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man8user

2010.0: Host Protect Area Problem

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Merry X-mas.

 

Had some time today to arrange my PC a bit and I discovered that somehow all 4 of my SATA hard drives got "infected" with HPA. Looking for the source of it, I traced back their purchase from NewEgg about 12-18 months back. Two of them had been exposed to WinXP earlier and so I do not know. But the other 2 had never had any contact with Windoze and they were under Mandriva 2010.0.

 

Installing Mandriva would not put an HPA I believe. Or, would it?

 

I emptied 2 500 GB Seagate ST3500320AS for preparation for MDADM. One had a junk Windoze partition with HPA and I nuked it. The other had an XFS file system with all the usable area and nothing else. That's when I discovered the HPA nightmare. These drives are /dev/sda and /dev/sdb in my setup. On bootup, the "dmesg" is showing HPA as 976,771,055 / 976,773,168 for both of them. The "hdparm -N" is also showing the same information.

 

So, I issued "hdparm -N p976773168 /dev/sda" and then for /dev/sdb and both reported successful for permanent HPA removal. That did not last very long because the very next reboot with power cycle reverted them back to their original HPA 976,771,055 / 976,773,168!

 

Perplexed, I went into Mandriva Control Center and then to "Change Disk Partition" section. These two 500GB disks are showing as 465 GB disks which is correct assuming the HPA is still intact (976,771,055 * 512 is 500.106,780,160 and then dividing by 1024*1024*1024 gets the 465GB number).

 

So, I would appreciate any input on who is reverting back the HPA and with the same HPA size on both disks every time!

Thank you.

 

My mobo: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R with Intel Core2 Quad Q9550 at 4Ghz. This is 2 years old. There is no other BIOS related software running.

 

[moved from Software by spinynorman]

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So, I would appreciate any input on who is reverting back the HPA and with the same HPA size on both disks every time!

Thank you.

 

My mobo: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R with Intel Core2 Quad Q9550 at 4Ghz. This is 2 years old. There is no other BIOS related software running.

 

It's the mobo BIOS that is creating the HPA, especially Gigabyte BIOSes are notorious for that.

The good news is that there is a BIOS option to turn this off, can't remember how it's called but you should be able to find it.

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Actually this ***can*** be a symptom of the Mandriva installation.

The installer was using cfdisk backend for partitioning, and it is well known that cfdisk has certain problem aligning partitions correctly on large disks with GUID partition tables, or modern SSD disks.

A safer choice (till diskdrake switches to parted as its backend) is preformatting the disk using gparted liveCD, and then setting just the mount points during installation.

Edited by scarecrow

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I suspect it is the Gigabyte BIOS. Here are some links:

 

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

 

GA-EP45-UD3R BIOS: http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=9433.0

 

 

The Pg-51 of the printed mobo booklet shows "Dual BIOS Recovery Source" that defaults to HPA. However, the BIOS would not even provide me that option on next bootup.

 

I went to Gigabyte site to check out what other BIOS revs they made since Dec 2008. I have rev F4. Since then they made 8 more revs ending at F12 dated Jan 2010 and none of these have anything to do with HPA -- at least from their gist of the revs.

 

I guess I have to digest the indignity of letting an external piece of software gaining control of the PC and not letting me have that control back when I want it. Sounds like windoze to me! Next time when I upgrade any of the PCs at home I would select a mobo vendor more carefully.

Thanks to tux99 and scarecrow for their input.

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I went to Gigabyte site to check out what other BIOS revs they made since Dec 2008. I have rev F4. Since then they made 8 more revs ending at F12 dated Jan 2010 and none of these have anything to do with HPA -- at least from their gist of the revs.

 

I strongly recommend a BIOS upgrade, the BIOS changelogs are never complete, they only list the most important changes, if at all, so it's very likely they have added the option to switch off the HPA in the meantime, if it's not already in your BIOS.

 

I have a Gigabyte mobo too and it has that option, I can't check the exact naming as it's in a PC that runs 24/7 and I can't reboot it right now but you should be able to find it.

 

The HPA is normally placed at the end of a disk and about 1MB big, so it's best to leave a couple of MB empty at the end of a disk when partitioning, this avoids any conflicts with the HPA, should it get created accidentally.

 

I still continue to buy Gigabyte mobos, as they are by far the best quality mobos.

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