Hard Drive Question

Discussion in 'Computing' started by ShaneSelby, Apr 16, 2002.

  1. ShaneSelby

    ShaneSelby Guest

    Okay, I know this is a simple question to many of you here but I am lost. I have read so many posts and cant figure this out. So if anyone could explain it to me in simple terms I would appreciate it. I will be buying the ASUS P4B266-C Mobo and P4 1.6a CPU. I will be buying 2 hard drives. One a 10gig for the OS nad programs and the other a 60gig for the music files. Of course I will go with 7200rpm. But what is ATA 100 or 133. What does this mean and which should I run with my set-up? Also do I need a controller card to run these HD's. Can someone please give me an ideal setup that I could use as an example for when I buy.

  2. Nick Driver

    Nick Driver Guest

    Your mobo only has ATA/100 controllers on board, so running an ATA/133 disk plugged into it will slow down its theoretical max burstable thruput to 100MB/s. However, all contemporary ATA/133 disk drives are only really capable of ever sustaining in the neighborhood of 30-40MB/s continuous thruput anyway -- the same as their ATA/100 counterparts, and actual real world short bursts of data from either an ATA/100 or an ATA/133 really only ever get to be around 80-90 MB/s anyway, for extremely short bursts too, so there's really not much difference... you'll never see a 33% difference in performance between the two, maybe what feels like a couple percent, but that's about it. Ideally, you want to run each hard drive on it's own IDE controller, and not put two IDE devices (master/slave) on one controller even though electrically you can. Since you have two hard drives, and probably also a CD/DVD drive and maybe also perhaps a CDR burner some day, I'd find myself a cheap two-channel ATA/66 or ATA/100 card and hang the CD drives off that, and put the real hard drives on the mobo's primary and secondary IDE interfaces, one drive as master on each interface. The reasoning behind this is that there is a bandwidth "errata" (hardware bug) in the chipset (confirmed in the i850, suspected in the i845D since we're told they both use the same MCH) that limits max bandwidth when it comes to writing from memory *to* the PCI bus, as in DMA transfers, and can limit the volume of data that can be written to something plugged into a PCI slot, like a disk controller, in a given amount of time. The on-motherboard ATA/100 controllers do not go thru this MCH bottleneck, so even though you might think that an ATA/133 controller card in a PCI slot would be better, it might not acually be. Having said all that mumbo-jumbo, I run my hard disks as a mirrored pair (raid-1) off a Promise FastTrak100 TX2 card in a PCI slot because I worry more about losing a disk drive than about losing a bit of performance.
  3. ShaneSelby

    ShaneSelby Guest

    Okay , so then what your saying is that I will be better off sticking with the ATA 100 drives? Also, since my Mobo has an onboard ATA 100 contoller then I do not need an additional controller card to run both drives?? I understand why I would not want to run the drives on the same cable as a slave and master, but how exactly do I run them seperate? Do I have 2 IDE's available for both drives from the Mobo? Would I then run the CD drives as slave at the end of the hard drive lines? Please excuse my ignorance but this is real new to me. As for the RAID I just dont get it. :) Thanks for the help!!!!
  4. Nick Driver

    Nick Driver Guest

    ATA/133 drives are of course better than ATA/100 drives, you just will never get to see the increase in performance until the next generation of motherboards comes out that fully support ATA/133 in their chipsets or if you connect them to a real ATA/133 interface that lives outside of the i845/i850 chipset in a current motherboard....then you might run into the MCH bandwidth limiting bug which will likely negate any performance increase you'd otherwise expect. ATA/100 is presently performing more than adequately well enough for just about everyones DAW needs.

    You don't want to mix CDROM drives on the same IDE controller as a hard drive... if DAW performance is what you're after then use only one hard drive, set as master, per controller, no slave IDE drives permitted. Even though the IDE specifications say you can put two devices (one master, one slave) on each IDE controller, performance will suffer in a DAW. Sounds like a bit of a waste of hardware capability don't it? Well, in a typical home or office machine it sure is, but not in a DAW however. There you don't want any slave device on the IDE channel to impede the thruput to the hard drive, since IDE is a shared bus. If you absolutely have to put a slave device on one of the motherboard IDE controllers, then put it on the primary along with your "C" drive since that is the lesser evil. Your drive to hold all your audio working data files needs to absolutely be on an IDE controller by itself. That's why if you need to have four IDE devices (2 hard drives, a cdrom drive and a CDR burner) in a DAW, the ideal setup is:

    C drive as master on primary controller.
    D drive as master on secondary controller.
    CDROM drive as master on channel 1 of a two-channel PCI IDE card.
    CDR Burner as master on channel 2 of a two-channel PCI IDE card.
    (CDROM and CDR Burner as master and slave on a single channel PCI IDE controller card wouldn't be all that bad either... might affect copying CD disk-to-disk operations but usually CDR burner software figures that out and creates a temporary intermediate disk image file if it can't get enough bandwidth to do a direct disk-to-disk operation)

    The Promise Ultra 133 TX2 is an affordable dual channel PCI IDE card that'll let you attach the CDROM and CDR burner drives. You may not be able to boot from some bootable cdrom disks with it however, but bootable Windows OS disks (98/ME/2K/XP) are supposed to work. You could also try attaching your ATA/133 drives to it and use the on-motherboard IDE to attach the CD devices and see if you can prove my theory wrong.

    I have a PCI disk controller in my machine and have my cd devices on the motherbaord controllers, but I plan to never be using so many audio channels at once as to max out my PCI bus bandwidth when both the audio interface hardware and disk controller card are fighting each other simultaneously for PCI bandwidth. The on-motherboard IDE controllers are not supposed to route their data thru the portion of the chipset that has the PCI bandwidth-limiting bug in it... is why I was advocating putting your hard drives on the motherboard's controllers, and since they're only ATA/100 as of today's motherboard, then ATA/100 hard drives would be plenty good enuff for that.
  5. ShaneSelby

    ShaneSelby Guest

    Nick thanks for all the info. Okay, so here is my plan thanks to you. Let me know if I am on trck!! I am going to purchase the Promise Ultra 133 TX2 card to run both CD drives. I will set both cd drives as masters since it is a 2 channel card. I will run my hard drives off the onboard controller. So can I assume correctly that the onboard controller has 2 IDE channels, a primary and secondary? If so, I will put my smaller drive with the OS and programs on the primary channel and all my audio data on the larger drive on the secondary channel.
    Now each of my 4 divices will be on their own IDE channel each as their own master. I will use ATA 100 7200rpm drives avoiding the limiting bug. Well hopefully I got it now. Thanks again for your help.

    2 quick questions?
    Where should I put my floppy drive? Can I slave that to a CD-Rom? And which OS are you using with your set-up or which would you reccomend to me?

  6. Nick Driver

    Nick Driver Guest

    The floppy drive goes to it's own (34-pin) connector on the motherboard, it is not an IDE device.

    I'm using Windows XP Pro. Most folks seem to think that Windows 2000 Pro is the best for a PC DAW because it has been around longer, already has Service Pack 2 available and is thus more mature. Some folks won't/can't go later than Win98SE. The audio interface manufacturers have mostly been working fast and furious to officially support XP drivers, but there have been some good and bad stories in that arena. At this point in time, you should probably select what audio interface you're going to buy and make your OS choice on what drivers are available for which OS and how good the driver support is for each. This area is a whole other can of worms.

    Re: the Promise 133 IDE card, over in another thread, Opus mentioned another configuration that will work very well too. If you do get ATA/133 hard drives, to do this:

    Main OS and software hard drive (C:) on mobo primary IDE channel,
    CDROM or CDR burner on mobo secondary channel
    Music DATA hard drive on ATA/133 PCI card
    Other CD drive either on second Promise card channel or slave it off the mobo secondary channel if cd-to-cd copying ain't an issue, if you hang a CD drive off the second Promise channel with a hard drive on the first, just don't do anything that is reading/writing to that CD drive at the same time as you're doing DAW operations to the hard drive because you'll be sharing I/O bandwidth on that one PCI slot and you don't want to bottleneck you thruput to the audio data disk.)

    That way you'd see the benefit of ATA/133 on your music hard drive until up to the point where you try recording/processing so many tracks simultaneously (assuming you're using an audio interface that has 8 or more input channels) that your audio interface card and the PCI disk interface card together suck up all the PCI bus bandwith till it reaches the saturation point. That's kinda how I intend for my system to work, especially since I only intend to have a 4-input sound card.

    Thoroughly confused now? Good, I am too. Welcome to the club :)
  7. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Shane, one thing I didn't see mentioned may ease at least one of your concerns: Most, if not all, new hard drives are ATA133 spec. If you put one of these drives on an ATA100 controller, the drive will just "slow down" to ATA100. In other words, new drives are "backward compatible", and since ATA100/133 is still a moot point (pretty much doesn't matter)you can just buy your favorite brand of 7200 rpm drive and worry about other things.

    Also, not that Intel would be totally honest about this, but their notes on the PCI bandwidth limits claim that the i850 chipset (rambus) DOES have this data corruption "errata" and will NEVER be fixed, and that the i845D chipset (DDR ram) HAD several bugs, ALL of which were fixed in recent BIOS updates. Like I said, trust them if you will, but personally I'll take the i845D route.

    All of Nick's advice has been dead on, ESPECIALLY about the following:

    "At this point in time, you should probably select what audio interface you're going to buy and make your OS choice on what drivers are available for which OS and how good the driver support is for each. This area is a whole other can of worms."

    If, and I do mean IF, you can find the audio hardware you want and it supports XP, that would probably be a good way to go. XP seems to be getting de-bugged for audio reasonably well now. Under the right configuration settings, XP combined with the i845 chipsets, supports 8 extra Interrupt Requests (IRQ's) and this will allow easier future expansion without conflicts. Opus was going to report on the reality of this, if he ever builds enough machines to actually keep one around long enough to play with it :=)

    "Thoroughly confused now? Good, I am too. Welcome to the club" - And, lest you think it's a SMALL club: not only can you NOT be President, you may have trouble finding a seat in the back row... Steve
  8. ShaneSelby

    ShaneSelby Guest

    You guys are so great!! I am smaking myself in the head about that floppy question. I KNEW THAT!!!!! But now I have another question. Why not run both hard drives off the dual channel promise card and take advantage of the extra 33% on both and run the CD-rom drives off the pimary and secondary? Or do I have to keep my OS on the primary IDE connection?

    Knite... The P4B266-c comes with the i845D chipset so I will need to update the bios when I instal it. What is the best way to do this? Put it all together and then run the update from a disk? This computer will not be connected online so I will have to safe the file.

    Okay and the one question you knew was comming? Which brand of HD's do you both like? I figured my OS drive is only going to be a 10gig. Dont see why I would want more than that. And the second a 60gig or so.

    Oh yea I will be either running the M-Audio Delta 1010 interface or the DSP2000. So say 8 channels at a time would be the most I would record unless I get a second card.
  9. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Although it is feasible to run a boot drive from add-in cards, sometimes simpler is better from a stability/functionality standpoint. I'm not familiar with the Asus Mobo, but some boards are easier to get to boot from un-conventional sources than others. The most important drive for a DAW is the audio recording one, so that should definitely go on the fastest controller, just in case it actually makes a difference. I would keep the boot drive on the Mobo connectors, along with the burner - then, put the CD-rom and audio drive each on their own cable on the add-in controller.

    As long as the machine is a dedicated DAW, 10 gigs should be plenty for OS/Apps. Drives are a matter of (mostly) preference, and I'm not a good source of horror stories on that. At the risk of calling down the wrath of the drive gods, I've never had a hard drive fail in 5 different machines. I've used Micropolis, IBM, Western Digital, Mitsubishi, no failures. I know this is not typical (see above about wrath...) I have heard the stories of IBM failures, mostly the 75GXP series. I intend to use 80 Gig Maxtors in my next system (8 of them)- the fluid bearing ones are more expensive than the others in the same model series, with the same warranty. In my case (literally) the little difference in noise level will be outside, so I probably won't bother with the fluid versions. (Fluid bearing versions have an "L" just before the last two digits of the part #, as in 68LxxxxL80 (the second "L" is the one. a "J" here is a non-fluid bearing drive, and will be $5 to $15 cheaper.

    Updating a BIOS may or may not be necessary - watch your bootup screen for BIOS version, then check their site for most recent. Most BIOS updates I've used are small enough to fit on a floppy, so downloading on a separate machine is fine. Just be sure to read any and all directions in FAQ or ReadMe files, and follow them EXACTLY. Some of these are written by people whose English is their 3rd or 4th language (not a slam, that's 2 or 3 more languages than I speak) so it can be difficult to understand just what some things mean. When in doubt, it's best to call tech support and wait the usual 45 minutes to talk it through with a tech. Usually you get a flash utility and a BIOS file, the utility boots to a DOS prompt and you type the name of the BIOS file, or it self-runs. But definitely check your current version, you may not need to update. Hope this helps... Steve
  10. Nick Driver

    Nick Driver Guest

    The most logical reasons I can think of is that you don't really need the extra thruput on the C drive for the OS and apps, and also you want to give all available PCI bandwidth for use by the soundcard and the audio data disk (if hosted on a PCI card), which will be two very bandwidth-hungry devices on the PCI bus.
  11. songs4Him

    songs4Him Guest

    Nick....your configuration with the Promise 133TX2 is interesting but new to me. Other configurations I've seen combine the apps HD (master)with the CDROM (slave) on one channel with the files HD (Master) and the CDRW (slave on the other channnel (may have mixed up CDROM with CDRW). What are the real world differences in performance between "your" configuration and the one I discribed (pops/clicks/lockups, slow read/write, etc)? Is it Ferrari versus Porsche or Ferrari versus Pinto?. How much for a Promise card?

    By the way, thanks for all your posts!
  12. Nick Driver

    Nick Driver Guest

    I've used the "Echo Reporter" a tool that came with an Echo Gina audio interface, which tests hard drive thruput and whenever you have a hard drive on an IDE channel by itself, it always shows that you can record/playback concurrently more tracks than when you connect a CD drive as slave onto the IDE channel. The performance difference of separating your drives one per channel vs being chintzy with your IDE channels is probably more like 3/4-ton turbodiesel pickup truck vs. 4-cylinder compact pickup truck both pulling loads up a hill... they both only go about the same speed but one can obviously haul much more cargo at once. The Promise Ultra 133 TX2 cards are downright cheap, usually well under $50, in fact pricewatch.com shows Multiwave (http://) to be selling them right now for only $33, quite a bargain.
  13. jetoney

    jetoney Guest

    okay ,
    I tried to get to the bottom of this stuff today by calling Asus tech supp, Promise tech supp , and WD tech supp. Here's what I got:

    A)Promise tells me that theoretically I should see better performance off of the card(Ultra TX2
    133) because it runs on it's own bios and functions better than onboard. When I asked about
    throughput on the PCI bus relating to big file transfers and soundcards and things like the UAD all running at the same time and pulling a load, I could hear them collectively scratching their " we only know what they tell us" heads. Under these conditions one tech agreed that it would probably be better to run the drives onboard and hang the CDR & CDRW off the card. Now for the tricky part. He also said I may run into problems hanging ATAPI devices(CDR's & CDRW's) off the card, and that in some cases this could do more harm than good.

    B) called WD and these guys told me that as long as I was running a state-of-the-art set-up, I should be able to run OS drive off my primary, then slave my audio drive to that and put my other devices on the other channel. can you say F**king idiots. Trust me I explained what I was doing(4 times in many diff scenarios and they still didn't catch on) and I could not get even a remotely coherent answer. BTW, the worst customer service I have had in a long time.

    which leads me to C)
    ASUS support was excellent, and he explained to me what I wanted to here. He stated that all drives are taxing the PCI bus, but the onboard controller is taking a different path. He said that in my situation It would be best to run my HD's off the onboard controller and my CDR's & CDRW's off the card(provided I can run ATAPI devices on the card), since the the PCI bus will be taking a hit with any souncards as well as UAD's and anything else you want to put in there, the hd's can rely on a cleaner pull and path(although still PCI). He also said if I did it the other way( on the TX2), I could run into latency issues(with all pci cards) with the PCI traffic, all pulling off the same part of the bus . He also said I could possibly get a way with it, because of the onboard bios and control info on the card, and said I may never run into trouble(which I have not- it is what these cards are designed to do). He recommended me try it both ways, and run HD TACH, and I/O METER-by Intel, and benchmark my configs. I would like to do this but I am still a newbie at this kind of stuff , so maybe OPUS or someone can run it on the ANUS and see what up!
    I have concluded a couple of things;
    1)I will probably run my HD's off of the onboard
    controller, if I find no hassles with running my other devices(ATAPI stuff), off the TX2.
    2) Opus's new & suggested config will probably work as well.
    3)I could have gotten an ATA100 card and saved a couple of bucks since it will be more than enough, and onboard RAID might be cool in the future.
    4)I have learned so much about PC's( and OS's) over the last month, I could stand to do without for a little while, BUT,
    It has also been a great learning experience in many ways, and would have never happened if it were not for this site and guys like OPUS. This
    site kicks the crap out of many and there are many guys around here willing to jump into fires just to keep us in tune with this Quest.There is so much more than BS talk going on here. I have finally realized what the knowledge here is worth and I will have no problem kickin' down a few bucks to keep the well from running dry.

  14. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    Ya know....I was trying to stay clear of this dicussion and just read but now that Jetoney shed some light from Asus Tech support I'm going to jump into the fire onec again...
    If you look at the tests that some of us did with that PC Power test proggie you'll see I did a onboard and ATA hard drive test...I got a very very small performance difference hanging my hard drive(OS and apps) on the ATA RAID controller card...It think I will agree with the Asus fella on keeping the hard drive on the primary controller. Also keeping the CDR/W on my secondary. I've concluded that having two optical drives is silly and there really isnt any need for it unless you want to watch DVD's..then again this machine aint meant for watching movies!! lol
    Also my ANUS is elsewhere(My god that sounds like something I shouldnt be telling you guys!!! :p ) and I think I'll get it back on Monday...aaarrrrggghhhh!! What do I do with myself over the weekend! Well, time to get some good drugs to replace my computer habit for the weekend...lmao!
  15. Nick Driver

    Nick Driver Guest

    My brain hurts.

    I think I'm going to shut off my computer for the rest of the weekend, drink lotsa beers and play my guitar very badly and very loudly.
  16. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    You said it!!!!!!! Funny you should say that...I have a Monty Python day by day calendar and last week one of the days had Mr Gumby cartoon saying "My Brain hurts!" so I tacked it up by my desk!! lol
    Opus :D
  17. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    You said it Guise - I'm gonna fergit this $*^t for a while and go mow a couple acres of grass - IN ANALOG!!! Everybody go eat about 30 pizzas with those beers, so I can "see ya round!" - Was that bad enought so nobody'll miss me for a day or two? (hehehehehehehehehehehehe...)
  18. jetoney

    jetoney Guest

    Here are a couple of answers from my search the other day, that you might find interesting.

    Hi Jason,

    The tech reply makes a bit of sense ... but not entirely. I would REMOVE the promise controller from your system altogether. Why? because there are NO HD's around that get anywhere near stressing the ATA100 std, let alone ATA133. Taking the card out will give you more flexibility with IRQ's and reduce unnecessary traffic on the PCI bus. Here's what I would recommend:

    1) Run your audio HD as the secondary master.
    2) Run your OS HD as your primary master.
    3) Run your CDRW as the primary slave.

    DO NOT connect anything other than another similar HD to the secondary slave in the future.
    There should be no need for a CDROM in the machine if you already have the CDRW.



    The issue with the CDRW and HD speed is a red herring. New IDE controllers can sense what type of device is connected and set the transfer mode accordingly. Besides .... that's why I suggested connecting this to the channel that your OS HD is on. The OS drive is rarely called for by the software once it is loaded and running.

    Now, I am off to Home Depot for a shovel to beat this horse with, cause this bat just is not cuttin' it.

  19. Opus2000

    Opus2000 Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2001
    That's great and all but what about using the RAID just for data as well...
    The IDE bus isnt going to be able to handle mass amounts of 24/96 tracks...
    so putting the CDR/W on the Primary with the OS huh? I guess that makes sense but also goes against what I've seen and from what you have told me about everyone saying they put the CDR/W on the secondary...
    still a mystery...wish I had my system here to do some tests with!! :(

    OK..Let me reiterate...I WISH I HAD MY &$^*&#$ :mad: (#$#$*) COMPUTER TO TEST THIS STUFF OUT!!!!!!
    WAAH...WAHH...<sniff> <sniff>

    Opus.... sitting in a corner twitching from withdrawl symptoms
  20. jetoney

    jetoney Guest

    CDRW on secondary is in most manuals I have read, and just happens to work great im my case. In fact, I have yet to redo my system drive just because the whole mess is working unreal right now. I am off to record right now and lovin'it. Sorry Opus I didn't mean to say that, I mean I am off to do some work around the house; NOT.


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