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  • titte - Wednesday, February 22, 2006 - link

    I would strongly discourage from buing a disk from Maxtor. I recently bought a 250gig Maxline III but the disk fails to work with my nForce-chipset. The disk works ok on other machine and it's not a driver issue since Maxtors boot ISO fails to read/write to the disk. There is an article about the issue here"> and i also found an issue in the maxtor knowledgebase (can't seem to find it anymore though). This would be ok if maxtor support was up to the task but their resonses are almost autogenerated answers like "reinstall drivers". My problem description clearly states that drivers has been reinstalled and drive fails even when started from their diagnostics boot CD.... Reply
  • darksage429 - Thursday, October 14, 2004 - link

    Two questions:
    If you were to run them in RAID-0, would it beat Raptor's RAID-0 performance?


    Would NCQ benefit those running Bittorrent?
  • Kaido - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    Raptor + NCQ + 16mb cache = $250 *I'm* willing to pay :D

    So is this going to be an Intel-only thing like Hyperthreading, or will it be available on AMD motherboards a64 with this Maxtor hard drive would be sick! :)
  • Kaido - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    33 - I believe the article on Storage Review specifically stated that they will be doing an NCQ article in the near future, once they get all the necessary hardware in. Reply
  • quanta - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    I read the storagereview's article, but it did not test drive's NCQ capability. Rather, it only tested 'non-native' TCQ. Reply
  • DerekWilson - Sunday, June 27, 2004 - link

    The arguement is still that NCQ will be more helpful the more multi-tasking oriented our systems become.

    As for me, I sure could use it right now. I'm always playing MP3s, editing large sound and image files (photoshop is an insane resource hog), copying files between drives, and opening huge PDF, PPT and Word documents (I really wish marketing people would realize that we don't need print quality images in our online presentations). Most of the CDs I use everyday are actually images on my drive that I mount using Daemon Tools.

    I would also argue that everything is HD limited. Whenever you power up, open a program, or open a large file that little hourglass alwasy rears its ugly head. Sure, once everything gets shuffled off into RAM things are fine, but that wait time is still the most annoying bottleneck in my system. And if you've ever wanted to open or copy more than one file or program at a time, then there's an argument for NCQ.
  • Pariah - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link

    "The raptor has TCQ, which is basically the same, but in the raptor's case, it is actually an ATA implementation. TCQ has been around for awhile, originally from SCSI."

    Without going into the technical differences, which nobody probably cares about, the Raptor TCQ is quite different from SATA II NCQ. While SATA II NCQ is actually closer to current SCSI TCQ than the Raptor legacy ATA TCQ is. TCQ is a rather generic term used to describe a whole bunch of different schemes. NCQ is just a name used to describe the new form of TCQ used in SATA.

    "Both Intel and AMD are banking the future of their microprocessor designs heavily on a shift towards more multithreaded/multitasking usage patterns."

    It would appear to be more the other way around. Intel and AMD aren't betting on that, they really don't have a choice, and everyone else will have to adapt to that whether they like it or not. Intel has seen there is a limit to how fast you can push the clockrates of current CPU tech before the heat and power requirements exceed what is practical for users. In comes Pentium M, out goes Tejas. You can't compare CPU development to hard drive development because they don't run in parallel (no pun intended). There are quite a few CPU limited applications for home users even today, while there are very few HD limited applications, and even fewer scenarios where any of us would be running multiple such applications. For TCQ/NCQ to be effective, a user truly has to be hammering their drives and that is a rare occurence and unlikely to be for any length of time.

    There's a reason it has taken so long for the technology to reach ATA, and it has nothing to do with the evolution of the home user. One form of TCQ has been in PATA for years, but no one every used it because there was no use for it in the home. There still isn't, the difference now is that ATA, and more specifically SATA, is moving into the lowend enterprise and server markets which DO benefit from such technologies. The ability to use SATA drives on upcoming SAS controllers is further evidence that the markets are blurring a bit in the middle between ATA and SCSI. The needs of users haven't changed, nor are they, the target markets for the technologies have changed.

    "Right now I've got an IM client, an email client, a handful of browsers, Excel, Word, a calendar app, Photoshop and iTunes running. Of those, I'm concurrently managing tasks in the browser, MP3 player and Mail applications."

    Yup, those are some pretty hardcore HD usage applications. I bet you can just hear your drive grinding away under that workload.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link


    TCQ won't be nearly as widely used as NCQ on the desktop, I expect the Raptor to be the only desktop SATA drive to support it; as far as I know, no chipset manufacturer is planning on including TCQ support in their south bridges.


    NCQ, like Hyper Threading, improves performance in multitasking situations and not in single thread, single application scenarios. Both Intel and AMD are banking the future of their microprocessor designs heavily on a shift towards more multithreaded/multitasking usage patterns. I would tend to agree that this is a fairly logical progression for PCs to take. Already today we do some fairly heavy multitasking on PCs. Right now I've got an IM client, an email client, a handful of browsers, Excel, Word, a calendar app, Photoshop and iTunes running. Of those, I'm concurrently managing tasks in the browser, MP3 player and Mail applications. Start adding media encoding (which will happen once more people start using their PCs as media servers as well as work/play machines), multiuser environments (e.g. someone using the computer to play a game while someone else uses the same system to work in Word) through technologies like Vanderpool and then you have a clear benefit to technologies like NCQ and Hyper Threading. I'd honestly be curious to see the impact of NCQ on Media Center systems, I'd expect there to be a sizable performance boost - the only difficult part is measuring performance to be able to put into a graph.

    Take care,
  • brentpresley - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link

    74GB raptor is TCQ, as this document shows:

    Still, it would have been nice to compare the raptor running tcq w/ the maxtor ncq. Both are next-gen desktop technologies.
  • dmxlite - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link

    The raptor has TCQ, which is basically the same, but in the raptor's case, it is actually an ATA implementation. TCQ has been around for awhile, originally from SCSI. The problem with the Raptor is it is not a 'real' SATA drive. It is a ATA drive with a SATA bridge, which at the time only offers the benefits of the smaller SATA cabling and such.
    To get a better impression of Raptor vs. MaXLine III, you'll have to use a controller that supports both, like the Promise FastTrak TX4200. Here is a good article on TCQ and it advantages (using the Raptor):
  • skiboysteve - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link

    anand, the raptor has NCQ.... Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link

    Does using NCQ increase disk-related CPU load? Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Saturday, June 26, 2004 - link

    I'm more in agreement with Operandi on this review: Sure, there are instances where NCQ hurts performance (although we need to remember that this is just one implementaion of NCQ on the SATA chips: Intel's), but overall, I would easily take one of these drives over a Raptor. Performance is pretty close, but three or four times the capacity for most likely the same price? Come on, who wouldn't take the increased storage?

    I'm just a little more than surprised that the largest 10000+ RPC drives are still stuck at such low densities. You can only find a couple 147 GB 10000 RPM SCSI drives, and no 15000 RPM drives that I'm aware of hold more than 74 GB. Give me a 10000 RPM drive with 100 GB platters, and then we're talking! (Wishful thinking for a few more years, I'd imagine.)

    Anyway, the benefit of NCQ is going to depend largely on the bottleneck. Some things are CPU limited, in which case it won't help, at least not yet. Compression is a great example of this. If you had a multi-core or SMP setup and the compression was single-threaded, then NCQ could help out more. Other tasks are going to be limited by the sustained transfer, i.e. file copying. However, if you multitask file copying by, for example, copying two large files between drives at the same time, then sustained transfer rate is only part of the bottleneck, with access time being the other part. NCQ is designed to help improve access times, but even in the best case scenarios, it's not going to be tons faster.

    IIRC, technologies like NCQ (which have been in SCSI for ages, via the split-transaction bus) usually don't hurt performance much and can periodically improve performance a lot. I don't know if this has changed much, but I remember seeing my boss start four or five applications at the same time on a SCSI workstation, and they loaded TONS faster than those same applications loaded on my non-SCSI system.

    I've become so used to the bottlenecks in IDE systems that I usually avoid trying to launch multiple applications at the same time. I'd be interested to see some benchmarks in that area, i.e. launching Photoshop, Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer at the same time with and without NCQ. Yeah, it's a short-term bottleneck, but at times such delays are irritating.
  • pxc - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

  • FacelessNobody - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    So based on what I've read, NCQ (and HyperThreading, for that matter) are techologies aimed at improving computer performance in specific situations. I suppose in discussion they sound short-sighted--helping only a few people some of the time. However, it wasn't long ago that 3D accelerators were the same way. The idea could still tank, computers may not go the way forseen in Intel's crystal ball, so it's a leap of faith developing techology like this, and that's why Intel tries so hard to push things like PCI Express and BTX.

    I'm a bottom line person. Like Pariah (whose criticism has been excellent), I'd like a definitive statement telling me what improves by how much and how it affects me. The more I look into it though, it doesn't seem a thing like NCQ can give me that. My computer use (gaming, word processing, music) is affected more by raw power than anything else.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link


    Throughout the article we stated whenever the performance impact due to NCQ was positive, negative as well as whether or not it was negligible.

    A 10% performance improvement is often our rule of thumb for perceivable performance impact. A number of companies have done studies that basically state a 10% impact is noticeable to the end user and we tend to agree.

    Your example of a 30 -> 33 fps performance increase is a valid one, but if we're talking about measuring average frame rates I'd argue that a 10% increase in average frame rate could be very noticeable depending on the rest of the frame rates over the test period. Remember that with our Winstone tests we are measuring the time it takes to complete a task, and a 10% improvement in time savings is nothing to cast aside.

    Performance improvement down the road due to NCQ is far from a guess in my opinion. The fact that Intel has integrated support for it into their new ICH6 and given how hard they have been pushing for the type of multithreaded/multitasking usage environments for the future should lend decent credibility to Intel seeing NCQ as a worthwhile feature. Again, look at the direction that even AMD is going when it comes to CPU design - the focus continues to be on multithreading/multitasking usage environments which, as long as you are doing so across more than one application, result in much more "server-like" disk access patterns than what we have currently.

    As the PC architecture moves into the next phase of parallelism (moving beyond instruction level parallelism to thread/application level parallelism) it's inevitable that hard drive usage patterns do get a bit more random. Definitely not as much as servers, but definitely more than they are now.

    Again I'll state that an improvement of 10% in a very realistic test is something that I'm sure any user would gladly have for free with their hard drive. It's very much like Hyper Threading; the performance differences are sometimes slightly negative or nothing at all, but in some very real world (albeit hard to benchmark) scenarios the performance improvement is undeniably evident.

    Take care,
  • nourdmrolNMT1 - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link


    there is a key word in the conclusion, it is called, potential, read it, the 6 line, 8th word. A lot of the conclusion is based around the future, and what NCQ can do in the future, it says that in todays world you get slight increase, but as computers become more multithreaded NCQ will increase performance.

    p.s. dont go getting you panties in a wad over an article on an HD.

  • Pariah - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    "In terms of our excitement about NCQ, the conclusion never stated that NCQ increased performance tremendously across the board."

    It also never stated that in 15 out of the 16 real world tests you ran, the improvement was anywhere from a 1% improvement to 4.9% reduction in performance, with the majority of tests showing a decrease in performance. That wouldn't seem to be a minor point to just gloss over and ignore in the conclusion, don't you think?

    "But also remember that we only had three heavy-multitasking benchmarks, and the performance boost we saw in one of them (a very common scenario, who doesn't copy a file and browse the net or check email?) was nothing short of outstanding."

    10.2% is considered outstanding? Most people would consider a 10% improvement to be about the bare minimum necessary to invoke a perceptible difference in speed for hard drives. I wouldn't call the performance of a card getting 33fps in Far Cry vs a card getting 30fps (the same 10% difference) to be "outstanding."

    That's not to say that NCQ cannot actually provide outstanding performance. It most certainly can. Storage Review's server benchmarks show comparable 10k SCSI drives beating the Raptor by 30%+ and 15k drives just crushing it while only running neck and neck in workstation marks. But the fact remains, that those server benchmarks in no way mirror what us "ordinary folk" can duplicate on our home systems.

    So, again, while we may be able to develop scenarios where NCQ will make a big difference, none of the tests run in this review came anywhere close to displaying those capabilities unless you consider a minimal perceptible difference in one test to be "outstanding." I would take a slightly more subdued approach in the conclusion that tells what the tests actually show and how they would benefit people today, rather than hyping something you weren't able to show and are only guessing might improve in the future.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link


    Only the game tests used two drives, all of the other tests had the OS and the applications on the same drive.

    I don't believe that a large buffer negates the advantages of NCQ, as they largely address two different problems. Large buffers help mostly with sequential transfers while NCQ is geared towards improving random access performance; if anything they are complementary.

    You bring up a very good point, the benefit of NCQ could (in theory) be better seen with more fragmentation on a drive. Unfortunately it is difficult to construct a repeatable test involving fragmentation that's real world, I can easily do it in synthetic benchmarks though. That being said, we shouldn't need NCQ to improve fragmented performance - that's what defrag programs are for :)

    Take care,
  • broberts - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    While the the article stresses that the tests attempt to duplicate real world conditions I noticed that, at least for the one benchmark, the o/s is on a separate drive. IMO most "real world" systems contain one drive, or at least one logical drive (RAID). Having the o/s and swap file on the same drive would, I suspect (and even with 1GB of RAM which is a little over the top), tend to highlight the difference between NCQ and TCQ performance.

    NCQ should only make a real difference when disk head movement is the bottleneck. A test such as loading a big program isn't going to really test anything unless the program is fragmented or some o/s activity (like swapping) concurrently takes place on the drive.

    I also wonder how much of the advantages of NCQ are negated by the bigger cache? 16MB in a desktop environment is significant. It may well account for the closeness of the numbers reported.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the responses guys, we're committed to making our storage coverage top notch on par with the articles in our other sections so it's going to take lots of constructive criticism to make sure we're providing that; keep it coming.

    You've already noticed that there were no sound/heat tests in the article. We got great response from the MP3s I posted of the drives in our first HDD roundup under the new suite, but we're still lacking a good quantitative way of comparing the sound levels of these hard drives. In the worst case scenario I could always just use a trusty SPL meter, but I want to do something a little more useful. Give me another week or so and I'll see if I can't at least have a prototype of what I'm trying to do.

    In terms of our excitement about NCQ, the conclusion never stated that NCQ increased performance tremendously across the board. But also remember that we only had three heavy-multitasking benchmarks, and the performance boost we saw in one of them (a very common scenario, who doesn't copy a file and browse the net or check email?) was nothing short of outstanding. NCQ is sort of like Hyper Threading in the sense that it doesn't improve performance by 20% across the board, but in a few very real world scenarios, the performance boost is nothing short of impressive. And as workloads become more parallelized in nature, we'll continue to see bigger benefits from NCQ. For current sequential desktop applications, NCQ doesn't do anything at all; but remember that AMD and Intel are both going down the multicore CPU route for a reason - desktop usage patterns are changing. We're very excited about NCQ as a technology because it anticipates that changing environment and definitely improves performance in it.

    Will you see a performance boost from NCQ today? If you're a heavy multitasker at all, then yes. Otherwise, no. Just ask yourself, how many times have you copied a file while doing other things in the background. A 10% performance gain in that one test is much more than any other real world hard drive performance improvement we've seen in recent history.

    Take care,
  • Operandi - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    I thought it was a pretty good article. I don't know where your people are coming from saying sounds like Maxtor PR paper. It may not be as fast as the raptor but then again it's a 250-300 gig drive not 74, fair trade if you ask me.

    As far as noise goes it should be identical to Diamond Max series. There is no reason for it to be any louder, aside from the 16 meg buffer and NCQ the drive is most likely identical mechanically.
  • GhandiInstinct - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    So, I am also curious, how loud is it? How much will it cost?

    MaxLine or Raptor?

    Seems to me, as a gamer, Raptor won in all the gaming related benchmarks.
  • Pariah - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    I agree with #11. I got the same impression aftering reading the conclusion which didn't seem to take any of the rest of the article into account. The conclusion seemed to be based in wishful thinking of what he had wanted to see, rather than being based on the numbers his article actually produced, which were not nearly as positive.

    The Raptor does not support NCQ. It supports the old ATA TCQ which is inferior in its implementation. However, looking at the lackluster performance of NCQ, it's not hard to believe the even worse #'s that StorageReview just posted on the Raptor's TCQ performance in workstation benchmarks.

    Also, the 7200.7's do not support NCQ either. Seagate announced a new version of the 7200.7 that will, but has not reached the market yet.
  • Jeff7181 - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    What would make it any louder than Maxtor's other 7200 RPM drives? I doubt they'd go back to using ball bearings and noisy servo's just to give us NCQ. Reply
  • T8000 - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    It would indeed be interesting to see how other drives that support NCQ, like the Seagate and the Raptor 74 GB would benefit from it.

    Altough, I am not sure if the Raptor has NCQ or TCQ, but that could make it even more interesting, as NCQ and TCQ could be compared.
  • QuaiBoy - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    This article reads like Maxtor promotional copy, giving the Maxtor high praise in tests where it fails to even outpace it's 7200RPM competition. Also, like #9 said, how loud is it? Vibration? Heat? Interesting omissions to the article... bet it sounds like a jet turbine given my past experiences with Maxtor. Reply
  • bwall04 - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    I'm not sure why this was overlooked but the 74GB Raptor supports NCQ. I think it would paint a clearer picture of the performance of NCQ and situations where it is beneficial if the review could be edited to add in these results.
    Kudos to Maxtor for stepping up with something to compete with my Raptors, and with 3x the storage!!
  • jcromano - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    How loud is it? Reply
  • araczynski - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link


    if ncqprice <= raptorprice then
    ncqproduct = possiblesuccess
    whocares = 1

    I would say forget the spinning crap alltogether, why aren't we advnacing the solid state field storage? like that HyperDrive3 thing mentioned on the forums, THAT'S something to drool about.
  • Da3dalus - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    I wanna see a Raptor with that 16MB buffer ;)
    I'm not gonna put a Maxtor drive in my comp again no matter what they come up with, bad previous experiences...
  • Demon - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    The Seagate 7200.7 does support NCQ.

    "The Barracuda 7200.7 is the industry's first hard drive family capable of supporting SATA Native Command Queuing (NCQ)"
  • apriest - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    #4, I believe the drive has to support NCQ as well. Doesn't the Raptor support NCQ though? Reply
  • Zar0n - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    Why did u not benchmark Seagate 7200.7 with NCQ enabled?

    1GB of ram? Most users have 256mb or 512mb.

    What is the technical explanation for some many tests being slower with NCQ?
  • AnnoyedGrunt - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    Hmmm, I thought the conclusion in this article gave too much credit to NCQ as far as boosting performance. It helped in one test which has significant multi-tasking, and that is by no means a bad thing, but I do wonder how often that scenario would arise. It seems to me that the human operating the computer would have a hard time keeping that many activities occuring @ the same time. Also, the Hitachi drive (as well as the other 7200 RPM drives) were all usually quite close in performance to the new Maxtor. Finally, in the game loading tests, the Raptor still had a significant lead, which is somewhat dissapointing for me since that is my main concern and I was hoping the Maxtor would do better in that arena.

    Well, I'll check out the storagereview article to see how that turned out.

  • Sivar - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    Hmm. The results using a Promise TCQ controller were quite different (See's latest review). Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    Well it had to happen sometime... competition for the Raptor. Reply

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