impact. Writes to the disk that are not "aligned" will require the HDD to first read the original 4096 bytes, then merge the new write data with the existing 4096 bytes that are not changed, and then write that whole block of 4096 back to the disk. This causes an approximate 20~30% performance degradation, especially for the write performance.

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When is Partition Alignment Required?

Partition alignment is recommended when performing operations that can change the alignment state, like reimaging, reinstalling or cloning.

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Do I Need to Align my Image on a 512B (Legacy) Drive?

No, 512B (legacy) hard drives do not need to be aligned. However, images originally built on 512B legacy drives may require additional alignment when installed on 512e drive. Dell’s factory process will align existing images while customers build AF compatible images.

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What Methods Can be Used to Align the Drive Image?

Options:

  • Ghost switch (during cloning) Ghost command line switch {-align=1MB}
  • Diskpart (pre-install) Use WinPE's (3.0 or greater) Diskpart.exe from Windows Vista or Windows 7 to create the partitions for Windows XP installation. This will create a partition that is Advanced Format aligned. Without PE, starting with Windows Vista or Windows 7 DVD to create the partition for the Windows XP will create correct partitioning. Additional information from Microsoft on using Diskpart can be found in Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: "A Description of the Diskpart Command-Line Utility" Article ID: 300415.

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What Happens if I Run a Partition Alignment Tool?

If a partition alignment tool is run on a drive that is already aligned, the tool will detect the alignment and complete without impacting the drive or image.

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What Happens if I Don’t run a Partition Alignment Tool?

Systems with unaligned partitions will likely experience performance degradation and some sector-based imaging tools may experience compatibility issues. It is recommended to follow the imaging steps referenced in the Detecting Advanced Format (512e) Drives section.

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Can I use Ghost and Maintain Image Alignment?

Yes, Ghost 11.5 will maintain the alignment state of the Gold/Master image. If the disk image is built and aligned on a 512e/AF drive, the clones of that image will remain aligned. If the image is built on a 512 legacy drive, Ghost command line switch {-align=1MB} can be used to ensure alignment when deployed to any drive.

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How do I Validate the Partitions are Aligned After the Operating System has Been Installed?

Options:

  • Use the Dell Advanced Format HDD Detection Tool as found on the Dell Support Website in Drivers and Downloads section, or one of the applications below.
  • Using a Script: You can use the commands wmic partition list full or wmic partition get startingoffset,name,index in Command Prompt. Alternatively, type MSINFO32 in Command Prompt, once in System Information, click Component, then Storage and finally Disk, to look for the number of partition Starting Offset; then divide it by 4096. The partition is aligned if you get an integer. More sample scripts (VBScript and Powershell) can be found at the Dell TechCenter.

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What is Required for Ubuntu Linux to Support Advanced Format Drives?

Ubuntu 10.04 and RHEL6.x or later have native support.

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Where Can I get More Assistance in Deploying Dell Systems with Advanced Format Drives?

Additional information and discussions can be found on Dell TechCenter.

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What Support Options are Available for Systems Running Microsoft XP With Advanced Format Drives?

Microsoft’s support policy for Advanced Format hard drives is described in detail in the Microsoft Knowledge Base article: "Information about Microsoft support policy for large sector drives in Windows" Article ID: 2510009. Due to Windows XP not supporting Advanced Format hard drives, Dell strongly recommends transitioning to Windows 7. If use of Windows XP is unavoidable, refer to the Re-Imaging Requirements to Support Advanced Format Hard Drives section of this article, which outlines Dell’s recommendations for deploying Windows XP on systems with Advanced Format hard drives.

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Will 3rd Party Applications Work if Installed on a Computer With Advanced Format Drives?

Administrators and users should make sure that their applications are compatible with Advanced Format drives. 3rd party applications may have reliability and performance issues when they are connected to these new drives. Contact your application and hardware vendors about their support policy for these drives.

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How to Resolve an Error When Attempting to Extend a Partition in the Windows XP Mini-Setup?

Users can resolve errors encountered when attempting to extend a partition in the Windows XP mini-setup by modifying the ExtendOemPartition key in the Sysprep.inf. The value for the ExtendOemPartition key needs to be changed from 1 to 0. Refer to Microsoft Knowledge Base Article: "Best Practices for Using Sysprep with NTFS Volumes" Article ID: 240126.

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How to Tell the Difference Between an Advanced Format hard Drive and a 512B Drive When Looking at the Label on the Drive?

Hard Drive manufacturers will be putting the Advanced Format (AF) logo on AF drives (Figure 2). However, some hard drives may have shipped without logos. If the hard drive does not have a logo, users need to check the model number of the drive to see if it is AF or 512B, or use one of the processes below for identification.

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How is Dell Notifying Customers That a new Computer may Contain an Advanced Format Drive?

A flyer is being inserted into the shipping boxes of new Enterprise Client systems that are capable of having an AF drive (Figure 3). It is important to note that the flyer is not an indicator that the system does contain an AF Drive and no action is required if they have a legacy 512 hard drive or it is not planned to re-install the Operating System on the computer.
Read the flyer carefully as it contains very important information.

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What if the SATA configuration mode is set to "ATA mode" in the BIOS with an AF drive?

Intel RST storage driver cannot be used in "ATA mode" SATA Configuration mode, Intel RST driver can be loaded only in RAID and AHCI SATA Configuration modes. Dell recommends using the configuration inclusive of the Intel RST storage driver version 9.6 or greater.

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8. Glossary and References

Glossary:

  • 512B Native: Legacy hard disk drives (HDD's), using data format of 512 byte sectors.
  • 4K Sector: New 4 kilo-Byte Sector HDD, which means there are 4096 bytes per sector.
  • 512B Emulation (512Be or 512e): 4KB sector HDD's will emulate a 512B Native HDD to ensure operating system and software compatibility. It is 4096 bytes per sector on the media, but 512 bytes per sector at the interface. All Client 4KB sector drives will use 512e.
  • Advanced Format: Refers to 4KB physical sector size (512B emulation) drives.

References:

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Identifikátor článku: SLN146650

Dátum poslednej zmeny: 11/20/2017 11:44 AM


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