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Serial ATA or Parallel ATA ??? Too Early to call ?




I've been a member for quite a while (silent mostly - this is the first night I've posted here...) and I've finally got a question worthy of discussion. I've been playing around with PC's for some time and I'm a decent competent user who's handy enough to specify / configure / fix, or build a box. :eek: I seem to have become the IT guy for family, friends, and coworkers. (All free - must be something wrong with my character..;) -but you get what you pay for...)

I'm planning to take the plunge and get myself a decent box capable enough to do some video editing. (Family Super VHS Movies to DVD.) I have most of the pieces picked out (but the longer I wait they move around a bit :D ).

I just picked up a Maxtor DiamondMax Plus ATA 133 80 Gig 7200 RPM Hard Drive as I had a suspected HD failure on one of my boxes that turned out to be a CMOS Virus and not a drive issue. (It stopped the Bios from seeing the IDE Channel. Came darn close to tossing out the Asus Motherboard :eek: )

Anyway, I was contemplating putting in a SATA HD on the new box as I'd seen the hype about SATA being so much faster than (P-for Parallel) ATA drives. Of course you'd want to start out with the fastest box you could afford as the tech moves so quick it becomes obsolete at an ever increasing rate.:rolleyes:

I try to be diligent in my reseach before buying, so off I went looking at the advertisements like the one at the Maxtor Product page at:


On the right side it says in a red box SATA with 1.5 Gb /sec. Right there I'm sold :rolleyes: that's an order on magnitude better than an (P)ATA 100 Mb / sec or even the Maxtor exclusive ATA 133 Mb/sec. (if you use the right Motherboard or IDE PCI Card). So as a final check I download the specification sheets to find out it's only 150 Mb /sec. Now I'm getting confused :confused:

So I download their White Paper on SATA only to find out they hope to migrate upwards, but the 150 will be the only offering until mid 2005 -and then it only moves towards 300 by 2006. So I diligently call Maxtor's support (they are Great!!) and they advise the web must be a misprint or error!!:mad: There is little difference in the speeds of the drives.

Do you think there's a good technical reason to move to SATA ? I know it will consume less power (don't care); and the cabling can be positioned prettier in the box so guys with side windows can ooh & ahh at their box - especially with the funny blues lights that are so common. (really don't care!!) Is the a real perfomance hit ? If so can you point me to the documentation ?

Thanks for the assist.




Hi Jim. You should involve yourself more in conversation here at NTFS, you'll find it's lots of fun :)
At the moment, the performance difference between SATA and PATA aren't all that great but the gap is beginning to widen. What motherboard will you be using SATA with? So you're building a completely new box right? I'd say, go with SATA if you want the best of the best. The SATA drive I'd recommend for the most speed is a WD Raptor 10k rpm, 5.2ms average seek times, very nice IMO. http://www.wdc.com/en/products/WD360GD.asp


hardware monkey
yeah, that raptor drive is awesome.

but s-ata's simpler serial-based cables do more than keep the case less cluttered... they allow longer cable lengths (up to a meter) and a more solid connection between the drive and controller with practically no chance of interference. EMI and such are issues with parallel drives.
SATA is nice, but not faster, at least not by much. Afaik this is because the current SATA drives are basically PATA drives with SATA converters slapped onto the internal electronics. Until they develop a "real" SATA disk (they may have by now?) there won't be much difference.

But like the other point out, the cable system of SATA is much nicer than that of PATA. So SATA is still a good idea.
i would say go with SATA if you have the money, taurus was right, the raptor drive is a beast. set up some raid on two SATA drives and you will run really fast. best of luck and post some benchmarks if you/went you get SATA working. good luck!


Act your wage.
Political User
I've read some here and there on SATA recently, and I would go with it if I were you. It has more potential in the future, and I will be getting it myself with my next system. You might want to take a look here if you haven't already:

SATA Working Group



Thanks for all of the kind words. I'm toying with going to a ASUS P4C800 board for lots of reasons, one of which was the leap to SATA. (Probably bore all of you if I started going through them :D ) but I'm dligently saving towards the new Box. The more I save the better the "want" list becomes and the specs seem to getting much better too!

Thanks for the suggestions and links. The following is from the Serial ATA Workgroup:


"What is the long-term road map for Serial ATA?
Serial ATA defines a roadmap starting at 1.5 gigabits per second (equivalent to a data rate of 150MB/s) and migrating to 3.0 gigabits per second (300 MB/s), then to 6.0 gigabits per second (600 MB/s). This roadmap supports up to 10 years of storage evolution, based on historical trends."

I must of missed something in Math class years ago. I always thought 1 Gig was a 1,000 Megs and therefore 1.5 Gb/sec was 1,500 MB/sec. (Maybe it's a Canadian thing :D )

In reading the SATA Site it comes through loud and clear this is not a technical change right now, but more a cost out initiative for all of the OEMs involved. (Margins in PC land have dropped horrendously - from the OEMs perspective - in the last few years and they need to improve their bottom lines.)

The following is from the Intel's Serial ATA Page at:


"About Serial ATA
Intel is helping lead an industry working group that has developed a new interface specification designed as a replacement for the parallel ATA interface. Known as Serial ATA, the new serial interface is designed to overcome the limitations of parallel ATA.

Because it combines software transparency, low cost, scalability, and design flexibility, Serial ATA has attracted widespread industry support through the Serial ATA Working Group. APT, Dell, Intel, Maxtor, and Seagate are jointly leading this initiative, with broad industry support from over 80 companies that make up the working group."

The cost differentials of SATA Vs. PATA in my marketplace are 1.55X for the SATA drive of comparable size but with only a 2 M Buffer (most cost effective for the comsumer) to 1.35X for a more equivalent 8 M Buffer in both HDs.

It seems (of course:rolleyes: ) the Hard Drive OEMs are trying to take a premium for their marginally faster and lower cost SATA. At least while it's a "new" technology and there is a "buzz" about it. The rest of the interested OEMs (Dell, IBM, etc.) see this as a method to reduce costs (box size, cooling requirements due to less power, cabling, etc.; power supply size - which has grown substantially in recent times, etc.) and therefore improve their net $.

I guess my bottom line is if I want a marginal improvement in performance I need to moved to SATA for the few extra $. This impacts the need for a better Motherboard but hopefully worth it in the long run.

Thanks for the assist.


Jim :cool:


Gojyone kawaiiiiiiii!
imo the higher costs of these drives currently isnt worth the minimal performance improvements...and I dont think "long term" for computers. seriously, who keeps and uses a box without upgrading for longer than 2-3 years? In a year or two, use the money saved and buy the 2nd/3rd generation sata drives when they truly provide value/performance.
"What is the long-term road map for Serial ATA?
Serial ATA defines a roadmap starting at 1.5 gigabits per second (equivalent to a data rate of 150MB/s) and migrating to 3.0 gigabits per second (300 MB/s), then to 6.0 gigabits per second (600 MB/s). This roadmap supports up to 10 years of storage evolution, based on historical trends."

--GigaBits to MegaBytes not Gigabytes to Megabytes thats what they are talking about. Gigabits not Gigabytes :)
Yes, exactly, bits. Normally 1.5 Gbits converts to 187.5 Mbytes (1500/8), but because of control signals and other overhead the practical throughput should be somewhere around 150 Mbytes.


hardware monkey
8 bits to 1 byte... so 1.5 gigabits = 187.5 megabytes/sec... but more like 150mb/sec of real-world bandwidth.

[edit] zedric snuck in while i had the window open.
wait, that sounds odd.. :p



Thanks for the enlightenment. Sorry about my math / definition mistake (remember I said I was a "decent competent user who's handy" - but I guess not necessarily deep :eek: ). If I wasn't reading so fast it would have registered as bits & bytes. (Dam that takes me way back to basic registers and stuff.)

However, I would have thought by now the OEMs would all talk in one specification for Hard Drives, and not mix them, so us end users could stay with them.

I guess from a marketing perspective 1.5 gig of anything looks much better that 150 Megs. :confused: Or is it deliberately confusing... Maybe it's just my problem. Thanks again for the assist and education.;)


Late again...

Looking at the application you want to do (Video Editing) I'm going to recommend the opposite of everyone else.

HD suck (PATA or SATA) for moving data and that's exactly what your projected use requires. Take the extra money you would spend for SATA and put it into the highest FSB Intel processor and the most memory you can cram into a PC these days! That will give you the highest throughput for video editing and data compression.

Yes, SATA is cleaner to install and eases case cooling. Theoretically SATA can move data faster than PATA (until the next PATA standard comes out anyway). But it doesn't now, and either one can be configured in a RAID array to use 2 HD to speed transfers. But if you are buying right now there is no guarantee that your hardware (MB or HD) will support future SATA improvements.

Now for the cheap shot...
Remember RAMBUS? Serial architecture, faster than greased lightning, slicker than owl snot and destined to take over all PC desktops! Ooops, it never did. Poor, dumb old DDR is still around and dominating desktops because of price (and stability problems related to the serial interface).

Wait until the SATA miracle has unfolded and prices match or beat PATA. Then buy in cheap. In the mean time, if the MB supports SATA, without carrying a significant price premium, sure go ahead and get it.

Remember where HD prices are going.
Fall 2001 I got a 30 gig for $79.
Fall 2002 I got a 40 gig for $50.
Winter 2003 I got a 60 gig for $60.
Today I saw a 120 gig for $89.
Wish I'd have waited... :(
Originally posted by LeeJend
Now for the cheap shot...
Remember RAMBUS? Serial architecture, faster than greased lightning, slicker than owl snot and destined to take over all PC desktops! Ooops, it never did. Poor, dumb old DDR is still around and dominating desktops because of price (and stability problems related to the serial interface).
And they would have taken over if they hadn't done their "f*ck progress, we want money!" thing. Their licensing and high prices is what killed them afaik. If they had had a similar approach as DDR manufacturers they would probably be one of the bigger players of the market now. But they didn't, and now it's dead.



I just thought I'd advise the final outcome of this post. I did jump to 2 only Maxtor 80 Gig SATA hard drives for the new Box 6 weeks ago and it then cascaded to all the other components. The cost differential PATA Vs. SATA was not too significant when bundled into the new box, and the promise of a faster data transfer via a SATA Raid Array made it an interesting and so far educational choice.

I went with a ASUS P4P800 Deluxe Motherboard as it offered a good combination of performace, flexibility, and cost. I went to a MS-Starforce GeForce4 Ti 4200 (AGP8X) Series Video Card (based on a Nvidia Chip) for similar reasons, and the bonus of Analog Video Capture as well as supposedly decent Gaming (if I ever get time:eek: ).

As suggested by LeeJend I opted for an Intel P4 2.8 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, Hyperthreading with 512 megs (2 X 256) of dual channel double pumping PC3200 DDR Ram. (I couldn't swallow the delta to jump to a 3.0 P4 (double the $) and I can add tons of RAM later as needed (Up to 4 megs - but is there really a documented impact. Is more always that much better? Please advise.)

I filled out the rest of the Box with a couple of optical drives. A Sony DW-U10A (OEM DVD & CD Writer) and with a LG HL-DT-ST GCC-4480 combo drive (DVD Reader / CD Writer) and an IDE Hard Drive Drawer to easily plug in the various drives I've accumulated without taking the box apart. :)

Last Friday I returned the Sony DW-U10A as it never performed as advertised (4X DVD Burning on both + and - Formats) and replaced it with a Plextor PX-708A DVD Multi-Format 8X Burner which (so far) seems a much superior device - faster, better construction, smoother drawer operation, quiter, etc.;)

I have not configured this into the Raid 0 array yet as this technology is new to me and I was eager to get the Box running and play with it :D :D . I'm experimenting with various Drive Image packages to back up the OS (Wndows XP Pro) before moving to a new configuration. I'm not certain I'll use the present image as it may be better to start fresh.

Anyway, I'm ramblin' :eek: . Thanks to all who help me choose the right answer.;)




Gojyone kawaiiiiiiii!
Another idea, I'm not sure how large a space is required for the conversion/editing, but if you really want to maximize performance, load up on as much memory as you can and create a ram disk 1gb?, then do all the editing/work on the ram disk.

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