Does nForce2 chipset provide performance advantage for SATA drives?

Discussion in 'Asus' started by Ed T Wilson, Jun 27, 2003.

  1. Ed T Wilson

    Ed T Wilson Guest

    A colleague of mine has advised that the current state-of-the-art
    chipsets supporting AMD XP processors will not provide any performance
    advantage over a UDMA 133 IDE hard drive. Hence, buying a SATA hard
    drive for my A7N8X would be a waste of money. Is that correct?
    Thanks for the help.
     
    Ed T Wilson, Jun 27, 2003
    #1
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  2. Ed T Wilson

    S.Heenan Guest

    In general, the SATA interface provides few benefits over the PATA-100/133
    interface. The one exception is the 10,000 RPM Western Digital 8MB SATA
    36.7GB "Raptor" harddrive. If you're in the market for a new hard drive, it
    may be worth a look.
     
    S.Heenan, Jun 27, 2003
    #2
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  3. Ed T Wilson

    Paul Guest

    The current state of affairs has less to do with the AMD versus Intel
    thing, than it has to do with bus architecture. A PC has a series of
    busses chained together, each one tuned to the needs of the peripherals
    that are connected to it. The fastest bus is the one between the
    Processor and the Northbridge, and is capable of tremendous bandwidth.
    Depending on the generation of chipset, the bus between the Northbridge
    and Southbridge is slower, and generally has enough bandwidth to handle
    the bridge to PCI bus on the Southbridge (older chipsets use PCI
    starting from the Northbridge, and the Southbridge is just another
    peripheral - that is the older way of doing it).

    We still live in an era, where for the most part, onboard peripherals
    that have I/O connectors on the back of the computer, are connected
    to the PCI bus. PCI busses come in several speeds, and for desktop
    systems, PCI is still 32 bits bus width, with a maximum (theoretical)
    bus bandwidth of 133MB/sec. A reasonable real world bandwidth figure
    for PCI is 100MB/sec (bus mastering, fairly small burst size, in order
    to allow sharing of the bus without causing another card to be starved).

    Now, look at SATA. The cable used on SATA transfers data at 150MB/sec.
    Sounds like a great deal, a little faster than the best PATA can do.

    The current generation of disk drives use a bridging chip, to convert
    from PATA on the disk drive controller board, to the SATA serial way
    of doing things. I think a review I read mentioned that some of the
    bridge chips are limited to ATA100 parallel rates, so that is a
    limitation at the disk end. Eventually, there will be SATA native
    controllers on disk drives, in which case the bridge chip will
    disappear, and more of the potential of the SATA cable can be used.
    Whether it is in the best interest of the disk drive manufacturer,
    to make it work at the full 150MB/sec max rate, is something we'll
    know when native drives become available. This rate is only useful
    for bursting data into the disk drive cache, as the sustained media
    rates are still well below the 150MB/sec figure.

    At the other end of things, we have the SATA controller on the
    motherboard. If your board has a SIL3112 controller, it is connected
    to the PCI bus, so the controller itself is limited to the approx
    100MB/sec max transfer rate across PCI. So, for a chip like this,
    even if you buy a native drive in a year's time, the max burst
    rate is still not going to be any better, due to the PCI bus.

    Many SATA chips support two drives, for a theoretical maximum of
    300MB/sec. For motherboard chipsets that have SATA built in, there
    is the potential to connect them to an internal bus, which is
    running faster than the current PCI. So, when shopping, you
    need to check whether the SATA on the motherboard comes from the
    Northbridge or the Southbridge, and if it does, is it connected
    to a faster internal bus. An example of a faster bus, is the
    266MB/sec CSA bus on an Intel 875P. This kind of architecture
    allows peripherals with a faster transfer rate than ordinary PCI
    to work at closer to their potential.

    Many architectural changes are coming to PC motherboards, and
    there will be havoc as these changes are introduced (the havoc is
    necessary to break free of the chicken versus egg issues of
    advancing past 133MB/sec PCI). It is hard to offer advice on
    which options are the best ones to bet on. Having any SATA
    interface, even if it is a little inferior, will be necessary
    for the day that parallel interface drives are no longer being
    sold everywhere. So, I wouldn't lose any sleep over the current
    limited implementations, as the main value of a SATA interface is
    it helps ensure you can buy a new drive in a few years for your
    "aged" motherboard.

    Think of SATA right now as compatibility insurance, rather than
    as a performance thing. SATA will become faster in the future,
    at which point there will be a performance advantage, assuming
    that someone builds a disk drive with higher media rates. But,
    by that time, so many other things will have changed in the PC,
    you'll be buying another motherboard anyway.

    HTH,
    Paul
     
    Paul, Jun 27, 2003
    #3
  4. Ed T Wilson

    MikeM Guest

    There is another advantage, beside the easy of instalation, and neater
    hookup, and that's a dedicated 150Mb bus. Many of the boards offer SATA in
    addition to a RAID controller which would offer better performance for
    processing files, ie (Video) reading from the RAID and writing to the SATA.
     
    MikeM, Jun 27, 2003
    #4
  5. Ed T Wilson

    Ed T Wilson Guest

    Thanks for the explanation. It answered my question.
     
    Ed T Wilson, Jun 27, 2003
    #5
  6. Ed T Wilson

    Nom Guest

    ?
    SATA's benefits are not performance related. It's better than IDE in every
    single way you can possibly think of - you'd be mad to buy an IDE drive
    instead !

    Take a look here http://www.serialata.org/about/index.shtml
     
    Nom, Jul 1, 2003
    #6
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