Author Topic: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?  (Read 11722 times)

Offline MrLeek

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 44
How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« on: March 28, 2010, 01:50:48 AM »
At the risk of being awarded with "newbie question of the day", what is wrong with this?

- Set up CPU, mobo and 1 hard drive.
- Connect it to the power supply/monitor and do the initial test (i.e. make sure it's all working, CPU is not overheating, etc).
- Gigabyte does its thing and adds the BIOS copy to the hard drive.
- Switch off and add the second hard drive - this will be your parity drive!
- Boot into unRAID, configure the first drive (with the BIOS copy) as a data drive and the second drive as the parity one.

For what I'm reading, the major problem comes when the HPA copies the BOIS onto the parity drive. Get this to happen onto a data drive and there's not a problem.

Or is that too simple a solution?
CPU: 2.7 GHz AMD Sempron 140
Motherboard: Asus M4A78L-M
RAM: Kingston 1 GB DDR2 800 RAM
PSU: Corsair CMPSU-450HXUK
HDD: 2 x Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green EARS

...yes, my box is a real beast!!! :)

Offline unraided

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 543
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2010, 02:07:04 AM »
Hi MrLeek. I have two recent Gigabyte mobo's, and I've never enabled such a feature (I don't see any point in using it anyways), so I would just simply disable it. My basic rule of thumb for an unraid is if you don't plan to use a device/feature that is on your mobo, simply just disable it. The least you have to worry about, the least you have to conquer and divide when you need to troubleshoot for problem when they arise.

Refer to the thread below:

http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=4638.0

I've read about this before, and often members have upgraded their BIOS to the latest firmware, and just disable this (if no option is present in your curent BIOS)

Hope this helps.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2010, 02:53:43 PM by unraided »
Whatcha talkin bout Willis?

Offline Kaygee

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 548
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2010, 04:49:28 AM »
Quote
How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem

Don't buy a Gigabyte MB.  :D

Offline purko

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1431
    • FAQ
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2010, 05:31:44 AM »
Quote
How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem

Don't buy a Gigabyte MB.  :D

Oh, I feel the same!  I am very angry at Gigabyte for this whole HPA fiasco.
A complex system that does not work is invariably found to have evolved from a simpler system that worked just fine.

Offline MrLeek

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 44
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2010, 05:59:02 AM »
Quote
How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem

Don't buy a Gigabyte MB.  :D

Oh, I feel the same!  I am very angry at Gigabyte for this whole HPA fiasco.


To be honest, this issue is making me rethink my choice of using a Gigabyte board. Whilst you should be able to turn it off in the BIOS (as unraided has pointed out) the mobo manual is seriously lacking details on how to do it. The feature is great for a desktop, but a server is different.

I am curious if my newbie solution could avoid the problem; I've had several Gigabyte boards before and they've all been great. Moreover, if you could predict which HD the HPA will appear on. But sadly my focus has to be on getting unRAID working for me.

As a result I'm updating my choice of components. I've dropped it in my final hardware check thread, so please comment accordingly.
CPU: 2.7 GHz AMD Sempron 140
Motherboard: Asus M4A78L-M
RAM: Kingston 1 GB DDR2 800 RAM
PSU: Corsair CMPSU-450HXUK
HDD: 2 x Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green EARS

...yes, my box is a real beast!!! :)

Offline Joe L.

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 18831
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2010, 07:48:42 AM »
At the risk of being awarded with "newbie question of the day", what is wrong with this?

- Set up CPU, mobo and 1 hard drive.
- Connect it to the power supply/monitor and do the initial test (i.e. make sure it's all working, CPU is not overheating, etc).
- Gigabyte does its thing and adds the BIOS copy to the hard drive.
- Switch off and add the second hard drive - this will be your parity drive!
- Boot into unRAID, configure the first drive (with the BIOS copy) as a data drive and the second drive as the parity one.

For what I'm reading, the major problem comes when the HPA copies the BOIS onto the parity drive. Get this to happen onto a data drive and there's not a problem.

Or is that too simple a solution?
Yes, if that data drive with the HPA fails (or the cable to it comes loose), the BIOS on the motherboard will not detect it and then add an HPA to a different disk.

If it happens to pick a data drive it will trash anything in the last 2 Meg of the disk AND make the drive size look smaller to unRAID.   This will then cause it to not match the size in the superblock.  That in turn makes unRAID think it is a different disk than expected. Now it thinks you have one failed drive and another that has been replaced so your array will not start. (as far as it is concerned, you have two failed drives)

If it happens to pick the parity drive to add the HPA instead of a data drive it will then look about 2 meg smaller and potentially cause about 2 million parity errors.  It will then be detected as a different disk when you next reboot.  If it happens to make the parity-disk look smaller than any of of your data disks your array will not be able to start because the parity disk is too small.

Still think the HPA is OK on a data drive?  I know I've had to help people with both these scenarios.    In one case the added HPA took over the entire disk (all but 32 Meg of it) and really caused some hair pulling.  If you cannot disable the HPA be prepared eventually for one of these problems.  I'd say pick a different MB or update the BIOS to one where the HPA "feature" can be disabled.

Joe L.

Offline MrLeek

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 44
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2010, 08:11:03 AM »
Yes, if that data drive with the HPA fails (or the cable to it comes loose), the BIOS on the motherboard will not detect it and then add an HPA to a different disk.

If it happens to pick a data drive it will trash anything in the last 2 Meg of the disk AND make the drive size look smaller to unRAID.   This will then cause it to not match the size in the superblock.  That in turn makes unRAID think it is a different disk than expected. Now it thinks you have one failed drive and another that has been replaced so your array will not start. (as far as it is concerned, you have two failed drives)

If it happens to pick the parity drive to add the HPA instead of a data drive it will then look about 2 meg smaller and potentially cause about 2 million parity errors.  It will then be detected as a different disk when you next reboot.  If it happens to make the parity-disk look smaller than any of of your data disks your array will not be able to start because the parity disk is too small.

Still think the HPA is OK on a data drive?  I know I've had to help people with both these scenarios.    In one case the added HPA took over the entire disk (all but 32 Meg of it) and really caused some hair pulling.  If you cannot disable the HPA be prepared eventually for one of these problems.  I'd say pick a different MB or update the BIOS to one where the HPA "feature" can be disabled.

Joe L.

Thanks for the reply Joe - and I'm way ahead of you. Currently looking at an Asus M4A78L-M and Sempron 140 CPU instead to see if that is up to the task.

I hadn't considered what would happen if the drive that contained the HPA was damaged (or removed); I was just looking at the start of an unRAID build - which is where I'm starting from. Add the scenarios that you've described - and something like it is almost certain to happen during the lifetime of the raid - and the result could be disaster.

What bothers me is that it's not clear from Gigabyte which boards come with this feature and the BIOS option to turn it off is not obvious. I spend around 30 minutes looking at the manual for the GB board I was going to use and I still couldn't tell if it had HPA.  ??? Maybe I'm dumb...  :)
CPU: 2.7 GHz AMD Sempron 140
Motherboard: Asus M4A78L-M
RAM: Kingston 1 GB DDR2 800 RAM
PSU: Corsair CMPSU-450HXUK
HDD: 2 x Western Digital 2TB Caviar Green EARS

...yes, my box is a real beast!!! :)

Offline One2go

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 176
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2010, 10:38:29 AM »
Quote
How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?

It is for this reason that after researching this site I decided on an Asus AMD board. I have never seen such a smooth operation. It is not the time worth futzing around with all this different tech features that are not used by UnRaid. Hope you get to a decision that will give you peace of mind.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2010, 10:41:11 AM by One2go »

Offline jimwhite

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 595
  • Linux Newbie at 66 years :)
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2010, 08:11:11 PM »
My last two HTPC motherboards were (are) Gigabyte... I've NEVER run into this problem since the boot drive was formatted in another machine...

 :D
;)
Jim
___________________________________________________________________
Get Limed.... get unRAID !

Offline sdballer

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 46
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2010, 01:57:48 AM »
If you disable the feature and your cmos battery dies, would this setting come back? That would worry me.

Offline Rajahal

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6120
  • Greenleaf Technology
    • Greenleaf Technology
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2010, 08:42:51 AM »
If you disable the feature and your cmos battery dies, would this setting come back? That would worry me.
I think it depends on the board.  On Gigabyte's newer boards, HPA is disabled by default, so in that case the answer would be no.  However, on Gigabyte's older boards (like the one in my custom title), HPA is enabled by default, so I would assume the answer would be yes.

As previously mentioned, the simple solution is to just avoid Gigabyte boards.  I prefer Biostar, especially the board in my sig.
Like us on Facebook | Follow me on Twitter
Looking for a prebuilt server? Greenleaf Technology
Building it yourself? Greenleaf Prototype Builds
Troubleshooting | Wiki

Offline MortenSchmidt

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 224
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2010, 10:21:56 AM »

Joe, That sounds brutal! I would totally take the advice of going non-gigabyte, but I have a P35-DS3R board with 8 SATA ports that is about to become surplus when I upgrade my desktop computer. I'm not buying probably not buying Gigabyte again for the desktop, by the way.

Problem is there is not option to disable and I am already on the latest BIOS.

Do you know if there is any truth to the one person reporting he might have gotten rid of HPA by setting the SATA controllers to AHCI mode ?

I asked in another thread if running the Parity drive off of an add-on SATA controller would be a solution, but if understood your description, that would only solve some of the problem, what do you think?

By the way, MrLeeTek - This HPA (Host Protected Area) is created by the Gigabyte feature called "Virtual Dual BIOS", which is mentioned in the featurelist for the motherboard (at least in the manual). I agree Gigabyte is not being very open about it.
unRAID 5.0.5 - CM 590, Gigabyte P35-DS3R, C2D E4500, 2GB Kingston, Corsair TX550, SAS-LP-MV8, 2 x SI3132, 15 drives

Online NAS

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3674
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2010, 02:19:49 PM »
Thanks for this guys. Im looking at new MB right now and Gigabyte just got removed from my list
Have a USB card reader working with unRAID? or know one that doesn't work?
Contribute its model number here http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=23008.0

Offline Rob_Esc

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 125
  • Supermicro X7SPA-HF (A) Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R (C-)
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2010, 07:11:04 PM »
Quote
How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem

Don't buy a Gigabyte MB.  :D

I just pulled the trigger on

SuperMicro MBD-X7SBE
SuperMicro AOC-SAT2-MV8

After careful consideration and because of this:
Ten Terabyte Toaster
Supermicro X7SPA-HF, 2x2GB G.Skill DDR2 667 SO-DIMM, Corsair 400CX, 6x Hitachi 2TB, Lian Li PC-Q08B

Offline terrastrife

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 297
Re: How to avoid the Gigabyte HPA problem?
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2010, 08:50:06 PM »
6 drives with the hpa and 1 drive about to melt?
X2 4000+, M2N-E SLI, 6GB 667, SASLP-MV8, MV 88SX7042, NeoPower 550
iCute S901, 3x Norco SS-500, 15 HDDs >20TB Protected