Analysis and Conclusion

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-01-09 Print this article Print

Serial ATA is here, finally. It probably wont make much of a dent in parallel ATA drives until the standard is integrated into the core logic. But since many new motherboards ship with S-ATA connectors, its certainly a viable option for secondary or tertiary storage. Most of these boards also have support for Serial ATA RAID as well, though the PCI bus may be a bottleneck in these cases. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with the performance of the Seagate drive. The benchmarks were, in general, as good or better than those of the parallel ATA version of the same drive. We suspect that performance in general should be pretty good for single drives. Note that youre not paying any premium, either, as the ST3120023AS is priced roughly the same as the parallel ATA ST3120023A. The real bummer is that you wont be able to have an all S-ATA system even after support for Serial ATA arrives in the core logic. Until the optical drive manufacturers also get on board, well still have to live with those clunky parallel ATA cables. Also, large IT organizations will likely make the transition more slowly, due to their current infrastructure of parallel ATA systems.
But within a few months, there should be no reason to opt for parallel ATA hard drives for new systems for individual users. New motherboard chipsets arriving before midyear will have Serial ATA in the core logic, north of the PCI bus. Performance should be just a bit better, if only because the PCI overhead will be eliminated. Note, however, that its not known if any chipset maker will put S-ATA RAID in the chipset -- now that would be fast and convenient.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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