Connecting storage devices for optimum speed

Hi folks,

I posted a question similar to this earlier too. This is for my knowledge sake, not an immediate need (that means i am not gonna try out anything you suggest).

How do you connect your HDDs/CD-ROMs/DVDs for best performance? Assume that I have these four devices and two IDE/EIDE connectors:

1. A Samsung Hard Drive SP0802N (80 GB) - Ultra ATA 133 - 7200 RPM
2. A Samsung Hard Drive VG34323A (4.32 GB)
3. A Samsung CD-ROM (CD Master 52E, Model SC-152C)


In particular, it will be nice to hear your advice on these:

1. Does the data transfer rate depend on Master/Slave connections? Or It doesn't matter whether you put your device on Master or slave?
2. Does the data transfer rate depend on Primary/Seconday connections?
3. How will 4.3 GB perform better, when sharing the controller with the 80 GB or when sharing with the CD-ROM?
4. Does the data transfer rate depend on the data cable? Are there data cable of different speed, or there is no such thing involved about cable?
5. How do I find out what standard (ATA 100/ATA 133) does a HDD support? Any tools/utilities?


Thanks for sharing your expertise.
LVL 19
RanjeetRainAsked:
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CallandorConnect With a Mentor Commented:
In general, keep optical drives on their own channel.

1. Master/Slave should not affect data transfer rate.  Some DVD drives only work if they are configured as master, though.
2. Primary/Secondary are interchangeable - one does not run faster than the other, but the search sequence for a boot device is affected by this.
3. Keep hard drives together.
4. Yes, an 80-wire cable will transfer data faster than a 40-wire cable because it has a ground for each signal and thus can sustain higher rates without errors.  ATA 100/133 require this type of cable.
5. Everest will tell you: http://www.lavalys.com/products/download.php?pid=1&lang=en&pageid=3

That's all the questions?
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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
Umm.. kinda cool. But shouldn't you elaborate a little more on this one...

>> Primary/Secondary are interchangeable - one does not run faster than the other, but the search sequence for a boot device is affected by this.


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RedStreakConnect With a Mentor Commented:
As I recall, for all practical purposes the data rate should be the same for P/S or M/S.
ATA-133 is a special cable; you can run an ATA-100 drive on it ok with a ATA-133
drive, but you've lost your speed advantage if you do that. Put the CD on its own cable
separate from the hard drives.

With your h/w, I would put the 80 GB 133 on its own 133 cable as Primary; let it fly.
The smaller 4 GB drive is probably not even 100.

I would put the 4 GB and the CD together as Secondary.

Alan
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CallandorCommented:
It means you could take the cable from the Primary channel and connect it to the Secondary, and you wouldn't notice any difference.  If you had a drive connected to both the Primary and Secondary channels, if you didn't have a BIOS option to specify which to boot from, the Primary channel would be selected first.
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CallandorCommented:
That's interesting - I had forgotten that 4GB drives might not be ATA 100/133.  If it's slower, then RedStreak has the better configuration, but if it's ATA 100 or better, keep the hard disks together.
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LucFConnect With a Mentor EMEA Server EngineerCommented:
Hi RanjeetRain,

Both the 80GB hdd and the CD drive are at least ATA100, the 4.32GB drive is not very likely, you should be happy with a support of ATA66 but most likely it's ATA33.
Devices on a cable will use the slowest speed, so any mix of the 4.32GB drive with one of the others will be a slowdown of the faster drives.

What might be best in your case is to just forget about the 4.32GB drive and ditch it :)
Another option is to put the 80GB and the CD-drive together on the first IDE and the 4.32GB drive alone on the secondary.
This will give you some performance issues between the 80GB hdd and the CD-rom, but at least both will be running at optimum speed.
If you want all to work at optimum speed for each, you can't get around getting yourself another IDE controller (pretty cheap PCI addon card) to connect that old 4.32GB disk to, so you can keep the hdd and cd drive appart and you'll still have room for upgrades in the future like adding another hdd or cd drive.

Greetings,

LucF
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RedStreakCommented:
LucF has a point there ... toss the old 4 GB drive; keep the PC cooler without it in there.

If you really want performance ... get a couple SATA drives. I'm using a pair of 36 GB
as mirrored C: and a Maxtor 80 GB as my D: and E: drives. Have an Athlon-64 and the
system really goes!

Alan


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BraindedCommented:
One point no one has completely mentioned (specifically relating to that 4.3G drive) is that IDE will fall back to the speed of the slowest device on the channel.  It's not limited to 100/133 devices.  That's primarily why you want to keep opticals on their own channel.  A 133 drive will run about 1/4 speed with a typical Ultra-33 CD-ROM slaved to it.

Either way, just dump the 4.3G.  If you really MUST keep it, put it on the secondary channel (M) and slave the CD to it.  Put the 80GB on Primary (M) with an 80-pin cable.
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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
Great! That helps me a lot. You folks are great!!!

LucF, hi. You have a good idea. I might just try that. I will see if I already got such a card in my hardware store. That might be a smart move.

I still see difference of opinions. Naturally so, given that you do not how i intend to use them. A little more light on my usage front, possibly you all can suggest something more.

For all practical purposes I use 80 GB drive. Close to 6 logical drives on it.All OSs are on 80 GB drive and their SWAP space/virtual memory too is hosted on it. All media files are stored on a 40GB partion on it. So, you can see all the action is here. CD-ROM is used sparingly. 4.3 GB is my second line of backup plus disaster recovery tool. All my imporatnt data plus everything my PC needs to get up and running from scrath is stored on it. Needless to say, its usage are minimal too. Only frequent usage are small reading/writing small source code files (average size < 25K).

Now what do you think? Should I chain the 4.3 with CD-ROM.
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CallandorCommented:
Given the likelihood that it's a slower interface and only used for backup, I would hook it up to the CDROM and leave a spot open for that 250 GB drive you've been eyeing.
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LucFEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
I still think slowing the CD-rom down isn't the way to go. As the 4.32GB disk won't be used much, do you find it resonable that it will make the CD-rom operate at a much lower speed?
As it won't used too much, how about setting the 80GB harddisk on the master, the CD-rom on the secondary and only connect the 4.32GB disk if needed? (again the PCI IDE controller will make it possible for it to be connected all the time)

LucF
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CallandorCommented:
I don't think it would slow it down, if at all: 150KB/sec = 1X, so 48X = 7.2MB/sec.  ATA33 is capable of 4 bytes x 33MHz = 132MB/sec, so the hard drive would be constrained by the CDROM, not the other way around.
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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
Ah.. that's interesting. How exactly do you compute the the theoritical throughput of a data bus/interface? Like, where do you get that 4 bytes from?
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BraindedCommented:
Since bus transfer rates are measured in Bytes rather than bits, we use 4 bytes in our equation because there is a 32-bit data path (8 bits=1byte).  Generally, internal transfers are measured in bytes (B) and external transfers, such as network speed, modem speed, etc., are measured in bits (b).
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LucFEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
Callandor,
Although your calculation is right, have you ever tried copying a cd-rom at 52x on a ATA33 system? You'll see that it just can't keep up and you'll receive buffer underruns in no-time. I previously also thought it'd be easy, must be some overhead on the interface.

LucF
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CallandorCommented:
LucF,

I think that may be due to something else other than the ATA interface.  Notice that there are no drives faster than 52X at reading, but 52X doesn't approach the theoretical limit of ATA33.  Here's an interesting article about how CDROM drives work and attributes the limit to the inability to read the disc fast enough: http://www.usbyte.com/common/compact_disk.htm
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LucFEMEA Server EngineerCommented:
Callandor, believe me, I can reproduce this any time I want, even on a fresh installation of win98 on a PIII (intel 440BX chipset) I don't know where it's comming from, but franky I don't care too much about it anymore, I love my PCI-IDE controllers :)

Thanks anyway...

Luc
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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
I do not have the option of doing any testings etc. But I am learning it from your discussion.

I will post my next thoughts when I have any :)
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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
Wow! The link was SUPER. Thanks Callandor :) These two pages unearth the mistery for me.

http://www.usbyte.com/common/compact_disk_6.htm -- What a CD-ROM is capable of (what it needs)
http://www.usbyte.com/common/Interfaces1.htm (http://www.usbyte.com/images/Interf3.gif) -- What an interface is capable of (what it provides)


I conclude even ATA-33 is enough for a 52x CD-ROM (HIgest available at the moment). AM I right?

As for my 4.3 Gigs drive, ATA-33 or ATA-66 should be enough. (And so it should be for 80G one). But the question will remain what loss will my 4.3G suffer in terms of performance, against the 80G. The idea is to minimize the loss. So I guess the answer is 4.3G (Its therotical thruput isn't as different with the CD-ROM as it is with 80G).

So I'd conclude *if* I were to chain the CD-ROM with one of these, I should chain it with 4.3 Gig one. Am i right in concluding?


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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
I want a local copy of usbyte.com on my 80 Gigs... lol
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CallandorCommented:
>I conclude even ATA-33 is enough for a 52x CD-ROM (HIgest available at the moment). AM I right?

That is my conclusion.  Note that DVDs are another story.

>So I'd conclude *if* I were to chain the CD-ROM with one of these, I should chain it with 4.3 Gig one. Am i right in concluding?

Yes, that is what I would do.
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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
Okay. That's it. Thanks for all the great discussion :)
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RanjeetRainAuthor Commented:
This page lists my drive as an Ultra DMA capabale of a data rate of 33.3 MB/Sec (http://www.techadvice.com/older/company/s/samsung_old.htm)
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