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Thread: SATA or ATA

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    SATA or ATA

    I am close to upgrading the disk system on my PC and I have a pretty good motherboard, the Gigabyte 8KNXP (apparently it came top in some poll or other) which has sATA, sATA RAID, ATA and ATA RAID.

    So I've decided to upgrade my disks to an array (it's currently running a single 120Gb ATA/8Mb cache drive which I plan to put in my server). The first question is just how much difference does that 8Mb cache make compared to the 2Mb type (bearing in mind they will be in an array), the second is can I mix disks (same size, different cache) on an array and what will that do performance-wise (I suspect they will lose any cache advantage).

    The third question involves sATA architecture ... sATA RAID is a bit strange in that it has Southbridge & Northbridge components. It appears I CAN have four discs in sATA arrays but I can't have a single array as each bridge supports only 2 disks and only one of which can boot. OTOH sATA is faster at 150Mb/sec. Standard ATA RAID only runs at 133Mb/sec BUT the array can consist of a fully bootable 4 disk set. Now, since a standard RAID 0 stripe is supposed to be faster would 2 x 150Mb/sec sATA drives be faster than 4 x 133Mb sec ATA drives?

    Phew!

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    Re: SATA or ATA

    Hmmn, that's a complex set of questions you've asked here. Let me try to sort them out as best I can.

    Regarding the cache, more is always better. The difference between 2 and 8MB cache is small, but noticeable.

    Regarding mixing drive types, if you put these disks into an array and mix cache sizes, you will lose some advantage of the larger cache size. The speed increase from the array will likely negate that to some degree, so it would not be as noticeable. Ideally the disks would be identical in such a configuration in order to reap maximum benefit. I would be strongly inclined to avoid the mixing if at all possible; I think it would decrease the reliability of a RAID setup.

    Finally, the performance difference between the current SATA crop and ATA drives is minimal. A RAID 0 stripe may be marginally faster, but if you lose one disk in the array, you lose everything - there is no redundancy and no protection of data. If your are not going to work with at least RAID 1, then there really is not that much point in setting it up at all, unless every last drop of performance is what you seek to gain.
    -Mark

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    Re: SATA or ATA

    I suppose the basic question is: What are you going to be running on your machine that needs top-notch disk performance?

    If you really need that, you want to be looking at the much more expensive SCSI disks, presumably with a SCSI controller card, since your motherboard probably doesn't support this natively.

    There was something about sATA vs. ATA disks in this month's "Personal Computer World" (currently at home, of course!). Will look it up tonight. The most important thing *I* noted about sATA drives was that the cables are much thinner (
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

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    Blimey!

    Those replies were quick!

    OK ... so 8Mb cache is better.

    What I am after is performance on a budget I suppose ... I'm aware that SCSI (I used to be a big SCSI fan) is better but the budget aspect takes it right out of the equation as far as I'm concerned.

    Redundancy isn't really an issue as my most important data is stored on a server and that is backed up on DLT (monthly full with weekly differential) so performance is by far the key consideration. I can't really afford the latest 10K disks either.

    The weird thing is that even though I don't store much stuff on my system the price of ATA disks is so low that the most cost effective drive is probably an 80Gb meaning my system will have an insane 320Gb on it! Sure I could try RAID 5 which offers some redundancy but I don't really need it.

    Thanks for the replies so far guys.

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    Re: Blimey!

    > Redundancy isn't really an issue as my most important data is stored on a server

    Maybe, but how much time is it going to take you to rebuild your boot disk, reinstall Windows (probably) then restore back all your "stuff"?

    With RAID-1, you can (probably) just carry on with the disk that hasn't failed, and replace the failed disk and rebuild the RAID array at your (comparative) leisure...

    Worked for me! (But your kilometerage may vary, as they say...)

    John
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

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    Re: SATA or ATA

    8MBytes of cache is better than 2MBytes of cache only if everything else is equal. One of the differences between different disk drive vendors is the quality of the algorithms that control the caches. I have seen application software that runs faster on a disk with smaller cache because the cache algorithms suited the data access patterns of that software.

    If you really care about the last few percent of performance from a particular application then you must run performance tests with your application. Otherwise I would worry about disk spindle speed - which makes a big difference - but not about cache size.

    StuartR

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    Re: Blimey!

    I suggest you trundle along to WHSmith (or your local newsagent) and observe this month's Personal Computer World (May 2004), pages 64 to 66, which has a "mini round-up" of nine ATA and Sata drives. It's not the sort of article I can easily summarise!
    <font face="Script MT Bold"><font color=blue><big><big>John</big></big></font color=blue></font face=script>

    Ita, esto, quidcumque...

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    Thanks Everyone ...

    ... I will get PCW and observe the recommendations made by others above :-)

    Your help is mucho appreciato :-)

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