PCMech Report

Old 12-30-2004, 10:53 AM   #1
spyder003
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A Guide to SATA (NO questions, please)

Hopefully this will help out with the frequent Serial ATA questions around here. If anyone has anything to add, feel free.

A Guide to SATA

Quote:
Originally Posted by Webopedia.com
SATA - Often abbreviated SATA or S-ATA, an evolution of the Parallel ATA physical storage interface. Serial ATA is a serial link -- a single cable with a minimum of four wires creates a point-to-point connection between devices. Transfer rates for Serial ATA begin at 150MBps. One of the main design advantages of Serial ATA is that the thinner serial cables facilitate more efficient airflow inside a form factor and also allow for smaller chassis designs. In contrast, IDE cables used in parallel ATA systems are bulkier than Serial ATA cables and can only extend to 40cm long, while Serial ATA cables can extend up to one meter.

Serial ATA supports all ATA and ATAPI devices.
Why go SATA?

SATA is the future of drive interface. Eventually all HDD and optical drives will take this route. SATA cables are smaller and allow for better airflow and cable management. The best part? SATA drives run on their own channel. This means NO master/slave configurations. That's right, when you get your new SATA drive, you don't need to mess with jumper settings.

Is my SATA drive going to be faster?


In short, no. It does allow for faster transfer rates (150 MB/s and 300 MB/s with SATA II in the works) over the standard 33/66/100/133 used in current PATA devices, but the full potential isn't yet used. These are burst transfer rates; actual sustained transfer rates top out around 80MB/s. The two main contributing factors to drive speed are going to be rotational speed (5400, 7200, 10000 RPM's) and cache (buffer) size. If you're planning on buying a new drive, get at least a 7200 RPM drive with at least an 8MB cache.

What cables do I need?

You'll need two cables. A 7 pin data cable, and a 15 pin power cable. The data cable should come with your motherboard, or you can pick them up at a local PC shop for next to nothing. Most SATA drives can take either 4 pin legacy power or 15 pin SATA power. NEVER use both power connectors. I speak from first hand experience in saying that you can ruin a SATA hard drive this way. Some newer power supplies come with SATA power leads. They are nice to have, but not necessary. If you want to use a SATA power connector, but don't have a SATA power capable power supply, you can buy a 4 pin legacy power to 15 pin SATA power adapter. If you buy a Western Digital SATA drive, they come with a cable called "Secure Connect". One end plugs in to your motherboard, the other connects to the hard drive, covering both the data and power connections on the drive. This does not provide power for your Western Digital drive, it's for data transfer only. This serves two purposes: It covers the SATA power connection on the drive, so you have to use a 4 pin legacy connector. Secondly, it keeps the connection secure - early SATA drives were notorious for loose connectors.

Why isn't my SATA drive being recognized?

If you're going to install your operating system on this drive, you'll have to install the SATA drivers if your motherboard doesn't have native SATA support. If you're installing this as an additional drive, you'll need to install the SATA drivers, then physically install the drive.

As a primary drive:

If your motherboard has native SATA support, you're in luck. All you have to do is install the drive and proceed with a normal operating system installation. If your motherboard uses a 3rd party SATA controller, well you're going to have to install drivers to make that controller work. The drivers for your SATA controller should be included on your motherboard CD, some motherboards come with a SATA driver floppy, or you can download them from the motherboard manufacturer's website. If you're getting the drivers from the installation CD that came with your motherboard, refer to your motherboard manual on where to find the drivers. Normally they are in a "drivers" folder on the CD, or there will be a "makedisk.exe" file that will put the drivers on a floppy for you. If your motherboard came with a SATA driver floppy, you're in luck. If you download the drivers from the manufacturer's website, there should be a readme.txt file in the installation package with instructions for making the floppy disk. Once you have your SATA driver floppy disk, you're ready to install. Set your CD-ROM to the first boot device in the BIOS, insert your Windows CD, and restart. Once the Windows installation starts, watch the bottom of your screen. It's going to search for a few seconds, then you'll see "Press F6 for 3rd party drivers". Press F6 when prompted, then press "S" to specify an additional device. You'll then be prompted to insert your SATA driver disk. Insert the disk, press Enter, and Windows will search the floppy for the correct drivers. When it finds the drivers, your SATA controller will be listed onscreen (it should be the only one listed). It will ask which device you would like to install the drivers for, press Enter and you'll be on your way to a happy Windows installation.

As an additional drive:

If you're going to be using this drive in addition to your primary drive, you'll first need to install your SATA drivers. Whether you're getting your drivers from the motherboard installation CD or from the manufacturer's website, there should be a self installing *.exe file to install the drivers in Windows. Once the drivers are installed, shut your computer down and physically install the drive. So now you've booted back up and your new hard drive isn't showing in "My Computer" right? Simple. Right click "My Computer", go to "Manage", then "Disk Management". Now you should be able to see your new hard drive. Right click it, format it, assign it a drive letter, and it's now ready to use.
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Old 12-30-2004, 10:51 PM   #2
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I'm trying to put together a list of the chipsets that have native SATA support. Here is what I have so far. All of these are southbridge controllers except for the nForce4.

Intel

ICH5*
ICH6*

* = 5R & 6R chipsets also

VIA

VT8237

SiS

SiS964
SiS965

nVidia

nForce4 (vanilla, Ultra, and SLi)

If you see any mention of a Promise or Silicon Image SATA controller, then you'll have to install the 3rd party drivers.

Last edited by spyder003; 12-31-2004 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 01-06-2005, 02:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j_rotten
just what does native sata mean
It means the SATA channels are controlled by the motherboard's chipset, and not by a 3rd party controller.
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Old 01-18-2005, 12:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JTH
There doesn't seem to be a huge advantage to SATA over IDE and EIDE (speed wise anyway).

If you wanted to have RAID, do all drives need to be SATA?
No. As long as your IDE controller supports RAID you can use IDE drives. Some of the new motherboards allow a RAID setup spanning across both IDE and SATA drives.
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Old 02-07-2005, 01:49 AM   #5
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Hey spyder, maybe you can delve into SATA2. My new DFI LANParty NF4 board has SATA2, and I'd like to know if there's that much of a difference between the two types of SATA other than speed, if there's anything different I'd have to do, and how to find a SATA2 hard drive.
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Old 02-07-2005, 02:12 AM   #6
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Don't know much about it. It supports transfer rates of up to 300MB/s, which isn't going to be used for a loooong time. Heck, my Raptor bursts at around 115 and sustains at ~60. I *think* all SATA II drives will include NCQ which is worth buying. It allows the drive to que up to 32 commands, prioritize them, and execute them in the most efficient order. Seagate offers SATA I & II drives with NCQ right now. If you're considering buying a new drive, I'd definitely go for one with NCQ.
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Old 02-20-2005, 06:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knightyc
can u use IDE as well as SATA as i wanna add a couple more HDD to my pc
Yes you can.

Also, in the future you may want to start a new thread for your question. That way you can get the most help to your question as possible

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Old 02-25-2005, 07:10 PM   #8
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Hi all,
Just a statement from me on the speed of S-ATA.

Using Ghost I have timed a disk to disk Ghost of a S-ATA 120Gb to another S-ATA 120 Gb in around two minutes. Ninety odd seconds to be exact.

Now that's fast by anyones standards.
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Old 03-06-2005, 03:23 PM   #9
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Are there any PCI to SATA adapters? I would like to add a SATA drive to my comp, but I don't have SATA support from my mobo. If there are any, how much do they cost and how well do they work?
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:22 PM   #10
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Yes, there are all kinds available, starting at less than 20 bucks, but I'd shy away from the cheaper ones.
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Old 04-09-2005, 10:07 PM   #11
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On the ASUS A8N-SLI board you have the choice of either Silicon Image or NVIDIA RAID. The NVIDIA RAID drivers are NOT native to this board. They must be be loaded from the mobo CD to a floppy and installed when Windows prompts you for third party drivers.
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Old 04-10-2005, 02:05 AM   #12
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The controller is native to the board, but it's too new a controller to have native driver support in Windows. That's why you have to load drivers.
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Old 06-27-2005, 10:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyder003
I'm trying to put together a list of the chipsets that have native SATA support. Here is what I have so far. All of these are southbridge controllers except for the nForce4.

Intel

ICH5*
ICH6*

* = 5R & 6R chipsets also

VIA

VT8237

SiS

SiS964
SiS965

nVidia

nForce4 (vanilla, Ultra, and SLi)

If you see any mention of a Promise or Silicon Image SATA controller, then you'll have to install the 3rd party drivers.
Hi, NForce 3 Ultra has natives Sata for JBOD, but RAID driver must be installed to use RAID
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Old 09-08-2005, 10:42 AM   #14
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SATA DVD Drive

For everyone's info,

I just built a brand new system consisting of: ASUS A8N SLI Deluxe, Athlon FX57, 1 GB Memory, Hitachi SATA II HDD, Plextor 716A DVD Drive, Plextor 716 SA DVD Drive.

Everything worked great until I tested the SATA DVD drive (716SA) and when it tried to read a CD it would lock my system completely, Ctrl-Alt-Del would not even free it.

The solution was simple, I went into the Nvidia controller setting and selected the secondary channel where this DVD drive resided and set the transfre rate to PIO mode.

This advise was given to me by Plextor's tech support and the drive works great now.
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Old 03-12-2006, 06:13 AM   #15
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Hi spyder,

Could I ask, what are the benefits of going SATA? If the full potential of SATA is not being realized, why would one buy a SATA hard disk then?
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Old 03-12-2006, 07:06 AM   #16
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There are still current benefits even if there's really no noticeable speed difference. The cabling is a lot smaller and neater. There are no master/slave configuration issues, one drive per cable. SATA does not have the same "one way" issues as IDE - no more slow data transfers between 2 drives on the same cable. In this respect, you can look at SATA as kind of a "poor man's SCSI".
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Old 04-02-2006, 02:07 PM   #17
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Angry Fire ***Read Me!!!***

I have just cleaned up this thread. Please do NOT post questions, they will be deleted. This thread is for posting answers to frequently asked questions and adding to/clarifying points already brought up, it's a reference thread, not a troubleshooting thread. If you have questions not already covered here or need help, please start a new thread.

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Old 05-06-2006, 07:56 PM   #18
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For NCQ to work,it must be supported by BOTH the drive AND the controller.
It's getting easier to buy drives that support NCQ (NCQ enabled on drive),but
if the onboard controller does not support NCQ, then it will not work no matter
what hard drive you use. Make sure that you buy a motherboard that uses
controllers that support NCQ if you need that feature. The mfg's. web site should
be able to tell you if their board's controllers support NCQ. It's worth it if you want the
best possible performance,though!

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