Mods & Upgrades
I’ve had a Sony Vaio Z11 V/N for about 16 months, having upgraded from a Vaio TZ which was my daily workhorse for over a year beforehand. They’re fairly sturdy, well made, with great technology inside, and everything. just. works.
However, one bugbear of mine, which I’ve had ever since buying the Z11, is the lack of support in the BIOS for the virtualization which the Intel Core Duo processor installed in my Vaio offers. I’m not the only one! A quick search will find lots of posts going back since the day of launch complaining about this feature lack. Its also angered some users enough to try and hack the BIOS (of which they did a good job on, but its rather technical and not for the masses).
Today, whilst I was looking for drivers for my newly-upgraded Windows 7 OS, I was on the Vaio site, and stumbled across this BIOS upgrade page, proclaiming that as of the 14th October 2009, a BIOS upgrade was available that allowed you to switch on VT Support. Wohooo!
Why is this important? Well, I’m a developer (working primarily on the LAMP platform), and a tinkerer, and I run various other OS’s in a Virtualised Environment through VMWare. Virtualization support allows me to run the virtualised OS at full performance. In addition, Windows 7 now provides backward compatibility with XP programs through a virtualized XP environment, but requires VT support in order to do so.
There’s also the fact that now I have my hardware doing exactly what its supposed to – not being feature locked any longer by a poor Sony implementation.
However, that said, Kudos to Sony for finally getting this feature live – the question is – why did it take so long?
Having recently installed a Sky HD box at home (Amstrad model number DRX780UK), I quickly decided that the default hard drive that comes with the box (320Gb, with 160Gb devoted to Sky Anytime) was far too small for the household viewing habits, especially when recording HD programming which eats up Hard Drive space like no tomorrow.
Therefore, I decided to upgrade it to 1TB, which should be more than adequate for our households’ recorded viewing needs.
The box uses a SATA interface, therefore any low power HDD model should suffice (though I take no responsibility if you follow this guide and it doesn’t work). I used a Western Digital HD103UJ (1000GB/7,200 RPM) and it worked without problem.
Here’s a guide detailing what to do, should you wish to do the same.
Note: There are no warranty stickers to peel off / break through, therefore if the box dies you could (in theory) replace the HDD with the original, and then call Sky to sort it out.
What you’ll need:
- Philips Head Screwdriver
- Replacement Hard Drive
- A PC with a spare SATA header and free disc space
Dismantle The Box
So, to start, unplug the box, and look at the back of it. You’ll see a single screw in the middle top, which holds the cover onto the back. Unscrew this.
Turn the box upside down. Within the outer black strip (for the cover), there are 6 recessed holes, with screws at the bottom of the holes. Remove all of these.
To take the cover off, you need to lift up the three tabs towards the front of the box and pull the cover forward slightly away from the box. As you can see in the picture, I’ve placed some knives and a screwdriver under the tabs to lift them away from the retaining bumps.
With the tabs clear of the bumps, you are now free to pull the box out of the cover. Turn the box over and this. You may find it a little easier if you also pull the two sides of the cover away from the box slightly as you pull.
With the cover removed from the box, you’ll see a controller daughterboard on top, a circuitboard on the front which holds the indicators and other controls, and three screws on the left hand side of the box.
Remove these three screws first, and then turn your attention to the daughterboard. This is held in place by four screws, and has a ribbon cable linking it to the circuit board at the front of the box. Remove these screws, and move the daughterboard so its hanging by the cable over the front of the front circuitboard.
You can now lift the metal cover off of the top of the box, exposing the motherboard, power supply, and hard drive in the bracket.
Swapping the Hard Drive
Unplug the red SATA cable and the power cable with four wires from the hard drive.
Remove the screw at the right back of the bracket which holds the hard drive bracket to the motherboard.
Then remove the screw at the front right of the hard drive bracket.
You can then pull the hard drive up and away from the case.
Remove the three screws on the side of the bracket which hold it to the hard drive.
Remove the foam triangle from the top of the hard drive.
Plug the removed drive into your PC and boot up. You’ll need to use Sky Copy+ to clone the old drive onto your new hard drive. I recommend you follow these instructions. I would use suggest you do not copy the Sky Anytime files, as this process can take a long time; even longer if you include the Anytime programming.
Once finished, reverse the process listed above, starting with attaching the all-important foam triangle!
The Sky box will always reserve 140GB for the Anytime programming, but the rest of the hard drive space is yours for recording purposes.