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Thread: ATA vs DMA

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    ATA vs DMA

    What is the performance difference in an ATA drive vs a DMA drive? Also, what is different about the innerworkings of each?

    Thanks,

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    Re: ATA vs DMA

    ATA and DMA refer to slightly different things. Most computer components have DMA capability these days, which is the ability to talk to memory directly instead of going through the system bus and slowing things a bit. DMA is a heck of a lot faster than PIO, which was a hard drive technology for the control and transfer of data.

    ATA is the transfer method between the hard drive and the mainboard. ATA is intended to be backwards compatible (and it is), the ATA numbers have been increasing lately - I don't know what the current revision is (5, maybe 6?) but each descriibes the bandwidth or speed that data can be transferred from the drive to the main system.

    The current rage/flavor is ATA 133, which means simply that 133 MB/second can transfer in burst. It's not a sustained full-on process. ATA-100 was before that, and it works down from there.

    No difference in the inner workings of the drives - they're all pretty similar. It's how they play with other pieces that makes them different. You may also hear "Ultra" ATA, UDMA, and some interlocking terms. In the end, not much difference between all IDE hard drives on the market.
    -Mark

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    Re: ATA vs DMA

    Thanks Mark. I am thinking a reasonably priced 7200 rpm 60 gig ATA100 drive would suffice then.

    A question on another topic; have been reading as of late in regards to the .13 micron P4 w/512k cache. Most of the other processors I see have a 256k cache. Found a P4 1.8 gig w/512k cache for around $180 with heatsink and fan. Is there a huge difference between performance in regards to the cache size? If a 256k cache was a one on a scale of one to ten, what would you rate a 512k cache (all other things being equal)?

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    Re: ATA vs DMA

    Funny that you would think a reasonably priced 60GB hard drive running at 200 RPM would suffice....because I bought on of those not too long ago! They're great. The speed difference between 5400 and 7200 RPM drive is noticeable so make sure you get the right one.

    The question with cache is answered by another question: if it's L1 cache, more is always better. The reason is that it runs at the full speed of the processor and it will make a big impact on system performance. I'd rate a 512K cache exactly double what I would a 256K cache. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

    256K cache is great. 512 is better. But don't make that the central point of your search. I have a P4 1.7GHz machine at the office, and I can't see any real difference between it and my Athlon 1.2GHz at home. They both have 256K L1 cache, and the performance is nearly identical, processor speeds notwithstanding.

    Last thing to consider: chips made with a .13 process will run cooler and consume less power than those made with a larger fab (such as a .17 chip). If the cost is similar between say, a 1.7GHz processor with 512K L1 cache and a 2.4GHz with 256K L1, I'd go with the slower processor for its higher cache.
    -Mark

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    Re: ATA vs DMA

    Thanks, considering I am moving from a Celeron 533 HP with a who-knows-what motherboard and a 10.2g drive, I am sure I will be astounded at the difference!

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