Boot from one drive, and run Windows from another

  1.    10 Aug 2018 #1

    Boot from one drive, and run Windows from another


    So... I have an old HP Z600 workstation which is pretty awesome with dual Xeons and 48GB of ECC ram. My problem is that storage speed is a huge bottleneck. Due to its age the motherboard and BIOS only support SATA II (3 GB/s) which limits the speed of a SSD. I found a Marvel SATA III PCIe controller which works, but the BIOS will only allocate one lane, so it's still limited to about 4 GB/s. I have the latest BIOS and the BIOS is encrypted so none of the 3rd party BIOS hackers have had any success at updating it and adding new functionality.

    So... I took a chance and bought a Samsung 970 NVMe M2 drive and a PCIe adapter knowing that I would probably not be able to boot from it, and I was correct. Once Windows starts and loads its own NVMe driver though, it recognizes the drive just fine. And WOW is it A LOT faster. (A minimum of 4 times faster, up to 10 times, depending on which benchmark you look at.)

    So... The machine also includes a couple of WD HDDs which are plugged into the motherboard's SATA II ports. I was hoping to find a way to get the machine to start its boot from a HDD, load the bare minimum necessary to recognize the NVMe drive, then switch over and finish booting, and more importantly, run Windows from the NVMe drive.

    Is this do-able? Could someone perhaps give me a summary of how it might be accomplished and steer me towards some documentation with the details?
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    10 Aug 2018 #2

    Yeah it should be. You really should only need the boot manager to be on the drive that your system can boot from. Then just create a copy of the boot loader entry and change the device and osdevice parameters to point to the second drive in the form partition=\Device\HarddiskVolume2 replacing the 2 with the partition that the OS is on. The HarddiskVolume# encompasses all your drives and starts at 1. So say you have two disks. The first disk has four partitions and the second disk as two partitions. Lets say your OS is on the first partition on the second disk then your path would be \Device\HarddiskVolume5
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    11 Aug 2018 #3

    Hi there
    I think the only way to do this is to have your Windows as a VHD (Virtual Disk Drive) and get the boot loader to attach / mount the VHD drive and run windows.

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/win...d--native-boot

    Windows run "naitively" has to run from the same HDD / SSD it was booted from. The VHD method though means you can attach from a different drive -- not a storage space, spanned drive or a networked drive though.

    Cheers
    jimbo
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    11 Aug 2018 #4

    jimbo45 said: View Post
    Windows run "naitively" has to run from the same HDD / SSD it was booted from. The VHD method though means you can attach from a different drive -- not a storage space, spanned drive or a networked drive though.

    Cheers
    jimbo
    That's not true at all. Think of all the threads on this forum where people have mistakenly installed Windows with two drives attached and their boot files (System Reserved or EFI System partition) ends up on one drive, and the Windows OS partition ends up on a different drive.

    The problem here is going to be loading the driver for the NVMe interface from the system partition at boot time so the bootloader can use it to access the NVMe drive to load Windows from. I'm pretty sure it can be done, I'm just don't know how.

    It's like when you do a clean install and one of the first screens tells you that you need to insert a driver disk...but I've never had a computer that required it.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5.    11 Aug 2018 #5

    NavyLCDR said: View Post
    The problem here is going to be loading the driver for the NVMe interface from the system partition at boot time so the bootloader can use it to access the NVMe drive to load Windows from. I'm pretty sure it can be done, I'm just don't know how.
    This is just what I was thinking. Similar to what you must do for a RAID/SCSI controller. I just don't know how either.

    So far I've put a clone of the "System Reserved" partition at the beginning of the first hard disk (on first SATA port on motherboard) and set it to primary and active. I'm thinking next I need to edit boot.ini or bcd.ini and and change the main etnry for the third drive, second partition (Because there are 2 HDDs on the MB SATAs which get enumerated before the NVMe, and because the NVMe drive also has a system reserved partition, thus Windows is on the second partition of that drive). EasyBCD apparently won't allow that, so I've got to do some research and learn again how/where to manually edit the ini file. But even once I get that edited, how do I get it to load the NVMe driver?

    Ideas anyone?
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  6.    12 Aug 2018 #6

    NavyLCDR said: View Post
    The problem here is going to be loading the driver for the NVMe interface from the system partition at boot time so the bootloader can use it to access the NVMe drive to load Windows from.
    So after much googling and looking thru Microsoft documentation, it would seem that what I need is a "boot-start driver" for the NVMe. But I cannot find such a driver for NVMe. Possibly no-one has written one because no-one felt the need, or perhaps it may be technically impossible because NVMe apparently depends on EUFI.

    What I have found is a software 'thingy' (not sure how to classify it) named Duet from TianoCore which gets installed on the boot partition, and the BIOS boots Duet, which adds EUFI functionality on top of the BIOS which allows, amongst other things, NVMe boot support. Which, according to this guide and this one will do exactly what I want.

    It sounds somewhat complicated to install and the instructions could be better. I won't have a chance to try it until next weekend. I will definitely report back here though with my findings. In the meantime though, I am still open to other suggestions and solutions.

    Oh, and another solution is that the old Samsung 950 Pro drives include an option ROM which adds support for NVMe to the BIOS at startup. Unfortunately, the newer 960 and 970 models no longer include the ROM, nor do any others I can find, nor do any PCIe adapter cards. And used 950 Pros are selling for exorbitant prices, apparently for this very reason.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


 

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