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SATA Referendum

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January 17, 2006 3:46:28 PM

In this hard drive section, everybody and his brother is having problems with SATA drives. It feels like 75% of this forum is about SATA issues, with Maxtor drives in the forefront. This is shocking to me from the IDE side of Maxtor, in which I've not seen a failure in about 400-500 of them personally installed by me.

I think it's time for an "expert" to put together a white paper, or a report on the subject.

I can't do it because of lack of experience with the topic. Virtually all my techie stuff is office related with almost all IDE drives (couple of SCSI's). And I've never done a comprehensive research task on SATA. But it looks like the future of hd's.

All those issues I keep seeing are saddening.

More about : sata referendum

January 17, 2006 7:20:34 PM

I'm not surprised actually.

When a relatively new technology comes out that can potentially replace another technology your going to have problems.

My reasoning is that with a new technology such as a HDD, you need newer technology to support it. For example, the new need for SATA connectors and SATA power cables. Another example is the need for other hardware to support this HDD, it's not independent. Everything works off everything else. So with this technology becoming more available and other hardware not keeping up your going to have problems.

A second reason is with a new technology, again relatively new, people need to get some experience under their belt with how it works. Software wise as well as hardware wise.

So to me it's not surprising, this happens with new technologies where it's counterparts are still behind the times. Soon enough SATA will be second nature with regards to hard drives and people will find it easier to use with updated technology and other people with experience.
January 18, 2006 1:00:16 AM

People sees SATA drives as monster or aliens. But in fact, they are simply plain IDE hdd. IDE. SATA is only the interface. The wire, the cable,.. that link together and IDE drive with an IDE controller.

Why the confusion? Easy. When SATA drives appears on the market, chipset were not equipped to natively support that new interface. So, motherboard started to use onboard third party controller. Most of them came from RAID card chipset controller, but stripped down to lower the price. So, the first SATA/RAID controller were the base to start from to have SATA. In order to operate, third party controller needs drivers. So, F6 has to be used in order to load third party drivers. But sisnce RAID and SATA mode both needs drivers.. then SATA=RAID=drivers inthe head of more and more people.. This is simply not true. Newer chipset, that started to emerge after the SATA interface show up now support SATA interface natively. What that means? To put is simple, you plug the frigging drive and it works. Unless RAID is enabled in BIOS. Then this is where trouble begin.. Manufacturer, like Gigabyte, don't make a smart choice by enabling RAID for the SATA interface in BIOS. Since most has no clue about SATA, and since SATA=RAID=drivers, then they use drivers.. with one drive.. and complained about corruption and SATA problem. My nforce4 gigabyte has RAID enabled in BIOS. a quick trip in the BIOS to disable RAID simply make the drive to show up with other IDE device that was in my system and XP installed right on, without F6. Smart move Gigabyte.. since most has no clue about SATA and RAID, why not simply set the thing normal, so those that has more knowledge to use RAID could anyway set up the thing right in BIOS.

Then the SATAII confusion. There is a difference in the way the SATA and SATAII interface establish connection. Most HDD has a jumper to set the drive as SATA or SATAII. But, since almost nobody takes the time to look at the label on the drive, that show up the drivers that need to be moved for proper operation depending of the SATA interface capability of the controller, problem soon appears. Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung and many other has the jumper. Hitachi are smart. very smart. They decided to set the drive as SATA compatible, and requier you to do a little search in order to enable SATAII mode. What that mean, simple. The most noob would install this drive on a SATA controller and will make it working. With another drive that requiere you to move the jumper from SATAII mode to SATA, he'll be here posting about his motherboard not detecting the drive and started bashing about the drive being bad or the motherboard.. But the problem is simply him..

So, to make a short story, 90% are mostly user errors.. When people will simply start to carefully read their manual (not just looking at it, but actually read it.. word by word, from the first to the last) and read labels, then the RMA of good material will dramatically decrease..
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January 18, 2006 10:02:51 AM

Hell, 90% of the questions are from guys that don't know you need to disable RAID mode. 60% of them don't even believe you when you tell them that. And 90% of the responders tell them they need a driver floppy!

You have one hell of a task ahead of you, it's like trying to tell most mechanics that a 255/60 tire is wider than a 225/50
January 18, 2006 12:04:35 PM

Don't forget that, since they started to install as RAID, RAID metadata is written to the HDD. Now, they realised their mistake, switch to normal IDE operation, but the RAID metadata is confusing the controller, and they might have some problem getting the drive to work stable because of that.. Ahhh, the wonderful world of noob...

As for the tire, I can understand that the 225/50 may look wider, but.. did you try the rule and have the actual measure in front of them??
January 18, 2006 12:45:47 PM

As for the tire, I keep telling mechanics that the big number is the actual width across the sidewall in millimeters. Yes, it's possible for the shorter, narrower tire to have a wider tread because of less sidewall bulge, but that's not always the case.

When I finally get a mechanic to conceed, he says "That's just because the metric system screwed it up" And then they don't believe me when I tell them in the old letter system, an N60 was always wider than an L50...

And this all started when I was building up my Pinto for drag racing. I got the car when I was 12... I wanted to go modern with low profile tires in front to keep sway with the larger engine to a minimum, using tiny little 205/50-15's rather than the stock 185/70-13's, and big huge N60's in the rear (roughly a 295/60 as far as I can remember), but mechanics kept telling me kids didn't know anything and I would be "stupid to put the wider tire in front".
January 18, 2006 1:19:58 PM

Quote:
It's not all the fault of Users.

At the ASUS User Forum for the P5WD2 Premium,
we have struggled thru many SATA problems, and
we confirmed that the User Manual fails completely
to inform the builder that [AHCI] also requires
the F6 sequence during Windows install.

So, Users typically enable the [AHCI] BIOS option,
but fail to do the F6 sequence -- BECAUSE THE
MANUAL FAILS TO MENTION IT FOR THIS MODE --
and that's only the beginning of their problems,
after making that error.

That Manual contains the wrong URLs to Intel's
website; we found the correct URLs which clarify
these issues considerably e.g. Intel recommends
[RAID] mode for maximum flexibility.

Also, that same User Manual provides exactly
BACKWARDS advice about cabling Ultra DMA
40-pin/80-conductor IDE cables (believe it or
not): so, Users end up wiring MASTER jumpers
to the middle connector, and leave the end
connector dangling: WRONG!! This is sure
to cause signaling problems on that cable.

Moreover, it should contain a line or two to inform
the User that 2 on-board controllers require a
separate driver which is not automatically
available on the Windows installation CD.
Those drivers are available on the ASUS
Support CD.


you have to understand that buying an Asus motherboard now is an user error at first. Asus has been able to screw the nforce4 and most of their newer Intel board by wacky BIOS and poor engennering. I was tempted t include Asus and user errors for the most part of SATA problem.. but let down the Asus part at the end.. I should have not
Quote:

Another complicating factor is that Hitachi
requires a "Feature Tool" to override the
factory default of 150 MB/second, in order
to get 300 MB/second at the interface.


This is not a complicating factor, but a cost reducing factor. Can you imagine the lot of fully functionnal drives that are sent for RMA just because some noob doesnt have a clue about what they are doing and installed the drive on a SATA controller and found it not working. Will it read the label and set the jumper or simply tell the drive is bad and ask for a replacement?

And who pay for all those RMA for nothing? US!.. Yes, you, me and all who buy stuff from online retailer or shop. servicing good unit cost something, and it is US that wil pay the price at the end. So, don't make me cry about those poor noob, They cost me money. Because the prices are raising and that cut profit that I can make on system I sell.

Quote:


HERE'S OUR SUGGESTION FOR THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY:

Agree on a standard like the one established for
Serial Presence Detect ("SPD") in DDR DIMMs, and
program chipsets to configure SATA HDDs
automatically.

Manufacturers are not required to incorporate
any particular feature in "SATA-II", and that's
why Intel proposed SATA-2.5.

If Plug-and-Play is going to work with every
brand of SATA HDD, regardless of features present
and not present, then it needs to be automated
following along the lines recommended above.


Computer Power User ("CPU") magazine for
February 2006 has an excellent article on these
various features -- that may or may NOT be
available in any new SATA-II HDD.


I hope this helps.


Sincerely yours,
/s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell
Webmaster, Supreme Law Library
http://www.supremelaw.org/



Why, users cannot make their own route and do some research. Or read label, or manual. Why does the industry always have to make the thing stupid proof. I started making computer way before the Internet being implemented in the way we know it today. You don't have any idea about all the steps that were necesary in order to get technical information.. And all we had was manual and labels...

Now, www.google.com and type in your query. You'll likely to have the answer to any technical question yo may have. Building a computer by ourself is a 3 steps operation. learn about the hardware, assemble the hardware and install the software. Troubleshooting can be inserted between the second and third part, but if you gather any informations about your component before assembling it, you'll likely to have no problem. Hey, you can even download the manual online, right after you put your order, and start learning about your motherboard before actually getting it!! Isn't that great?


Anyway, I still have to get DOA parts that fails to work at first start. I have a collection of downloaded manual for all kind of board. Some that I've used and other that I plan to use. Industry is giving us the tools we need to make succesful build. It is up to you to use them.. or get a Dell.
January 18, 2006 1:41:20 PM

SATAII is as plug nplay than SATA. The difference is how the interface is negociating the connection. I see nothing wrong about having to move a jumper or updating a firmware. It has been done since years with master/slave config or firmware in optical devices..

And there are noobs that would like to know and those that don't want.. those who don't want cause much more cost to the industry that the one that are willing to learn.

I will most likely help those that will learn something that explaining what's already written in the manual to someone that did not make the effort to read it first.
!