Our overview of the SATA II specification a few days ago provided our readers with some insight on what SATA II was really about. In short, SATA II provides updates to the SATA 1.0 specifications including new features and a possible increase in transfer rates from 1.5Gb/sec to 3.0Gb/sec if drive manufacturers decide to implement these features in their products. The new transfer rates depend on what combination of hardware is used to build a drive such as the port multiplier, port selector, cables, and connectors used in a storage system.

The first drives capable of 3.0Gb/sec transfer rates came to our attention a while back but we wanted to see a few other manufacturers show us their offerings before we dug deeper into the supposed higher speed drives. Hitachi was the first to market the SATA II 3.0Gb/sec drive with Samsung and Western Digital following. Samsung was nice enough to send us a test sample to work with and we picked up a Hitachi and Western Digital model in time.

All drives are, of course, SATA II units capable of 3.0Gb/s. The Samsung and Hitachi drives feature Native Command Queuing while Western Digital has decided to leave the feature out. The SATA II standard does not require any of these features but it is always nice to have them in any newly released drive. Our look at Seagate's Barracudas proved that NCQ has no great effect on regular day-to-day tasks so we are not expecting much from the feature this time around. Let's take a look at our testing methods...

Note: To enable 3.0Gb/sec and/or spread spectrum clocking it is required that we download the Feature Tool from Hitachi GST's website. The Feature Tool is a boot time utility and comes in CD ISO and floppy image format.

The Test


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  • 100proof - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    Above post was for Kristopher.. :D Reply
  • 100proof - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    For all intents and purposes the Sata II designation from my original post was used just for familiarity.. This is how these current drives are advertised and sold, but I'm aware of the name change and did happen to catch the Sata-IO article here on AT. :) Thanks for looking out though :) Reply
  • greekfragma - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    I am still waiting for an answer why they didnt install 6.54 chipset drivers packet instead of 6.39 that is last year's............

    hilarious the ending of the article......i post it once more to be more understood with the things i wrote above.

    "In time, however, we should see improvements in drivers to help reach the true potentials for the new SATA standard."

    plz answer
  • sprockkets - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    Nvm, reading their tech docs state it is 1.5gbits per a second, but figure 80% throughput due to its 8b10b encoding and then divide by 8 for the 150MB xfer rate, so it would assume then the new rate is 300MB from a total of 3.0gb per second.

    It has already been proven NCQ does nothing for the desktop at and decreases performance for non server use. Having twice the bandwidth doesn't help whnen these drives put out a constant 40-70MB anyhow, and burst maybe around over a hundred.
  • sprockkets - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    I don't understand why they say 3.0Gb when the old spec was 150MB a second, shouldn't that mean GB instead of Gb? Doesn't the B being capital mean it should be bytes and not the G? Reply
  • Mariosalice - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    The latest WidowsXP64 Nvidia drivers for AMD are 6.39 and for Windows XP32 are 6.53 Reply
  • Mariosalice - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    I would appreciate a SATA II hard disk (raid0 bootable vs single drive vs SATA I)review based on a testbed with dual core Athlon 64, on an nforce4 mobo with windows XP 64 and 6.53 drivers. This is the near future I think.
    As for the tests, just use what you would to compare single vs dual core processors.
    One suggestion. Avast supports 64 bit Windows and you get it for free so you may use it for your tests. Then we may talk how better or not is SATA II compared to SATA I.
  • Olaf van der Spek - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    > You'd be looking at a minimum of four drives in a striped-array to reach those sort of speeds

    Eh, you do know that SATA is point to point by default and that the interface only becomes a bottleneck if port multipliers are being used, do you?
  • PrinceGaz - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    It should be pretty obvious to all regular AT readers that the increased transfer rate of SATA II will have a negligible effect except with striped or other RAID arrays that can offer over about 150MB/s sustained transfer-rate. You'd be looking at a minimum of four drives in a striped-array to reach those sort of speeds, which is not something most people have. All SATA II does with these drives in any normal situation is allow them to transfer data to and from their 8MB cache a bit quicker, which isn't going to make any noticeable real-world difference.

    I don't have an nVidia chipset so your using the v6.39 chipset drivers didn't mean anything to me, but if they are as old as some here have said, it does throw a big question-mark over whether the results would be the same with the latest drivers.

    As for the benefits of NCQ and the apparent disadvantages of it in many of the tests in this report, all I'll say is Pentium D and Athlon 64 X2. All the disk-intensive multi-tasking benchmarks with those showed major gains with NCQ enabled drives, because the processor was requesting totally seperate data simultaneously while running two threads, whereas a single-core CPU is only running a single task at once and therefore is never truly multi-tasking.

    Good review though, all the graphs worked for me. I'm happy with my Maxtor drives which (touch wood) have served me flawlessly for many years and I've never had a single failure. It's tempting fate saying that but I recently backed everything important up so a drive throwing in the towel wouldn't be a total nightmare.

    I still maintain the major advantage of SATA (I or II) is the smaller cables. I look forward to building my next box where the only ribbon cables have to be routed up to the optical drives.
  • KristopherKubicki - Sunday, June 26, 2005 - link

    100proof: Have you read

    SATAII is a myth....


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