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Fastest DVDROM Throughput - Onboard IDE, PCI IDE Card, or PCI-X Card

Posted on 2006-07-06
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I am going to be doing a lot of ripping and burning.  I have a server that I am going to put 4 DVD Drives into.  What would the fastest solution be.  I would like to be able to rip 2 and burn 2 at the same time if at all possible.  I will be putting the files onto 5-Maxtor 200GB 7200RPM Drives in a Raid 3 array, so drive space and speed shouldn't be my bottleneck.

The following slots are open for use
2 - IDE Onboard
1 - PCI Slot(would not be available if I put in the card below
2 - 64-bit/66MHz PCI-X

1 - 2 port 133 MHz IDE Card(it's cheap card, but still works :)

questions I need answered are:
1. Is using the 2 port IDE card going to be faster, or slower than the onboard IDE
2. Should I run all four drives off of the onboard, or run all four off the card, or 2 Drives onboard, and 2 drives off the card?
3. Would I benefit from buying a 4 port 64-bit/66MHz PCI-X IDE Card.

Thanks guys
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Question by:puter_geek
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by:computerfixins
ID: 17051081
1.  In theory it should be slower, due to the bandwidth limitions of the pci bus.  

2.  You might find that having two drives on the pci bus will increase performance, this really depends on pci card, motherboard design, chipset, etc...

3.  If your going to spend some money, I'd probaly invest in RAM, the more the merrier if your going to be burning globs of data.  Considering a typical dvd is 4.7 gigs and bigger o.O,  having 2 gigs o ram wouldnt be a waste.

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by:Callandor
ID: 17051096
The fastest DVD drives are about 16x right now, and since DVD 1x = 1.2MB/sec, each drive would have a maximum transfer rate of 19.2MB/sec.  That is far below the limit of IDE, which is 133MHz x 32bits = 533MB/sec.  If they were hard drives, it would be a different story, since the best RAID setups benefit by running on a 64bit/66MHz slot (or PCI-e slot).  The answer is, it doesn't really matter which one of the choices you pick; they are all capable of more throughput than the DVDROMs are combined.
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by:Callandor
ID: 17051124
I should revise that - optical drives run at ATA33, not ATA133, so the maximum bandwidth is 133MB/sec, but that still exceeds what a pair of DVD drives on one cable will output.
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by:puter_geek
ID: 17051133
Which, if any will be the least CPU intensive?  Will it matter?  I am running only a P4 2.66Ghz.
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by:puter_geek
ID: 17051143
Here is a link to the same motherboard as I have.
http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=SE7210TP1-E-PB-N&cat=MBB
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by:puter_geek
ID: 17051169
Or, What if I bought SATA DVD Drives? and SATA Controller?
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by:Callandor
ID: 17051274
I bought that same motherboard for building my video server not too long ago - it's a cheap PCI-X platform, and I'm only using a P4 1.8a (I paid less than $100 for mine from the same place).  The cpu utilization will depend on the drives you use; Plextor is a known leader in this department.  SATA wouldn't benefit you in this situation - IDE is more than sufficient.
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by:enfz
ID: 17051311
Lets firstly get some numbers in place.
Those 7200rpm HDD you mentioned above have around 40 - 50MB/s sustained rate on average.
32bit/33MHz = 133MB/s throughput
64bit/66MHz = 533MB/s throughput

You mentioned that you are going to be using 5 disks in a raid-3 array, so that means all those hard drives has to be connected to the RAID controller. You can possibly get something like the SATA Revo64 5-port version.
Link to 3port version review - http://www.techreport.com/reviews/2005q4/xfx-revo64/index.x?pg=1
Those when using Raid-3 with only 3 hdds, the sustained read/write averages around 90~MB/sec. So if you are using 5 drives, that will further tax the PCI bus, so best is to take advantage of the 32bit/66MHz which this card supports (266MB/s throughput). On each of the IDE, whack an optical drive on each of them on their own channel. One other option is to get a PCI ATA100/133 card, install a standalone HDD and run it as your bootup drive. Your RAM and CPU has to be able to coupe with the heavy disk activity too. SMP setup and 1GB RAM++ is preferable.
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garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 17051465
The optical data rates don't come close to stressing the data bus -- either on-board or PCI.   The issues you need to consider are:

(1)  Put each drive on its own channel.  i.e. if you use a 2-port IDE card, attach only TWO drives to it (one on each channel)

(2)  Transfer rate to/from your RAID array isn't an issue; but disk "thrashing" may be, depending on the data locations.  

(3)  The random write performance of a RAID-3 array is not particularly good; but if you're ripping music/video files (which are large) the sequential nature of those writes should give you good performance.  

(4)  For the application you've suggested, however, I would use individual disks -- that way you can control where the data is for each of your burners and almost totally eliminate thrashing.   The sustained transfer rate of any modern disc is FAR above what you need -- so there's no need for a RAID array.

(5)  The CPU speed is almost irrelevant -- you'll be using very little % of the CPU.   The much more important factor is to isolate the drives on their own channels and to have adequate disc throughput.

(6)  SATA DVD drives would give you a better burst throughput capability -- but remember that an IDE channel is still faster than the optical drive can sustain, so the streaming performance wouldn't be any better.   On the WRITE side, however, the faster burst capability would allow better buffer management by your writing software -- and SATA drives, since they are higher end, also tend to have larger buffers.  But from a simple throughput consideration, there's no real reason to use SATA.

Bottom line:   SATA drives would give you some extra headroom, but aren't necessary.  The most important factors are (a) be sure each drive is on its own channel; and (b)  organize your hard disks so all 4 optical drives aren't using the same hard disk at the same time (causing a lot of head thrashing which may -- especially if you're ripping/writing video files -- cause sustained data rate issues).
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by:willcomp
ID: 17051573
Bus limitations are not a problem.  It would be best to have each drive on an IDE channel by itself.

Fastest DVD-RW drives available are these Plextor 18X drives:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16827249003

Trying to run multiple tasks on a single core CPU may be limiting factor.  I've never tried to do so much at once, but seems that a dual core CPU would be a wise investment along with additional RAM.
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by:garycase
ID: 17051742
... two other thoughts:  

(1)  Be sure you get ample RAM (at least 1GB, and 2GB would be nice) so there's plenty of buffer space for your ripping/burning applications

(2)  The limiting factor here may be the ripping and burning software.   Not all packages support multiple instances; and some burning software that supports multiple burners only does so if they are all burning the same thing (that may not be a limitation -- depends on your application).



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by:puter_geek
ID: 17052434
This is the card I am using for the Raid Array.  They are all IDE Drives.  It's in a 64bit slot.
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-Details.asp?EdpNo=1049660&sku=P450-9004
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by:garycase
ID: 17052475
That should work fine -- the 128mb buffer should significantly reduce any thrashing issues in the use you've indicated.   What are you using for the ripping and burning software?
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by:puter_geek
ID: 17052587
enfz>>>I already have 2 36GB Raptors Mirrored for my OS.

garycase>>I currently have 1GB of memory(for now).  The dual core upgrade is coming soon.  Waiting until Conroe launches :).  So far all of the programs that I use support multiple running instances.
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by:garycase
ID: 17052784
Sounds like you're set to go ... I'm also waiting for Conroe to build my next system;  but you don't need a dual core for this application => you'll find very low CPU utilization (if all you're doing is ripping and burning -- different story if you're doing intermediate processing).
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by:garycase
ID: 17052923
The RAID card you're using is fine for the limited I/O you're doing (4 simultaneous I/O's at most times);  but just so you understand it's limitations -- in a transaction-oriented scenario the review of the newer version of the card linked to by enfz above says "... Performance can't get much worse than that."   I suspect this is because of the drive thrashing issues I noted earlier.   Shouldn't be a problem in the use you plan, but just something you might want to be aware of.   The rebuild times were also very disappointing in the review -- but I suspect they have been improved since then (and that's not something you'll do very often -- at least one certainly hopes not).
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by:maninblac1
ID: 17053599
You will not be able to update your processor to Conroe on an old motherboard.  Unless it has an intel 945, 965 or 975 chipset.  Then you might be in luck.  The reason is that the VRM requirement for conroe is different than from all the other LGA775 chips intel has currently on market.  Unless your board is labeled as conroe compatable or you vendor has decided to give a firmware upgrade that will change the way your motherboard handles the VRM will will have to buy a new board.  *sigh* i was kinda hoping to do the same thing till i learned that.  Also note, that the 965 is a slightly better chipset than the 975 except the 965 does not support crossfire.  The 965 has better memory management and controlling than it's 975 predecessor which is a must have with an Intel chip.

To answer your question.  If you're worried about price then you will be fine running PCI-X.  There are lots of boards out there that will support that set up and it will provide you with the fastest throughput.  But only in a RAID environment.  Your DVD drives and CD drives will not benifit from being put on this bus and it would be simplest to attach them to their respective on board ports.

If you're not worried about price, invest in some SATA II and a PCIe x4 RAID card, and a conroe board.  Asus has three conroe ready boards, P5B, P5B Deluxe, and P5WDH Deluxe.  Gigabyte has a nice board that's conroe ready now.  Frankly i like Asus, but whatever.  But you must be cautious with your new board since it will likely lack IDE slots.  The 3 Asus boards only have 1 IDE slot.  Or 0 i don't remember.

Simply put if you have a good processor and even a midrange setup it'll perform as good as you expect it to.
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by:knoxzoo
ID: 17053764
I'm already running a similar setup on my toy at home.  It's got the Plextor 716A-S SATA DVD writers, feeding to, and being fed by, 15kr IBM SCSI-320 hard drives.  Rip and burn times are less than a trip to the kitchen for a snack and a soda.  I tried it with ATAPI drives, but they just weren't moving fast enough if I put two drives on a controller.  Theoretical speed is rarely actual speed, and for this kind of stuff, SATA proved far superior - even if Tom's says the Plextor S drives aren't as fast as the ATAPI drives (something I know hasn't proven to be the case in any of the systems I've worked with).
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by:puter_geek
ID: 17053957
maninblac1>>  Considering my board is a Socket 478, upgrading to conroe would be a little far-fetched.  :P  The reason that I went with IDE, is because I bought 3 drives for less than $100 brand new and I bought two more to just fill the card I have.  Price is definitely being worried about being that this is for my home use and could be considered a toy  :).  I will probably end up upgrading to SATA II in the future, but I am still saving up for Conroe right now.   And as much as Seagates 750GB Drives have went down already, they are lookin good, too.  
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by:garycase
ID: 17055787
... yep, those 750GB drives are looking mighty nice :-)
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by:enfz
ID: 17056193
Sata II is probably abit more a hype than anything. Same with ATA133...
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by:maninblac1
ID: 17058142
The extra Peak bandwidth of SATA II happens with cached reads.  And with larger and larger HDD caches this is becoming a bigger factor.  But it's correct that typically HDD don't read at 300MB/s most sustained bandwidth is around 60-70MB/s.
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by:computerfixins
ID: 17060389
Aplication level sustained performance is more like 35 mB/s.

I always though that sata used less cpu... not sure though.  I also have seen a performance increase by using the pci sata controller instead of the onboard controller...  Although common sense tells me this is backwards... This could be due to cache on the pci controller, bad mobo design etc...  

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by:maninblac1
ID: 17060893
comptuerfixins, after reading your post i went back and checked at WD to see if i was mistaken, and i looks like i am, i had it backwards.  SATA II supports up 70MB/s from buffer to disk, not disk to host.  Sustained data rate is anywhere between 31-65MB/s depending on file contiguousness.

As for being less CPU intensive, the controllers on the newer SATA and SATA II drives do take less off the CPU because they "do more" on drive then sending work back to the CPU to compute.  They've yet to include small CPU's on HD though, that would be nice to see.  Be able to copy or move files and the CPU never has to do anything.
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by:garycase
ID: 17216975
puter_geek -> Thanks for the points.   I did just notice a WRONG comment here, so I'll make a quick comment on that:

r.e. "... Sustained data rate is anywhere between 31-65MB/s depending on file contiguousness." ==>  WRONG.  ... Non-contiguous files aren't likely to get close to either of these sustained rates.
The sustained data rate varies because of the zoned sectoring, NOT because of "... file contiguousness ..."    Outer cylinders transfer data much faster than inner cylinders, because there are more sectors per cylinder [all modern disks use zoned sectoring].   That's the reason that block numbers are assigned starting with the outer cylinders.

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