Setting Up New Machine With Intel Smart Response Technology and Rapid Start Technology

IRST config

Okay I have found another issue that I hope I can help everyone else with should they have the same issue. If you just want the solution and want to skip the story click here..

 

VIDEO SOON

Ahhh A New Laptop

At work we got in these beautiful new Dell XPS 14 Laptops, Dell has finally started to make some nice machines when they came out with the XPS line-up. We have had a lot of people in house comment that they thought it was a Mac Book Pro or Mack Book Air. These new XPS 14 laptops come with a new technology built on board called “Intel Responsiveness Technology” or IRT for short. The point of this technology is to make your system faster by using a small independent mSATA Solid State Drive or a slice of a larger SATA SSD. There are 3 different technologies that apply here:

 

  1. Intel Smart Response Technology (ISRT) – Smart Response is a feature that uses both a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) and a solid state drive (SSD) of greater than 32GB together. It dynamically monitors file, data, and application use, and stores frequently used content on a special partition on the SSD device for faster access. It provides SSD-like read/write performance for the files used most frequently, while providing lower overall storage cost by sorting and storing less frequently accessed content on the larger-sized traditional HDD.
  2. Intel Rapid Start Technology (IRST)- Rapid Start is a feature that provides power savings similar to Windows hibernate state, while improving resume time vs. hibernate by ~2x. Rapid Start may be combined with Smart Response on some systems to enhance overall system performance while also reducing power consumption when not in use.
  3. Intel Smart Connect Technology (ISCT) - Smart Connect is a feature that periodically wakes the system from the Windows sleep state to refresh email or social networking applications. When the system is equipped with specific wireless devices, it can detect the presence of known networks while asleep, waking only when connectivity is available (this feature is called Net Detect). When properly equipped with specific wireless devices, Smart Connect can also provide quick internet connection readiness by keeping wireless devices active in a low-power mode during sleep (this feature is called Quick Connect). Smart Connect may be combined with Rapid Start on some systems to help reduce power consumption while still keeping email and other application data current.

 

Nice reference table of what’s possible depending on your drive:

Disk Type Smart Connect Rapid Start Smart Response
HDD only Not supported Not supported Not supported
HDD + SSD Not supported Supported Supported
HDD + mSATA Not supported Supported Supported
SSD only Supported Supported Not supported (Note: SSD performance achieved without Smart Response)
mSATA only Supported Supported Not supported (Note: SSD performance achieved without Smart Response)
Hybrid Drive Not supported Not supported Not supported (Note: Hybrid Drive is similar in performance to Smart Response)

 

Now this all sounds great right? It’s like a Hybrid drive and it will speed up my system! You are correct this is exactly what it does…. when it’s setup and running correctly! I say this because there seems to be a lot of issues and confusion getting this technology to work. If you need to reinstall your OS, or you need to replace the SSD that holds the special partition for this to work, or if you need to replace the hard drive that is being accelerated it seems to break everything. For me this has resulted in blue screens of death and just random crashes. It seems that once ISRT is setup it does not like it when you change anything to do with the configuration. I found this out the hard way…

 

The Problem

When we received these XPS 14 laptops from Dell, their factory image was just a single C Drive with a recovery partition. If you have read my other posts I like to separate User data and OS data by moving the Users folder to the D drive this simplifies backups for us.  The problem with the Dell image is that there is no D drive and it did not come with media to re-install Windows. The XPS 14 only comes with software that allows you to create a rescue flash drive that is an exact copy of the current image.  To be honest using the Dell stock images are really good. There is not much bloat ware you just need to removed a few piece of software. I decided to just modify the Dell image and work with what I had. The XPS I received came with a 500 GB HDD, to get the desired space for D I needed to re-sized the C drive down to 75 GB and than partition the remaining space for the D drive. This was a simple process using Windows Disk Manager. After I rebooted and logged into my desktop Intel Rapid Start Technology program threw up an error

Your system does not appear to have Intel Rapid Start Technology enabled.

I knew from my limited knowledge of Rapid Start that it must be enable in BIOS so rebooted the machine to look and I did confirm that the option for Rapid Start Technology was greyed out and there was no way to enable it. Very strange all I did was resize my OS drive. Maybe the software had issues after resizing the partition? I tried to re-install the Intel Rapid Start software but got then error

 This computer does not meet the minimum requirements for installing the software.

Well the rabbit hole just keeps getting deeper. Most people would just quit at this point and restore to a previous image. For me this was just another challenge. With that very informative error I had to look up on the internet and do a bit of reading to figure out why I got this error. I found out that Rapid Start is expecting a very particular partition with a certain ID. For some reason this partition was not being seen by the BIOS so that is why the option was greyed out. I also could not re-install the software because the setting in BIOS was disable. What it sounded like was all I needed to to do is re-create this partition and then I could enable it in BIOS again and install the software.

 

Throw Another Wrench in the Cogs

This is where I really started to run into issues, most of the Intel documentation that I read only talked about Rapid Start but not in conjunction with Smart Response, I did read that it was possible (I also knew it was because my laptop came with both working) but could not find a document the explained how to setup both. No matter what I did to setup this Rapid Start partition I could not get it to work so I figure that maybe I should start with Smart Response.

Back to the internet to learn about Smart Response. I found out that I had software installed called “Intel Rapid Storage Manager”. The software showed me information about my SSD and how it was configured to support Smart Response. I could see that there was a 22 GB and a 8GB  partition on the SSD. It also showed that the acceleration of the disk was broken. I tried to disable acceleration and enable acceleration but got the error

 

An error occurred and the selected disk or volume could not be accelerated. Please restart your computer, and then try the operation again.

 

I rebooted my computer and then ran the tool again, when I looked this tool had created a 18.6 GB partition on the SSD and it was all setup other then the acceleration needed to be enable on the HDD. So I selected my 500 GB drive and said accelerate only to get a different error

An unknown error occurred while an operation was in progress. The operation could not be completed.

I kept going in circles trying one thing then trying another. Seeing if different BIOS settings would change anything. I just kept getting the same errors. At this point I even tried to use the Dell USB image to bring the system back to a factory image but the problem still existed. I even called Dell to ask about this issues and got the response “This is a factory only setup, you must return it and we will ship you a new one” That really scared me to think every time I had an issues with the Rapid Start that I would need to return it to Dell. So it really looked like I would need to return the computer or fix the issue.

 

A Spark in the Dark

After some more digging on the internet I did find a post that mentioned that re-sizing your OS partition would fix this problem. There were many posts under suggestion saying “thank you it worked!” I was very hopeful, I opened Disk Manager and shrunk my C drive down by 1 GB but and tried again…. still the same issue, damn… I give up!!! I even started to use a fresh install of Windows 8 using a removable USB DVD drive and media I bought from Dell for the computer after this issue started to see if a fresh install would fix it. I kept looking on the internet for more information. I read every Intel document on it. By the end I felt like I was an expert in something that just would not work!

After almost giving up and sending back every Dell XPS 14 we had in house, telling Dell that they are not business friendly, I decided to play around a little more because I can figure out most things and I didn’t want to be defeated. Instead of doing my typical C drive D drive setup I thought “Lets take a variable out of this equation”.  I re-installed Windows with just a C drive across the entire HDD. Once I re-installed, I tried setting up the Smart Response again with no luck but decided to try the method of re-sizing the drive. What the heck!! it worked!!!! I could now enable acceleration of my drive, I did some playing around and no matter what I did I could not break it from working again, I could destroy the Acceleration settings and set them up again, I could re-size, create new partitions, it would not break. I was on the right path now!!! I did a setup of Windows 8 again but this time made a D partition during the setup and then tried to re-size the C drive, but this time it did not work. After doing some testing I realized that it is not the C drive that you need to re-size but the drive that it touching the end of the disk which in this case was my D drive. I was now able to replicate and fix this issue each time. I am still not sure what re-sizing does to the drive but it must change a bit somewhere that allows the software to do its work. I was then able to create my Rapid Start partition which allowed it to be enabled in BIOS and then I could install the software.. SUCCESS! I decided to post this because I know a lot of other people might want to know the steps I took to fix this on 7 different XPS 14 machines we had in house. I have placed the exact steps I take to fix the issue now.

The Solution

When using Rapid Start and Smart Response there is an exact order that you must follow because installing Smart Response can destroy all the partitions on the SSD.

Preparing the SSD
Lets make sure the SSD is exactly as we want it

  1. Make sure your BIOS is set to “Intel Rapid Response Technology” as the SATA/Disk Operation mode
  2. If you don’t already have the Intel Rapid Storage Technology software installed then you will need to download “SetupRST.exe” software from Intel’s website
  3. Chose the SetupRST.exe download.
  4. Install and run the software, you will have to reboot after the install.
  5. Next we need to check to make sure our SSD is not configured at all in Intel Rapid Storage Manager software
  6. Open the Intel Rapid Storage Manager software and go to the acceleration section and make sure you reset the SSD to available. You should see your entire SSD listed in the diagram on the right top with no partitions. Note, you might not have to do this, the option will only be there if you had a configuration from before.
  7. You will receive an dialog about resetting the cache to available. Just say yes.
  8. Once we know the SSD is clean of any Intel partitions we need to re-initialize it.
  9. Open a command prompt and type “diskpart”
  10. Type “list disk”
  11. Look at the list of disks one of them will be your SSD (You can tell by looking at the size, for me its 32 GB)
  12. You will want to select the disk by its disk number that is to the left.
  13. Type “select disk 1″ (for my case it’s disk 1 for you it could be a different number)
  14. You should get a response that “Disk 1 is now the selected disk”
  15. To verify you have the right disk type “list disk” and you should see a “*” in the left margin beside your SSD to show it is the one that is selected. Make sure you do this to makes sure you have the right disk selected because the next step will wipe the device!!
  16. If you are sure you have the correct disk selected type “clean”
  17. You should receive a message that “DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.”
  18. What this did was make sure the that SSD is set to uninitialized and no partitions exist on it.
  19. You can close DiskPart window
  20. Open Disk Management to initialize the disk. You can open it from Control Panel > Administrative Tools
  21. You should get a popup stating that you need to initialize the disk first before you can use it. If not you can right click on the label for the disk it and chose Initialize Disk.
  22. Make sure you select MRB (Master Boot Record) as the style of partition and click okay.
  23. You should now see your SSD listed in Disk Manager

 

Setting up Smart Response

  1. In Disk Manager right click on the very last partition on the HDD (Not the SSD but the HDD) and chose “Shrink Volume…” from the menu
  2. You can shrink the volume by any size from what I have read but I normally do it by 1 GB.
  3. Seclect “Shrink”
  4. Once you have shrunk the partition you can Right click on it again and chose “Extend Volume”.
  5. You will then use all the space up to extend it to the end of the drive again.
  6. You can then run the Intel Rapid Storage Technology software and go to the “Accelerate” section
  7. click “Enable Acceleration”
  8. In the dialog that comes up it will ask how big you want your Caching memory to be. For me I have a 32 GB SSD and 8 GB of memory so I need 8 GB for my Rapid Start partition so just subtract that from the total size of the SSD to find out how big you can make your Memory Cache. So in my case I made a  custom 21.8 GB partition. Worse case you get it wrong you can come back and play with the numbers to make it right.
  9. I chose maximized mode as I want the best speed form my machine! Make sure you read the warning for your to make sure this is the setting for you! This option is a your choice.
  10. You should then see that your disk is accelerated and everything is marked as working and in good health in the software.

 

Setting up Rapid Start

Now that the Smart Response is up and running we can create our Rapid Start Partition. Intel recommends making this partition the same size or more as the amount of memory that is installed in your computer.  They recommend just making a 8192 GB partition as this will always work for all configurations but you can play to see what works best for you!

  1. Open a command prompt and run “Diskpart”
  2. Type “list disk” you should see a list of disks. Note that your SSD will now show up as a smaller disk as the step before has created a partition for memory cache. Remember the Disk Number that is listed beside it.
  3. Select the disk by typing “select disk 1″ for me it’s disk 1 for you it could be a different number
  4. Verify that you have selected the correct disk by typing “list disk” and you will see an “*” beside the disk you have selected
  5. Now we are going to create the partition type “create partition primary size=8192″
  6. You should see a success message “DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition”
  7. We need to now set the ID of the disk “set id=84 override”
  8. Again you should see a message that  it succeeded, if you get an error “The specified type is not in the correct format.” then this is because when you initialized the disk you did not set it to MBR you set it to “GPT” you will have to go back to the beginning and follow each set and make sure you set it to a MBR when you initialize the SSD.
  9. Once you are done you can reboot your computer for the EFI or BIOS to see the new partition.
  10. You can enter your setup to see that Intel Rapid Start is now enabled. Once you have verified this you can go back into Windows.
  11. Download and install the Rapid Start Software from Intel’s site
  12. You should receive no error now when installing
  13. You are finished!!!!!

 

I would please ask anyone for feedback if this does not work for you or if it does! I found this solution work in every case for me across all the machines we had with this issue. I can get most machines to a point where I cannot break it again! I don’t know why but I will accept the outcome!

 

Signature
© Caspan 2013

  • Fredrik Jonsson

    Excellent description. You just saved me the hassle of a return on day 2 of my new XPS 14!!! To keep math a little simpler I did skip the size option to create the Rapid Start partition that use all remaining space. I think mine failed due to data corruption after a hard reset by my kids, so this time I initialized acceleration in Enhanced Mode instead of Maximized. Thanks again!

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      I am still curious myself what the difference is with using the maximized mode to normal. I guess it’s just like any other RAID where data is not written to the HDD right away bit stays in cache till it gets stale. So you completely opted out of the Rapid Start then? Are you deciding not to use it?

      • Fredrik Jonsson

        Didn’t opt out and I’m using Rapid Start, but I just skipped the math for the size option. Without it it automatically extends to available space. Re: Maximized and Enhanced I read Enhanced is a RAID1/mirror type thus only really accelerating read performance (ref http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1587/5)

        • http://caspan.com Caspan

          I have had some really bad luck here at work with my XPS14 Laptops. I thought that IRST was the issue so i built a brand new Windows 8 machine with a SSD and removed the 32 GB mSATA card. I returned the system to regular BIOS mode. I can get Windows to stay stable until it falls asleep on its own (meaning I didn’t close the lid or force it to sleep) if I wake it up I get the Blue Screen Unhappy Face. It only happens after I do the updates waiting for windows after the install. Very strange!! I am still playing around with it! till i figure out this issue there is no IRST for us!!!

        • http://caspan.com Caspan

          BTW your link got cut off for some reason do you want to repost that reference link?

  • CLUO

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix this acceleration issue for days and stumbled across this. You saved me alot of hassle =)

  • Melchor Celestine

    THANK YOU SO MUCH WORKING 101% NO HASSLE ..

  • Trevin

    hi…I just reinstall the windows…..I tried hard to follow the instruction from the help desk of Dell…I tried every way to setup…but it always show error after I installed the Intel Rapid Storage driver….I have to restore to the image file I made earlier….I nearly gave up to use the latest technology….I actually buy this labtop due to those high technology…….I donno why now I disabled it…

    I setup the Smart Response as the SATA operation mode…and no drive detected in the partition page of window installation. I donno why. and Dell ppl asked me to install the driver of IRST but I failed again and the error said my driver is not certified. crazy….I downloaded both from dell and intel…and all failed…..
    I install the windows for 5 times already…but it seems not really helpful..I read many many webpages as you did….but no one really can help me

    I try to use your solution to set up~~!!

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      This is a tricky one that most people have issues with. In a normal computer your OS can talk directly to your hard drives through the motherboard. This makes the computer very easy to setup and use. In the case of when you set your BIOS to be Smart Response you are turning on a RAID controller now. What you have now is the OS has to talk to the RAID controller then it talks to the hard drive. You have more or less put an extra step in the middle before you can talk to the dive. This is great because it give us unlimited options for redundant disks, caching of data so we make sure its written to disk even in a power failure, etc..

      Problem is Windows has no idea how to talk to about 90% of these RAID controllers. Every company does something a little different so it makes it difficult for Windows to make “Standard Drivers or Generic Drivers” for them. So what manufacturer of RAID controllers do is provide a driver for their controller so that Windows knows how to talk to the RAID controller perfectly. When you install Windows and you do not see one or more of your drives listed it is normally because the OS does not have the proper driver to talk to the RAID controller to see the drives.

      Windows now makes it a lot easier to install the drivers for RAID controllers compared to Windows XP where you were forced to use a floppy or embed them in the CD image. When you get to the point of the Windows installer where it asks you for a location to install Windows, you might see your 32 GB or 64 GB SSD but not your large hard drive. This is because the OS needs the driver to see the hard drives that are run by the RAID controller (see my attached picture)

      You will need to find the drivers for your model (every model is different) if you cannot find it let me know your manufacture and model of laptop and I can help you find it. Once the drivers are installed you will see your drive listed and you can do what you want with it before you install Windows like deleting all the partitions etc.. I went to a single drive setup and deleted all partitions and created just one large C drive (keep in mind if you are using BIOS or UEFI Windows may create a few extra partitions to support it)

      Please let me know if you need any help

  • Oly

    Thank you so much. Your instructions are brilliant.
    You have got me out of deep water. Thanks again !

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      Glad to help!

      • Ivan

        ohh i got a same problem again after you send me email and say that i must download driver for my servise tag and i was done all but same problem what now?

        • http://caspan.com Caspan

          Can you check your BIOS and show me what your BIOS says what drives are there?

  • Rey

    Excellent job putting this manual together. After following your steps, it worked!

  • Joel

    Caspan, enormous thanks. This seems to have got my XPS 14 stable for the first time in ages. I only found one thing confusing in your instructions. On “Setting up Smart Response” step 2 you talk about shrinking the volume “by 1GB” but actually seem to shrink ‘to 1GB’. This would be fine if the last volume on the disk is a D drive but not if it is the C. I shrank ‘by 1GB’ and everything worked great. Thanks again.

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      You are more then welcome…. I am not sure I understand you comment about the C drive D drive re-size comment. This step is trying to say, “What ever your last partition is on the drive (C or D or Z) shrink it down by some amount, I use 1 GB” then extend it back to the end of the drive!

      I am not the best writer to be honest so if you think maybe you can explain it better please feel free to say it so it makes sense and I can update the line :)

  • Arie Nap

    My new Dell Inspiron 14 7000 series with 32GB SSD arrived with only Rapid start enabled on the 32GB SSD.
    The other 22GB of the SSD was allocated as D: drive (storage only).
    This was not the way I liked it, but thanks to your blog entry I was able to enable Smart Response and Rapid Start on the SSD.
    Brilliant and thanks a lot!

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      That is very strange that the only Rapid Start was enabled…. From my discussion with Dell I don’t think they have a clue how to make it work either! Glad you are up and running.

  • Ian

    Thank you so much for posting this. So awesome. I’ve been pulling my hair out all day. Essentially doing everything you did in the first part of your post. You’re a god send. Cheers!

  • Walter

    Awesome!!! But for me I can stop at step 19 and then Rapid Storage starts working without producing the error message.

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      Yes if all you want running is Rapid Storage then yes but if you want rapid start then you will have to do the rest.

  • timme918

    Hi I have an inspiron 14z that came with windows 8 I had rapid storage working then upgraded to 8.1 now can’t get your method to work. I get to the point of shrinking the partition and it won’t give me that option, delete is only available.

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      are you able to post a screenshot? This way i can get a better image of what you are seeing.

  • Earl Foote

    Great tutorial. Unfortunately I still get the error when trying to enable Acceleration. Any other ideas. Lenovo idea pad U310 Touch.

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      Sorry this has been the solution that works when all other solutions fail. If you are still having an issue their might be something else wrong. I would also try re-sizing other partitions. Make sure you always backup first just in case.. Also this is from a fresh install normally, not on an existing install.

      • MissyToby

        Thank you soooo much, Caspan, for saving me all the time and effort I’d not put into solving this, probably, because of my lack of knowledge/patience… your steps worked like a charm for me, although mine was NOT a fresh install, but a cloned disk to upgrade my system disk from 1TB to 2… I was desperate but thankfully, I found this helpfull post… Now I’ll try the rapid start setup, I was curious about that thing but never investigated to put it to work in my machine… thanks again!

      • MissyToby

        By the way, it was not a Dell machine, also! :)

        • http://caspan.com Caspan

          Good to know it also works on other machines other then a Dell. Thank you for the feedback and I am more than happy it helped you!

  • rakesh kumar

    Hi Caspan,
    I appreciate Your effort to come up with this issue. I am also having the same issue on my XPS 14. i just want to make sure these steps applicable only for Dell factory Image? because i am using retail win 8 Pro Installation Image. What should be that SATA mode while installing the OS? it should be AHCI or IRST because when i enable IRST, I was not able to see any Partition while OS installation.

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      Hi Rakesh. Yes this will for sure work with a XPS14 as that is what I use from Dell.

      As for installing the OS when using IRST mode for SATA this is correct you won’t be able to see the drive. This is expected! Have a look at the comment I made to Trevin http://caspan.com/2013/07/setting-up-new-machine-with-intel-smart-response-technology-and-rapid-start-technology/#comment-1046528244 . I explain that you will need drivers so that the Windows installer will see your drive behind the IRST card, you can get these from the dell drivers site for your machine. You will have to do some digging but they are there in one of the Intel downloads. You can then save those files to a flash drive ans use it during the Windows install when it comes to that screen where it cannot see your drive. Let me know if that clears it up. Depending on if you are installing an image you won’t need this but if you are installing from scratch you will need this to see the drive to install Windows.

      If you use AHCI to install and then you turn on IRST mode it will just blue screen because the OS does not know how to talk to the drive. It’s kind of like enrolling in an English school and on the first day every one start talking Spanish… you will Blue Screen :)

      • rakesh kumar

        Hi Caspan,
        Thanks for you reply, I exactly followed your steps and my system works fine now., thanks once again.

  • Yohan Sestrimski

    Thank YOU so much everything is described perfectly and works !!!!

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      Thank you for the feedback…

  • adc111

    I’m only interested in Smart Response, have tried everything from different sites, including all the steps here, and still this stupid software will not give me the option to do anything. No Performance option, no Create RAID option. I was not able to shrink my C: partition (last partition on drive) by more than 80MB due to fragmentation (have 60GB free). So instead I extended the volume by 1GB since I had free space at the end of the disk. Still didn’t work. I went back and shrank the volume by 1GB. Still didn’t work. Tearing my hair out for over 10 hours trying everything!

    • http://caspan.com Caspan

      Okay sounds like me when I first dealt with this issue :) So lets look at a few things first.. Can you go to your BIOS and take me a picture of the mode of your SATA? Is it AHCI is it Intel Rapid Start? Can you take a picture at all?