Patch your ConfigMgr Boot Image for Advanced Format / 512e Drives

Advanced Format (AF or 512e) drives are out there, often fitted randomly from one model to the next.  I won’t go into the technicalities of what they are all about as Google will tell you this, but what I will tell you is that their presence can slow down the deployment rate on an affected system.

Firstly, if you are not sure whether your system is equipped with an AF drive (DELL include bright orange note with the system, HP just seem to sneak them in) then you can download and run the following tool in the OS or in WindowsPE;

http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/555/DriverDetails/DriverFileFormats?c=us&l=en&s=biz&cs=555&DriverId=R306204

The tool will tell you if an AF drive is fitted and also if the partitions are ‘aligned’.

When we use ConfigMgr and WindowsPE boot images to deploy systems with AF drives you may notice quite a slow down, especially in the “Apply Operating System Image” Task Sequence step.  There is a patch to be downloaded from Microsoft that should be installed within a fully patched Windows 7 SP1 OS image AND we must also incorporate this patch into our ConfigMgr boot images;

http://catalog.update.microsoft.com/v7/site/Search.aspx?q=982018

Once you have obtained the x86 and amd64 versions you can follow my guide below on how to update BOTH of your ConfigMgr boot images.  We will do the x86 boot image first and you just need to repeat the process for the amd64 image.

You should have installed the Windows Automated Deployment Toolkit (WAIK).  You can undertake this task on the ConfigMgr server as it will have the WAIK installed.  From your Start Menu, find the Microsoft Windows AIK\Deployment Tools Command Prompt and run as Administrator.

Create the following structure on a drive of your choice with a good few GB free (where X = YourDriveLetter)

X:\WinPE
X:\WinPE\mount
X:\WinPE\patches

Copy both of the downloaded Windows6.1-KB982018-v3-x64.msu and Windows6.1-KB982018-v3-x86.msu to X:\WinPE\patches.  It does not matter that they are together as the patch injection process is clever enough to pick the right one.

Copy the boot.wim file (ignore the boot.xxx12345.wim) from <ConfigMgrInstallDir>\OSD\boot\i386 to X:\WinPE

From the Deployment Tools Command Prompt, run the following commands (replacing X:\ as appropriate);

DISM /Mount-Wim /WimFile:X:\WinPE\boot.wim /MountDir:X:\WinPE\mount /Index:1
DISM /Image:X:\WinPE\mount /Add-Package:X:\WinPE\patches
DISM /Unmount-Wim /MountDir:X:\WinPE\mount /Commit

Rename the existing <ConfigMgrInstallDir>\OSD\boot\i386 .wim file to .old and copy up your replacement boot.wim from X:\WinPE.

From the ConfigMgr Console, Right click the x86 Boot Image and choose to Update Distribution Points.  This will take our new boot.wim and re-integrate the ConfigMgr components, your modifications and drivers and re-send out to the DP’s.

You should also click the “Reload” button on the Images tab of the boot image properties, so that the size changes will be reflected.

The size increases on the boot.wim files you should be looking for, if all went successfully, should be;
i386 boot.wim should increase by approx 10MB
x64 boot.wim should increase by approx 12MB

With a patched WindowsPE boot image, the “Apply Operating System Image” Task Sequence step when ran on an AF drive should speed up considerably.  The speed increases I have observed on an HP Touchsmart system were as follows;

BEFORE: AF Drive non-patched took 28 minutes for the “Apply Operating System Image” step to complete (inc. download)
AFTER: AF Drive patched took 13 minutes for the “Apply Operating System Image” step to complete (inc. download)

So you can see, there are significant time savings to be made with a properly patched WindowsPE boot image on an AF drive equipped system.

Oddly, when an AF equipped drive is partitioned and formatted using the boot images generated by ConfigMgr 2012 the Dell Alignment Tool states that the partitions are aligned correctly – however without the patch the disk performance is still poor.

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About madluka

2 Responses to Patch your ConfigMgr Boot Image for Advanced Format / 512e Drives

  1. couchweight says:

    Thankyou for posting this, I had been searching specifically for these type of directions, despite MS providing instructions, they were a little vague. I have a follow up question, does installing this patch automatically correct the partition alignment on AF drives, I see on a few systems we have with AF drives, the first 300MB partition has a 1026KB offset and the Dell AFHD utility indicates that it’s misaligned, however the second partition indicates it’s aligned. Secondly, I want to work with the original boot.wim, not the one with the drivers located in it? Will this process put all of the drivers that we’ve imported into the boot images?

    • madluka says:

      You’re very welcome. The mis-aligned partition will only be corrected if you are re-partitioning and formatting the disk from within Windows PE – I don’t think there is any ‘fix’ to re-align a mis-aligned existing partition. It is usually only the first partition that shows as mis-aligned, from my experience anyway. With regard to the boot image, yes, absolutely you only want to work with the files called boot.wim and not the boot.xyz000001.wim. When you ask ConfigMgr to inject drivers, add a custom wallpaper or enable F8 for command prompt support it does not alter the original boot.wim – it will create a new file called boot.xyz000001.wim. When you take the original boot.wim files, patch them and put them back into play and then Update your distribution points then ConfigMgr will simply recreate the boot.xyz000001.wim. You do not need to import the new boot.wim file or anything like that, just replace the existing file, reload the image on the boot image properties and Update your DP’s. Hope that helps?

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