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Thread: Why SATA?

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    Why SATA?

    I've got a newly built PC that has mobo connections for up to 4 SATA drives. Can someone point me to an article or the like that explains what SATA is, and why I might want to use it?

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    Re: Why SATA?

    John,
    There is a good article from PC Magazine on SATA drives. CHECK IT OUT
    BOB
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    Re: Why SATA?

    Try googling "SATA vs. IDE". or maybe http://storagereview.com/

    Basically, I think the consensus is that it's probably not going to cause you any great gains in performance fo your average home PC. I've started buying them because I believe in replacing "legacy" technology with new tech when possible. And it felt nice to eliminate an IDE cable and a Molex connection.

    Or, think of it another way. 4 SATA drives means

    Disk 1 - Windows OS
    Disk 2 - Windows swap
    Disk 3&4 - RAID 0 stripe set for data

    Now that has the potential to be pretty fast.

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    Re: Why SATA?

    SATA (and soon) SATA II will be the standards before long - and this is were makers are concentrating R&D money - it only makes sense to go with SATA drives if you are building new or upgrading. They are a little quicker, quieter, and cost about the same. There is no Master or Slave setting to worry about. There's 1 drive per cable so there's no worry about which connector to use. Plus the cables and connectors are much smaller.

    This last point is becoming more significant as CPUs become more powerful. The latest CPUs generate as much heat as a 100 watt light bulb. Having excellent front to back air flow is necessary to ensure your CPU stays cool. The small SATA cables present minimal restriction to that flow. EIDE flat ribbon cables are very effective at blocking that flow. Round IDE cables are readily available and I highly recommend they be used in place of ribbons - for the floppy too. Though slightly bigger than SATA cables, they are still much better than flat ribbons. The SATA connectors are much easier to deal with too.

    As far as RAID - I recommend using RAID1 Mirror over Striped. Mirrored drives provide fault tolerance - that is, if one drive fails, all your data is "current" and safe on the second drive. Plug in a new drive, they sync up and you have an instant back up again. With a 3rd spare drive, you can cycle it into the array once a month and store the exact image off-site in a safe deposit box. In a Striped RAID array, if any drive fails, all data is lost since files are stored across all the drives.

    The disadvantage to Mirror is the drive space is cut in half. That is, two 80Gb drives in RAID1 are seen as one 80Gb drive to the computer. Personally, the data on my computer is much more valuable than the whole computer. Drive space is cheap.

    Some will argue that Striped arrays are much faster. That is not true for most home computers where only 2 drives are used. They are slightly faster for "writes" but "reads" are no better. For most, "reads" are what's important. If you start adding additional drives into a Striped array, THEN the performance advantages become readily apparent. But again, a single drive fails, and all data is gone. And drives do go bad.

    Note - Other factors contribute greatly to my position. (1) The HDs have at least 8Mb buffers - most do these days, but 2Mb, low end drives are still available. (2) The Page File is properly configured and fixed. (3) There is a minimum 512Mb of RAM, 1Gb preferred. (4) Current (P4s and AMD XPs) CPUs with substantial L1 and L2 caches on die.

    It boils down to this; if you will be using your PC for important work or school projects, taxes, family photos, music collection, email, anything that took a long time to create, or anything that would be near impossible to recreate, then you need to decide how much it would cost in lost time and aggravation, if you lost your hard drives. If you are VERY, VERY diligent and self-disciplined at performing frequent backups, or if you are building a game machine of some other purpose machine where you can afford to lose the data, then striped may make sense for you.

    My next PC will have 4 SATA II drives (and a 5th as a spare). They will be configured in RAID 0+1 - to take advantage of both.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
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    Re: Why SATA?

    Bill

    You seem to have covered the advantages of RAID-1 (mirroring) pretty well.

    But RAID-1 for your boot/operating system drive does nothing for you if you have an event which causes the removal of one of the critical operating system files, like, say, the Master Boot Record, which renders your system unbootable. Fine if you have another system which has the same sort of drives, say SATA, and a spare interface cable, and can recover one drive on the other machine. Less fine if you don't!

    Bitter experience makes me commend you having a fifth drive (perhaps an external one?) so you may be able to recover from the conditions which RAID-1 does not cover.

    Moral: if it moves, back it up...

    John
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    Re: Why SATA?

    While your MBR scenario is true, it also applies to RAID0 - and it leads to my suggestion for having a 3rd drive as a backup to the mirrored drives - That, in turn, leads us back to your moral of the story,
    <hr>if it moves, back it up...<hr>
    Actually, I am looking at Network storage devices (basically a hard drive with an Ethernet connection) - 300Gigger will support my 3 critical systems (my two and the wife's) on my home network just fine. And it can be located in a different room. Except for a complete house burn down, it will make a good and no excuse backup system.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
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    Re: Why SATA?

    Bill,

    >> SATA (and soon) SATA II will be the standards before long - and this is were makers are concentrating R&D money - it only makes sense to go with SATA drives if you are building new or upgrading. They are a little quicker, quieter, and cost about the same. <<

    Where are you finding them for the same cost level as IDE drives? The SATA drives I've seen are going for way more than same-sized IDE drives.

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    Re: Why SATA?

    JJ in Detroit wrote
    <hr>Where are you finding them for the same cost level as IDE drives? The SATA drives I've seen are going for way more than same-sized IDE drives.<hr>
    Where have you looked? If you go to any of my favorite sites, you should find all kinds of SATA drives at reasonable prices.

    These are my favorite on-line sites.

    ZipZoomFly
    NewEgg
    MWave

    Zipzoomfly has 200GB IDE for $109.99 and 200GB SATA for $114.99

    Newegg offers on this page 80Gb Western Digital Carviar SE drives in both IDE and SATA with the Serial drive costing $3 LESS at $56 than the IDE equivalent.

    MWave offers MAXTOR 300GB 6L300S0 SATA150 7200RPM 16MB HDD for $189 and MAXTOR 300GB 6B300RO UATA-133 PATA 16MB 7200RPM for $179

    CompUSA charges about $20 more for the SATA 200Gb WD version.
    Bestbuy charges only $10 more for the Maxtor 120 SATA.
    Bill (AFE7Ret)
    Freedom is NOT Free!
    Heat is the bane of all electronics!

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