Analysis and Conclusion
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.