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Old 1st Dec 2005, 19:17   #1
smids
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SATA-II explained - Revised 17/4/2007

Right, there have been many posts and threads recently asking about 'SATA-II' drives. This is a small explanation of these drives and what SATA-II really is.

SATA-II was the name of the organisation set up to write the specifications of the Serial ATA 2.5/2.6 generation drives and possibly beyond. It is not the name of a new drive standard. However, since the confusion caused by manufacturers of drives naming later drives SATA-II (a practice which is now dying off), they have changed their name to SATA-IO (Serial ATA International Organisation). It is important to note that SATA-II/SATA2 does not actually exist as a new drive standard and is merely a term sometimes used (erronously) to refer to drives which support some of the later SATA features.

Here is a small FAQ regarding SATA, SATA2, SATA-II, etc:

1. How many versions of SATA are there?

- There is currently only one version of the standard simply called 'SATA'. Extensions have been added to this in various generations of the specifications (currently up to generation 2.6) and these include support features such as the 3.0Gbit/s or 300MB/s (see point 4) interface speed, Native Command Queuing (NCQ), staggered spin up to name but a few. These extensions are optional and SATA drives can support as many or few of them as they like. Several suppliers still use the term SATA-II to refer to drives which support one or more of these extensions (particulaly the 3.0Gbit/s interface speed) - contrary to the wishes of the SATA International Organisation. Other companies (Seagate, Western Digital, etc) have now dropped the term.

For a table of the Serial ATA features, please see the table at the base of this mini-FAQ.

2. Is there a different power cable for 'SATA-II'/SATA300 drives or do I need an adapter?

- All SATA drives use the same type of power cable.

3. Is there a different data cable for 'SATA-II'/SATA300 drives?

- All SATA drives use the same type of data cable, regardless of whether they support the 3.0Gbit/s interface speed or not.

4. Why are some drives/controllers listed as SATA 300MB/s whereas others are listed as SATA 3.0Gbit/s? Which one is faster?

- Both are different terms used to refer to the same controller/drive speed. The 3.0Gbit/s rating means 3 Gigabits per second and is the raw speed with which the controller/drives operate at. Due to the 8b10b coding overhead which SATA uses, the actual uncoded transfer-rate is 2.4 Gbit/s which is the same as 300 Megabytes per second. Effectively though, both terms mean the same thing. The same applies to SATA150 compared with SATA 1.5Gbit/s.

5. Will my new 'SATA-II'/SATA300 drive work on my SATA150 controller (and vice versa)?

- All SATA drives should work with all controllers. This includes SATA300 drives working on SATA150 controllers and vice versa.

NOTE: Some SATA150 controllers do not support auto speed negotiation. When using a SATA300 drive with such a controller, it is necessary to change a jumper setting on the drive to force the drive to use the 150MB/s interface speed. The best approach is often to try the drive out and to change the jumper if the drive is not being detected in the BIOS when the system is powered up. Some owners of SATA300 drives may still experience problems however as some older SATA300 drives may require a firmware flash of their drive (in which case the manufacturer will need to be contacted). These issues arose as a result of manufacturer's bridging chip and firmware conflicts. Some drives have no jumpers e.g. Hitachi and require a firmware setting to be changed - see Q7 below. In most cases however, a SATA300 drive should function fine on a SATA150 controller.

6. Will I notice a big performance increase from a SATA300 drive over SATA150 drive with, for example the following extra features: 16MB cache and NCQ?

- No. The 3.0Gbit/s transfer rate would only come into play if you had a controller which supports the full 3.0Gbit/s transfer or a RAID array with probably at least 4 disks - a single 7200RPM drive will have a maximum external transfer rate of about 58MB/s (as opposed to the 300MB/s available). Thus, in single drive configurations, SATA300 drives show no increase over SATA150 or even IDE for that matter seeing as they will all have an external transfer rate of around 55-60MB/s (7200rpm drives only).The only performance increase you will see is through the 16MB cache (should help writing and reading performance) and NCQ (Native Command Queuing) so long as your motherbard supports it. Thus, the performance increase will not be great over SATA150 drives, if at all, depending on features of the specific drive.

7. Will my SATA300 drive work out of the box at the full interface speed of 3.0Gbit/s - I have a compatible motherboard?

- Yes, for the most part. Hitachi drives are slightly different. For compatibility reasons, Hitachi default their drives to 1.5Gbit/s. To enable the 3.0Gbit/s interface speed on Hitachi's, you must download their Feature Tool and enable it from within DOS.

8. Can I run a SATA300 drive with a SATA150 drive and still get the full rate on the SATA300 drive?

- Yes. They will be on separate channels and so long as your SATA controller supports 3.0Gbit/s transfer rate, then they will run as intended. The same applies to combining drives where only one drive supports features such as NCQ as well.

9. How can I tell if my SATA300 drive is running at its intended 3.0Gbit/s, I have full support for it?

- If you have an nForce 4 board with the nF4 SATA drivers installed, the easy way is to look in Device Manager. Look at the properties of the SATA controllers under IDE ATA/ATAPI controller and there is a tab in there which displays either SATA Generation 1-1.5G for SATA150 and SATA Generation 2-2.5 (iirc) for SATA300. Otherwise, please download HDTach. Perform a quick test on the relevant drive and look at the burst speed. SATA150 will max out before 150MB/s but SATA300 will surpass this up to 300MB/s.

The actual specifications for Serial ATA drives can be found in this table:



Notice how many features are actually optional. Thus, ensure you know the actual specifications of the drive before purchasing.

Major thanks to Trippynet for re-writing the sticky to bring it up to date

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Last edited by smids; 17th Jan 2010 at 21:18.
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Old 1st Dec 2005, 20:38   #2
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Nice guide, i'm sure many will find this useful

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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 00:13   #3
chrisheron
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i have just bought a 300gig maxtor sata II drive.Will i see big performance increase?
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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 00:23   #4
smids
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisheron
i have just bought a 300gig maxtor sata II drive.Will i see big performance increase?
That's a good question. What are the spec's - I'll incorporate a question much like this in the guide.

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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 00:32   #5
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3.0Gb SATA II, reliability and great performance
Maxtor creates a new standard with the introduction of the
DiamondMax 10 drive. Its high capacity, enhanced reliability
and great performance combine to make this the perfect drive
for home or office desktop users.
Interface choices
Offers the choice of parallel or serial
interface including the latest 3.0Gb/s
SATA II features and performance.
Serial ATA
The DiamondMax 10 drive incorporates
the latest features of the Serial
ATA interface, with data transfer
rates and functions to accelerate
system performance.
Parallel ATA*
DiamondMax 10 drive is also
available with the industry’s fastest
version of the parallel ATA interface.
The Maxtor-developed Ultra ATA/133
interface maximizes performance
potential by supporting data transfer
rate up to 133MB/sec.
RoHS Compliant
Maxtor supports the EU directive
for Restriction of Hazardous
Substances (RoHS)†. RoHS compliant
versions of DiamondMax
10 are available.
High Performance
DiamondMax 10 SATA drive
supports native command queuing,
which intelligently reorders read
and write commands to improve
performance.
Using larger buffers (8MB on 80GB to
200GB, 16MB on 250GB and 300GB),
the DiamondMax 10 drive delivers
industry-leading benchmarks and
blazing performance.
Delivering reliability
The DiamondMax 10 drives deliver
high reliability and data integrity
using the Maxtor-developed
Shock Protection System™ and
Data Protection System™ to give the
drive enhanced protection against
operating and non-operating shock.
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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 00:52   #6
smids
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The only performance increase you will see is through the 16MB cache and NCQ - Native Command Queuing - so long as your motherbard supports it. The 3.0Gbp/s transfer rate is entirely useless to yourself and would only come into play if you had a RAID array with probably at least 4 disks - a single drive will have a maximum external transfer rate of about 58MB/s (as opposed to the 300MB/s available). Thanks for posing the question though, I'll add something along those lines into the guide.

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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 01:35   #7
chrisheron
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thanks smids.for the info
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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 08:23   #8
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Nice guide there, may be worth adding to the sticky (obviously leave it here floating for a bit to get more comments though) You may want to leave it a bit and then email werewolf and see what he says.

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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 08:42   #9
smids
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exentia
Nice guide there, may be worth adding to the sticky (obviously leave it here floating for a bit to get more comments though) You may want to leave it a bit and then email werewolf and see what he says.
You got anything to add to it? Your last guide was pretty good I must say. Any comments, even stylistic?

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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 08:51   #10
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well content wise youve covered pretty much all of it (and im not the most clued up myself when it comes to SATA so ive had a good read ) stylistic IF it gets added to the sticky all id do is make any links Yellow (so they match mine )

actually just checked youve only got 1 link so hardly worth it

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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 10:23   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisheron
3.0Gb SATA II, reliability and great performance
Maxtor creates a new standard with the introduction of the
DiamondMax 10 drive. ...serial
interface including the latest 3.0Gb/s
SATA II features and performance.


I've had one of those drive for quite a while now, and as far as I'm aware it's a SATA1 not SATA2 drive.

The only option in nvidia's controller properties is Serial ATA Generation 1 - 1.5g and PIO.

I only found this out after buying the drive and was a little miffed to say the least. I had read it was a SATA2 drive. - also, enabling ncq on my drive = swift path to corruption.

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Old 2nd Dec 2005, 10:26   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by totoro
I've had one of those drive for quite a while now, and as far as I'm aware it's a SATA1 not SATA2 drive.

The only option in nvidia's controller properties is Serial ATA Generation 1 - 1.5g and PIO.

I only found this out after buying the drive and was a little miffed to say the least. I had read it was a SATA2 drive. - also, enabling ncq on my drive = swift path to corruption.
afaik there is a sata II diamondmax 10 (ocuk stock it, the 250Gb one) so if what you ordered was supposed to be SATA II....you was robbed!

edit - Just noticed the yellow link Smids nice and uniform!

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Old 3rd Dec 2005, 16:02   #13
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I recently found out Hitachi SATA II drives are set to SATA I. You need to download the "Feature Tool" here to enable SATA II - 3.0 Gb/s. Only do this if you know your motherboard supports it!

Check in Device Manager...


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Old 3rd Dec 2005, 20:03   #14
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Thanks, Ken - I knew about that but forgot to add it to the guide. Will get right on it.

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Old 3rd Dec 2005, 21:51   #15
chrisheron
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just installed my disk maxtor 300 gig sata2

how do i get sata 2? do i use a differebt lead?

driver?
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Old 3rd Dec 2005, 22:16   #16
smids
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisheron
just installed my disk maxtor 300 gig sata2

how do i get sata 2? do i use a differebt lead?

driver?
About the lead - see first post

Driver - now that is an interesting thing. SATA-II features are a hardware thing, so I doubt they can rely on drivers - however, I'm not sure say in the case of NCQ. NCQ requires both hard disk and controller support to function, but does the controller require the driver to use NCQ - can anyone answer this? e.g. in the case of nForce4. I'll innvestigate it myself. A very poignant question...

What motherboard do you have?

EDIT: I believe the situation is that you require drivers for the controller, but without this, you still get the external transfer rate and other features, though NCQ is a sticky one which I will find out about. So plug your drive in, install any drivers your controller requires e.g. nF4 users, install your chipset IDE SW drivers and this will mean that the SATA-II features are present.

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Last edited by smids; 3rd Dec 2005 at 22:23.
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Old 9th Dec 2005, 23:08   #17
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Best to keep this near the top . Any comments/suggestions? Come on people, I need some more feedback, this is for your benefit.

Also, as a follow up to the previous post, does anyone know the answer poised? Do controllers such as nF4 need a driver to utilise NCQ or is it a hardware thing?

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Old 11th Dec 2005, 11:24   #18
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Very informative. Sticky

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Old 11th Dec 2005, 16:44   #19
smids
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeyjojo
Very informative. Sticky
Thanks! . I want to get it as right as possible first, getting corrections etc first before asking Rilot or Werewolf. If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll include it if it helps others.

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Old 11th Dec 2005, 18:02   #20
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Great work! I am torn between two hard drives, check my thread out and help me choose the right HDD

http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/sho...php?t=17508646

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Old 16th Dec 2005, 01:55   #21
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Thanks to bigjonnyauk for giving me a new question and answer - unknowingly.

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Old 16th Dec 2005, 08:31   #22
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good guide thanks - have some stars!!

After reading various arcticles relating to the benefits of SATA-II (Custom PC) I'm a little disappointed reading this. I'm confused as to why the manufacturers are marketing these drives running at 3.0Gbp/s transfer rate. False marketing maybe?

I've recently bought the Samsung spinpoint and i'm still unsure what speed this is running at.. How do you check this?

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Old 16th Dec 2005, 08:34   #23
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[pimp mode]have a look in the sticky theres some hard drive tools at the end of the first post, have a go with HDTach for now see what that gives you. [/pimp mode]

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Old 16th Dec 2005, 11:28   #24
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nice guide, good work

Please read the FAQ regarding signatures
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Old 16th Dec 2005, 11:41   #25
smids
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exentia
[pimp mode]have a look in the sticky theres some hard drive tools at the end of the first post, have a go with HDTach for now see what that gives you. [/pimp mode]
Guys, if you feel uncomfortable with his pimping, let me know - I know the proper authorities. .

But yeah, unless you have a nForce4 board (where you can just check the drivers in Device Manager), the only way to know is something like HDTach. Interesting question though, and will be added to FAQ. Thanks Huddy!

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Old 27th Dec 2005, 21:40   #26
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Any more comments/questions you think need to be included?

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Old 28th Dec 2005, 00:36   #27
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Reading it again I'm not sure if the 3gbps idea is clear enough. Thinking about it, the post seems to be aimed at people with normal sata setups who expect 3gbps out of the box. This creats a bit of confusion for people like me who have never used sata and are looking into sata-II who will get 3gbps without problems. This bit in particular made me think (fifth orange heading):
Quote:
Originally Posted by smids
The 3.0Gbp/s transfer rate would only come into play if you had a controller which supports the full 3.0Gbps transfer...
This (fairly obvious I guess) piece of info is hidden away, but is what people with 3gb mobos or whatever are looking for. Since you explain about 3gb being an optional extra and sata-1 backward-compatility first, this obvious point is slightly overlooked.
I guess I'm suggesting you make it obvious right at the start that people with motherboards that support 3gbps transfer rates will get 3gbps out of their 3gbps drives, phew.
Hasty edit: Or am I completely wrong here? Can drives actually read that much data at 7200rpm?

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Old 28th Dec 2005, 01:05   #28
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Fair enough, I'll look at it again tomorrow and perhaps split the question up. Thanks for the input.

EDIT:

Basically it can be split into parts. No-one will benefit from the increased transfer rate of 300MB/s (aka 3.0Gbp/s) unless they have a RAID0 etc.

A single drive at 7200RPM can only produce about 55-60MB/s. Raptor 10K about 60-75MB/s - depends.

A 3.0gbp/s drive will work on all motherboards with SATA (1 or 2) but may require a jumper setting for SATA1 controllers (to force 150MB/s [aka 1.5gbp/s] transfer rate].

A 3.0gbp/s drive will work just fine on a 3.0gbp/s capable mobo leaving the owner with nothing to do (except Hitachi's which require the full rate to be switched on).

It does make sense to me, but it was aimed at exactly members like yourself, so I haven't done a good enough job. I will fix it to make it more clear.

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Old 30th Dec 2005, 18:26   #29
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That makes sense. I was being silly, sorry .

I do have a question though. Would 4 disks be needed in raid 0 for 3gb/s? Or more? Or fewer? Where do you get 4 from?

Also a good link is this from hardcoreware.net. The benchmarks show your point very nicely.

Good work

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Old 30th Dec 2005, 18:57   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeyjojo
That makes sense. I was being silly, sorry .

I do have a question though. Would 4 disks be needed in raid 0 for 3gb/s? Or more? Or fewer? Where do you get 4 from?

Also a good link is this from hardcoreware.net. The benchmarks show your point very nicely.

Good work
Thanks for the link - I'll include it somehow.

About your question - my answer is that it was really a guestimate. I was thinking about a 4 x 74GB raptor RAID. Each individual raptor can hit about 70Mb/s so 280mb/s in RAID0. Then take inefficiencies into account and you have about 250MB/s average read. As you can see though, you need more than 2 drives to breach the 1.5gbp/s limit of SATA1. My 2 raptor 74GB drives in RAID0 have an average read of 128MB/s.

You can have any number, but the point is that no benefit it reaped over SATA1 from having such a controller/drive unless you use more than 2 disks in a RAID0.

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