Starting on May 10th of 2011, Dell began shipping some configurations of Enterprise Client systems (Latitude, Optiplex, Precision) with Advanced Format (AF) hard drives. This page will provide general information, deployment scenario recommendations, and a discussion thread (bottom of the page) on deploying Dell systems with AF drives.Another Tech Tuesday Chat discussing AF drives is scheduled for July 19th. Read the transcript from the Tech Tuesday Chat on May 3rd, 2011.
The goal of Advanced Format readiness is to have your deployment process support both existing hard drives and Advanced Format drives without having to have separate processes for a specific drive type. The steps below will guide you through the process of modifying your deployment process to achieve the goal. 1. Acquire an Advanced Format Hard Disk Drive (AFHDD) for testing
2. Modify your disk configuration process to support Advanced Format Hard Disk Drives
3. Include AFHDD support in the Windows Operating System (OS) image to be deployed.
4. Test your deployment processNow that you have your disk configuration and OS ready for AFHDD's, do a test deployment onto your test AF drive. You will want to check for the following:
5. Audit and Remediate systems with Advanced Format Hard Disk DrivesSince most environments will contain standard and Advanced Format drives for quite some time it is imperitive to be able to know what systems have AFHDD's and be able to verify their partition alignment.
Configuration Manager 2007 OSD - Testing with the Dell IT staff on AF drives shows that a current ConfigMgr2007/WinPE3.0 infrastructure delivers systems (Windows 7 and XP) that have mis-aligned partitions (offset of 1026KB) on AF drives. Patching WinPE3.0 produces a correct offset of 1024KB on AF drives for both Windows 7 and XP. Windows 7 still requires the patch or SP1 to address the perfomance issues related to using AF drives. Note: The updated KB982018 patch (version 3) applies to SP1 also.If you are using the Dell Driver CABs you can check the details page for each of the cabs to see if they contain the correct Intel mass storage driver required to support AF drives (9.6 or higher) Hard Drive Encryption - If you encrypt your drives, you will have to be extra careful in your deployment processes. Specifically, you need to ensure that your drives are aligned BEFORE encrypting them. Using an alignment tool after encryption will cause data loss. Also, ensure that your encryption vendor has certified their product on AF drives.
Q: How do I tell the difference between an AF drive and 512B drive when looking at the label on the drive?A: Hard Drive manufacturers will be putting the AF logo on AF drives, but some stock may have shipped without logos. If it doesn't have a logo, you will have 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.Q: Is there an easy way (WMI data, script, etc.) to detect if a system has an AF drive?A: Yes. The Dell Advanced Format Detection Tool is the easiest way to identify AF drives. It also provides partition alignment status in the output and can be easily included in a script.Windows 7 SP1 can also identify AF drives if patched with the v3 version of KB982018 which includes an update to FSUtil.exe. Below is the output from running "fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo c:" on a standard 512B drive. You will see in the highlighted area that "bytes per physical sector" is 512.Here's the output for the same command on an AF drive. You will see in the highlighted area that "bytes per physical sector" is listed as 4096.Also, for Intel systems, you can install the Rapid Storage Technology utility and it will show you the physical and logical sector sizes in the GUI. Q: Is there an easy way (WMI data, script, etc.) to detect if an AF drive is aligned?A: Yes, you can detect alignment on a drive with these VBscript or PowerShell scripts, but you won't know if it is an AF or standard 512B drive so you may get some false positives when targeting existing systems. Using the output of the Dell Advanced Format Detection Tool, you can check alignment with a script in addition to identifying AF drives in your environment.Q: Do I need to use an alignment tool on every system with an AF drive?A: If you have verified that your deployment process is aligning AF drives, then you do not need to use an alignment tool.Q: Do I need to incorporate an alignment tool into my deployment process?A: It is recommended that you do not incorporate an alignment tool into your deployment process. You should be able to deploy systems with AF drives that are aligned without an alignment tool if you have met the criteria required (see links above).
Q: How is Dell notifying customers that a new system may contain an AF drive?A: A flyer with the above information is being inserted into the shipping boxes of new Enterprise Client systems that are capable of having an AF drive. Note: The flyer is not an indicator that the system DOES contain an AF Drive.