Hard Drives

  1. Is ATA133 better than ATA100? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]
  2. Is a ATA100/133 drive backwards compatible? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]
  3. IDE ribbon cables? 40/80 wire, flat/bendy, whats the deal? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]
  4. Is it ok to have 2 IDE drives on one cable? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]
  5. I purchaced a 40Gb drive. Why do i only get 38Gb of free space?
  6. Western Digital drives with 8MB cache... Are they better? [Outdated question - modern drives have 8MB or more of cache memory]
  7. Fluid Vs Ballbearing drives? Whats better? [Outdated question - modern drives no longer use ball bearings]
  8. Are 7200rpm drives better than 5400rpm?


Q: Is ATA133 better than ATA100? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]

A: No, not usually. The maximum sustained transfer rates for current IDE drives is around 40 to 50Mb/sec, well below the limitations of either ata100 or 133. Only DATA burst speeds are favourably effected by the increased bandwidth, and burst speeds only have a very limited effect on overall performance. The main benefits of ATA133 are: Combined bandwidth for 2 drives on the same channel is increased and ATA133 allows native use of drives over 127Gb in capacity (an ata100 limitation) Note: The latest revision of ATA100 now supports 48bit addressing thus drives over 127Gb capacity.



Q: Is a ATA100/133 drive backwards compatible? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]

A: Yes. All ATA drives are backwards compatible with PIO/DMA/ATA33/66/100. Just bear in mind that you will be limited to the slowest component, and older motherboards/systems often have inherent capacity limitations. e.g. Motherboards of Pentium 2 vintage (ATA33) often cannot handle drives over 33.8Gb (BIOS limitation).



Q: IDE ribbon cables? 40/80 wire, flat/bendy, whats the deal? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]

A: There are two types of IDE cables and come in two shapes. 40wire IDE cables cannot go higher than ATA33. These are becomming obselete. Newer 80wire cables are better as they can handle ATA66/100 and 133 speeds. IDE cables can also be "rounded" (rolled up). rounded cables work exactly the same, but their shape means they are easier to bend, look neater, and often improve case airflow by taking up less room.



Q: Is it ok to have 2 IDE drives on one cable? [Outdated question - modern drives use SATA]

A: Yes it is, but bear in mind that you are sharing the bandwidth of the cable & controller equally. Thus you may loose performance, especially when copying FROM one drive to the other.

If you have two modern (fast) IDE drives you may see better performance with each drive on a dedicated IDE channel. Care must also be exercised when dealing with Hard drives and Optical drives. Ideally for maximum performance you would want each hard drive to have its own cable, with any optical drives sharing a seperate cable. This can be a complex balancing issue, so read the following 2 links for more details.

http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/if/ide/confPerformance-c.html
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/if/ide/confRecommendations-c.html



Q: I purchaced a 40Gb drive. Why do i only get 38Gb of free space?

A: Basically its to do with math. Drive manufacturers count capacity in decimal:
i.e. 1 Gb = 1,000 Mb = 1,000,000,000 bytes.
But the computer system and software typically counts capacity in binary, so 1 Gb = 1024 Mb = 1,073,741,824.
Thus a 40Gb drive will read around 37 to 38 Gb of free space, bearing in mind that a small amount is allways lost in the formatting process to the file system as well.



Q: Western Digital drives with 8MB cache... Are they better? [Outdated question - modern drives have 8MB or more of cache memory]

A: Yes. Although there seems to be much heated debate on exactly how the performance gains are achieved. The increase of the onboard cache size from 2MB to 8MB seems to aid the efficiency of the read/write process, especially when dealing with lots of small read/write requests/files. Drive firmware optimizations also play a signifigant role.

Of course to get a drive with 8Mb cache you must pay a premium.

Additionally, since the start of October the drives FROM W.D. with 8Mb cache retain the 3 year guarantee, with Seagate and Maxtor planning on following suite with their 8Mb cache offerings.



Q: Fluid Vs Ballbearing drives? Whats better? [Outdated question - modern drives no longer use ball bearings]

A: Hard drives with fluid dynamic bearing motors (FDB) are very new, and are still only available in limited quantities. The use of FDB on high end SCSI drives with 5 year warantees seems to indicate that the companies have confidence in their long term reliability.

To date, lab testing on a number of review sites has indicated that the FDB drives run quieter than ball bearing drives, by about 3dBA on average. Have yet to see any hard DATA that proves that the FDB drives run any cooler than contemporary drives. Both Maxtor and Seagate currently produce IDE deives with fluid bearings.



Q: Are 7200rpm drives better than 5400rpm?

A: Definately Yes. Faster rotation speeds gives quicker seek times (drive is more responsive) and also greater read/write speeds (Max sustained DATA transfer rate). There are a few downsides for faster spinning hard drives including increased noise (higher pitch), heat output and a slightly lower DATA density. With modern IDE drives however these downsides are typically insignificant unless you desire a completely silent system.



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