Tag Archive for Intel

The trick to the sound driver with Win8.1 on a Macbook Pro

I took the opportunity to upgrade my work laptop over the long weekend here in Sydney. The early 2011 13″ Macbook Pro has worked well for me so far, however there are times when the machine is feeling its age – namely on boot and any point where a reasonable amount of disk I/O is required. Since we had one lying around after a change to an internal project, I took the opportunity to pull out the original 320GB hard disk and slipped an 240GB Intel 530 SSD into it instead, and decided to run a fresh install of Windows 8.1 instead of my previous Windows 7 operating system.

The surgery went fine, SSD in and the machine booted fine afterwards. My issue came shortly after the install of Win8.1 – no sound.

Now as a bit of a backstory, I decided that I was going to forgo the standard Bootcamp method of install and save myself the few gigabytes. If I need OSX for updates and firmware upgrades, I can just option-boot the laptop from a USB key. So I decided I would install directly to the hardware without OSX and Bootcamp, and just use the Bootcamp support pack to install the required drivers.

Because USB-key installs are what I do these days, I prepared the Win8.1 Pro ISO and made a bootable USB key. I then inserted it into the MBP, booted it and went through the install process. The install went fine, and then I added a second USB key with most of the required software to get it up and running – 7-Zip, the Apple Bootcamp 5.1 support pack, plus a few other small utilities. I installed 7-Zip, then unzipped the Bootcamp support pack, and ran the installer. All went fine, rebooted and started adding WiFi settings…. hang on. No sound device installed.

A check of the Device Manager shows a ‘High Definition Audio Device’, with a driver reporting as installed, however the device properties show:

This device cannot start. (Code 10)

{Operation Failed}

The requested operation was unsuccessful.

After looking around online, there seems to be much weeping and gnashing of teeth over the issue. Microsoft have a KB article for the problem, and many people are experiencing this directly via a Bootcamp install as well which seems like a major bug to me.

After reviewing all these posts and trying all the various ‘driver fixes’ such as Cirrus Logic drivers, Intel HD4000 drivers, and even various Realtek drivers, I appeared to be getting nowhere. After swallowing my pride and starting the download of Win7 Pro, I noticed one of the posts mentioned that booting to install via a USB key gives an EFI install rather than a legacy BIOS install, and that installation from optical media gives you a legacy install which then supposedly works.

After a quick burn of the Win8 ISO and install, I went through the process again, but no worky-worky. Same problem.

As the Win7 ISO download completed and was burning to another DVD-R, I was pontificating on the fact I was about to go back on my plan and remain in a Windows 7 world, then a thought hit me.

Windows 8 install media have an EFI boot partition on them!

This time, I went for the option-boot of the machine, which gave me choice of two optical boot images – an EFI-enabled one, and one simply marked ‘Windows’. I chose that, removed all the old partitions on the SSD from the failed installs and let everything run through. This time, the sound driver took and I had audio!

It appears that when direct-booting the Win8/8.1 media, the EFI-enabled Macbook Pro prefers the EFI-enabled boot partition on the optical disk and in fact gives you an EFI-based install no matter what. The only way is to option-boot the media onto the standard Windows partition and install from that instead.

I hope this helps someone, I lost a whole 24 hours of a long weekend to what is just an annoying bug. Now, hopefully the optical bay converter arrives in the next week so I can get a 500GB Western Digital Black HDD into it, then we start looking at 8GB or 16GB of RAM to really make it fly.

HP lists G8 Microservers on website

Thanks to sorted who spotted the Microserver G8’s are listed on the HP website. The two models are listed at USD$449 and USD$529 respectively on the HP website, a bit cheaper than what was expected.

MicroServer Gen8 G1610T – USD$449

Processor family
Processor:     Intel® Celeron® G1610T (2 core, 2.3 GHz, 2MB, 35W)
Number of processors:     1
Processor cores:     2

Memory
Standard memory:     2GB (1x2GB) UDIMM
Maximum memory:     16GB
Memory slots:     2 DIMM slots
Memory protection:     Unbuffered ECC

I/O
Expansion slots:     (1) PCIe
For detail descriptions reference the QuickSpec
Network controller:     1Gb 332i Ethernet Adapter 2 Ports per controller

Hard drives
Storage controller:     (1) Dynamic Smart Array B120i/ZM

Power supply
Power supply:     (1) 150W non-hot plug, non redundant power supply kit Multi-output

Rack height
Rack height:     MicroServer

MicroServer Gen8 G2020T – USD$529

Processor family
Processor:     Intel® Pentium® G2020T (2 core, 2.5 GHz, 3MB, 35W)
Number of processors:     1
Processor cores:     2

Memory
Standard memory:     2GB (1x2GB) UDIMM
Maximum memory:     16GB
Memory slots:     2 DIMM slots
Memory protection:     Unbuffered ECC

I/O
Expansion slots:     (1) PCIe
For detail descriptions reference the QuickSpec
Network controller:     1Gb 332i Ethernet Adapter 2 Ports per controller

Hard drives
Storage controller:     (1) Dynamic Smart Array B120i/ZM

Power supply
Power supply:     (1) 150W non-hot plug, non redundant power supply kit Multi-output

Rack height
Rack height:     MicroServer

 

HP Proliant G8 Microservers leaked

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Respected home networking blog ServeTheHome has leaked the upcoming specs of the new HP Microservers, of which the G7 Models (N36L, N40L, N54L) have all been wildly successful amongst the tech crowd for their low price, high flexibility and miserly power usage. Many people used them as a home-built NAS when loaded with FreeNAS, others like myself use them as a home ESXi lab for learning. They also made a good XMBC box for media playing, streaming and recording.

When they could be picked up at some points well under AUD$200, it’s no wonder the tech community embraced them. There was even a HP Microservers Facebook page set up for them! Online forums like OCAU, HardOCP and others have threads on the G7’s stretching into multiple thousands of posts.

The G8 Microservers differ from the G7 models in many respects, firstly the aging AMD Turion dual-core CPUs have been replaced with newer Intel chips along with the Intel C204 ‘Cougar Point’ chipset. You have a choice of the Celeron G530T or the Pentium G630T. The Celeron clocks two cores at 2.0Ghz with 2MB cache to get an average CPU Passmark of 1604, while the G630T also sports two cores at 2.3Ghz, but increases the cache to 3MB. This boost takes the G630T to an average CPU Passmark of 2154 which is well over double the N40L’s 979 Passmark.

One of the biggest issues with the G7 Microserver was memory support. While it sported ECC non-Registered RAM and could also take standard DDR3 memory, officially it only supported 8GB. While some in the Microserver Community were able to get them running with 16GB of RAM, DIMM compatibility was crucial to the success of booting the hardware with 16GB. The G8’s will support ECC memory again, but at this stage we do not have any information on the maximum memory support. We expect 16GB at a minimum, but 32GB may be possible. Any of the ECC memory that G7 owners used in their older hardware should be transferable to the new hardware – great news!

Another major boost is the inclusion of HP’s iLO4 hardware management which is usually included on their higher-end Proliant Servers. The G7 lacked this feature, although had a proprietary slot for a RAC (Remote Access Card) which gave similar functionality. The NIC’s have also been upgraded to Dual Broadcom-based ports and the iLO port is a separate, dedicated port unlike the ML310e G8 which requires a optional mezzanine card for a separate port.

HP’s B120i RAID solution also features in the G8 Microserver, a far cry from the AMD RAIDXpert chip on the G7. This is also fitted to the higher end Proliant offerings like the ML310e G8 and gives ESXi support out of the box, something the AMD solution did not. There is no real information what RAID levels this will support for now, but we know it can do RAID levels 0, 1 and 10 out of the box, and if fitted with 512MB of cache it can do RAID5 also however that may require a HP SmartArray Advanced software key. Until we get more information, we cannot really tell what the hardware will support.

There’s also 2x SATA3 (6Gbps) ports on the Microserver, perfect for a couple of SSD’s to be added. The pictures we have found of it also show a slim optical drive, although it is likely that the internals will be much tighter so finding a place to put them or other mechanical drives may be a problem. I have a feeling you will not be able to stuff an extra 3x 3.5″ drives into it like some people were able to do with the G7 chassis. Hopefully there will be a couple of mounts for 2.5″ drives in there somewhere.

USB ports have been a major talking point in the community, and USB3 ports have been high on the wishlist of many. The Intel C204 chipset supports 6x USB2 ports, although the leaked specs say 7. There is a possibility of a USB3 controller chip but I would not hold my breath for it.

g8-Microserver

HP has also given us the new G8 styling, bringing the look of the unit into what many would call style. The G7’s flat black look was sufficient and was able to be hidden away reasonably well, but the G8’s look so good that you will want to show them off!

I am really looking forward to these being released. My ESXi boxes are really struggling with disk writes as the CPU is reasonably slow. A 4-spindle RAID5 array off a P410 card simply does not see the performance it would in a reasonable desktop CPU.  RAM being capped at 8GB is another issue, it really limits the amount of VM’s you can have, especially if you cannot get 16GB to work on your G7 Microserver. They should also be compatible out of the box with HP’s ESXi Custom Image which already has all the drivers for the G8 Broadcom NICs and B120i controllers.

Of course price will be the issue and I think we will see the retail price on these to be $499 for the G530T and $599 for the G630T to begin with. The N54L’s will be run out with rebates in the near future, You should be able to pick them up for about $180 very soon, even though the current price hovers at about $269. Keep an eye on StaticIce for the special deals.

HP-ProLiant-Microserver-Gen8-Specs-600x388

 

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