SATA vs EIDE  Any Compatability ?

Posted on 2006-03-19
Last Modified: 2010-04-12
So I just bought a new Dell Dimension featuring an 80gb HDD Serial ATA.  My "ole" Dell has a real nice WD 120gb EIDE Drive and I would just as soon use this WD 120 in my new Dell.  So the question is: Are there compatability issues between Serial ATA and EIDE ?  If so, what might they be ?  What's the fix ?

As, I believe Dean Martin used to say: "Keep the cards and letters coming folks"
Question by:dockboy549
    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    Post your new Dell model # for more conclusive answers.
    Most likely, you'll have no problems using both drives in your new system. The old drive can go on the first ide channel, the new will have it's own sata channel. You'll have to set it up in the BIOS, most likely, to use both IDE and SATA. Some systems don't allow both PATA and SATA. Using a pci controller card will fix this if it's an issue. I believe your system will be okay with both, but, as said, post your model for a definite 'yes it's okay' or 'no, it's not okay'.

    Author Comment

    Dimension 3100 Now designated E310
    LVL 70

    Accepted Solution

    There's no problem having both an IDE and SATA drive in the same system, but there are a couple of things to be aware of with your system:

    (1)  You only have one IDE connection in that system, and it is currently in use for the optical drive.   You can connect a hard drive to the same channel if the cable has a 2nd connector, or if not you can buy a new cable with two connections so you can use it for both the hard drive and the optical drive.   You need to measure carefully, as you'll probably need a fairly long cable to route to both devices unless you mount the 2nd drive in a 5.25" adapter and mount it below the optical drive.

    (2)  With two devices on the same IDE channel, they both operate at the speed of the slowest device -- so the hard drive will not operate faster than the optical drive (most likely at UDMA-2 speeds).  To ensure you're getting the best possible speed, you should use an 80-wire cable (the one shipped with the Dell may very well only be 40-wire, since they ship it with an optical drive on that channel).

    (3)  IF you have an available PCI slot (there are only two in your PC, so I don't know whether you have them both in use or not) a better way to connect the spare drive would be to use an add-in PCI controller.   That would let the drive work at full speed.  This would work nicely (and supports 48-bit LBA in case you ever decide to add a larger drive), and includes the cable you need:


    Author Comment

    Can the PC be booted from the EIDE drive connected to the add-in PCI controller ?  Could I leave the Serial ATA in place and use it for data storage ?
    LVL 70

    Expert Comment

    Promise controllers are BIOS Boot spec compliant --- so as long as Dell hasn't altered the BIOS you should be able to select "UltraD0" in the boot sequence and boot from the add-in controller.

    You can certainly leave the Serial ATA drive in place and use it for additional storage.   And even if there's an issue with the BIOS Boot specification, a simple boot manager will allow you to boot from either hard drive.


    Author Comment

    Thanks to all who helped.  It will be a while before I will be able to try out your suggestions.  So rather than wait, I just figured what made more sense to me..  I'll be back if I run into more problems..

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