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Late 2003-era eSATA OK for new SATA HD?

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June 17, 2009 7:26:14 PM

(After searching here on THW I can't find an answer so must post a long question. I hope you can take the time to read and comment… if so, thanks, in advance!)

Anyone know if the Intel mobo 875DPZ (late 2003) will still support a modern (2009) SATA drive for the C: (OS) drive? I know this is a SATA v1 controller at half-SATA v2 speeds. Also, please note that this is Intel's own mobo with their 875 chipset.

It is amazing that this machine still runs so well. I have updated the processor to 3.4 (P4 478 socket) and the BIOS is the latest, released about 2005 or 2006. I run 3Gig RAM as two 512s and two 1Gig sticks from sources like Corsair. The AGP limits me, too. This machine runs WinXP Home SP2 and is the living room desktop used for Adobe CS4,web surfing, elementary teaching prep, image databasing, scanning, printing server for the commonly used printers here, and, finally, my daughter's SIMS3 install. I have few games and don't have time to play that kind of graphics-intensive material, anyway. She says she is OK with the current nVidia card (7600-level chips, I think…) I have the Intel gigabit Ethernet card so don't depend on on-board chipset for that, either.

However, I have plans to upgrade some more before buying or building a new machine when Win7 is stable and perhaps USB3 is on motherboards. There may be an upcoming Intel chip worth planning for, too. I have not done enough research on that to say for sure, although the recent four-core vs. three-core vs. two-core article/review here on the site was a good start. (I do wish I didn't have to wait, though.)

I have an older WD 160 as the C: drive. I am considering two moves now:
1. Upgrade the WD160 C: drive to a Seagate v12 5-year HD capacity SATA 500 or SATA 1TB. Perhaps this will provide easier transition to next computer mobo which will not have EIDE.
2. Try out Vista Business on this Intel P4 mobo and see if it will run with acceptable speed. One reason: easier networking with my Vista Business Lenovo laptop and, I hope, easier networking with my wife and daughter's MacBooks. (Leopard OS10.5.) I already own a legal Business DVD for install. I do not care about Vista's fancier graphics, so will operate with those routines turned off.

I took note of a super well-documented post about switching OS between controllers here on Tom's. Thank you to that poster.

So:
Any comments about depending on the SATA v1 chipset from Intel late 2003?

jonathan7007
a b G Storage
June 17, 2009 9:55:26 PM

875DPZ has only PATA, no SATA ports. To get SATA (1.5 or 3.0Gbps) you'll have to buy a cheap add-in PCI card (make sure it's bootable if you plan to boot Windows off it).
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a c 329 G Storage
June 18, 2009 7:07:01 PM

It certainly should work with SATA drives of any size. If you've run into notes about trouble with large drives (over 130 GB), don't worry. Drives over 130 GB require what's called "48-bit LBA Support", and ALL SATA devices of any age (controllers and HDD units) have that. You also have it in your SP2 version of Win XP Home, so no worries.

The only trick is the SATA vs SATAII matter. Almost all SATA drives sold now are SATAII, but the makers anticipate that lots of customers will have your situation. Most have some way to force the drive to work only as a SATA (original slower speed) drive - just check out their websites ahead of time to get the details. In Seagates' case, most of their new drives have a small jumper block on the back which has nothing to do with the old Master / Slave thing from IDE drives. They usually arrive with a jumper installed on 2 pins to set the drive to the slower speed by default, so that people like you can use it with no change (but check that). People who know their controller does SATAII can simply remove the jumper. Other drive makers have some way to do this, too. I have seen some makers who provide a software tool you use to change some data bits on the HDD itself, and there are other methods. Just check the website of the HDD you are considering to be sure you are comfortable with how it works.

Once you get the new HDD, I suspect you will want to clone your existing 160 GB drive onto the new one so it can take over the C: boot drive function, and relegate your 160 GB to a data drive. Again, check the HDD maker's website for free downloadable tools for this common function. Actually, if you buy a Retail packaged unit, those tools may already be on a CD included with it, but see what the website specs say. Be aware that these utilities usually only will make a clone TO a hard drive from that company - they don't care whose old drive you have been using before. Seagate has a tool called Disk Wizard that you download and install on your (old) hard drive and run from there. With it you tell it where is the Source and Destination drives (make sure you get this one right!), and you will want the Destination to be made as a bootable Primary Partition, probably using the entire HDD capacity for one large volume (you can choose otherwise) and using the NTFS File System. Other makers have similar tools - WD's is called Data Lifeguard. If you can't find a utility package that way, look for a free trial version of Acronis True Image, which is really quite powerful with lots of tools - you'll have to look through its manual to find the cloning tools for setting up a brand new drive.

When you have made the clone, you shut down, disconnect the power, open up the case, and swap SATA data cables to connect the new drive to the port that should be the C: boot drive, and the old drive to another port. Close up and reboot, and both drives should be there, with your big new one showing up as C: with about 465 GB space.

Back up a little, I said, "you download and install on your (old) hard drive and run from there." I learned this the hard way by doing it wrong. The CD I had with Seagate's Disk Wizard was bootable itself, and you could boot from it and run the software. However, I discovered in that scenario the software had no way of knowing whether or not your OS on the old hard drive had 48-bit LBA Support included (as SP2 does). To prevent you from creating an unusable clone, it limited you to the older system that only allows hard disk volumes up to 128 GB (by Microsoft's counting system). On the other hand, if the software is installed on your hard drive and run from there under your existing Windows, it knows the full capabilities and does not impose that limit. Although I have not used other company's tools, they may have a similar "feature".
June 19, 2009 7:25:11 PM

Paperdoc, thanks for the thoughtful and well-written reply with instructions. You offer the controller switch for boot to be a little simpler than the post I referred to, but if the drive is seen by the mobo a BIOS boot-order adjustment should be all that is required…? Also, thank you for the heads-up about Logical Block Addressing confusion. I do have the SP2 installed and all other patches/updates sp that should be OK. Note that I am considering trying VISTA Business on this machine… should be interesting.

I had heard one system repair person say that the late 2003 Intel implementations of SATA-I were a little flakey, so I asked the community if they knew how the implementation was likely to work of such an early SATA chipset.

So, there will be no problem if I have one giant boot drive on the SATA controller and one 300Gig Seagate on the IDE controller?

I have those HD tools from earlier HD purchases so can update them -- and Acronis Home 11.

I am leaning toward a 1.5Tb WD Caviar Black because that could be physically transferred to a new desktop machine in a few months when all the OS-change dust settles. Additionally, there might be a worthwhile multi-core processor advance or the i7 products will drop in price. The news, too, says HD prices will be climbing now, reversing recent trends.


Finding a way to add a third HD in my case will involve some hacking up a rail set in a space that doesn't get direct fan cooling, so I'd put the Seagate 300 and the new Caviar (as boot drive) in the fan-cooled bays and consider adding a third… subject to making time to build a cage/rail set in there. Maybe a 1.5 TB means not worrying about forcing another drive in there at all!

Again, thanks for your reply.

jonathan7007
a c 329 G Storage
June 22, 2009 8:27:19 PM

The configuration you suggest should work fine. I'm sure you can set your BIOS' Boot Priority to use the SATA drive to boot and never try to boot from the IDE drive.

If I read right you have a 300 GB IDE drive plus a 160 GB drive (probably IDE) from which you boot now, and you're planning to add a 1.0 to 1.5 GB SATA, but there are only two easy drive bays to use. Here are a couple of ideas. First, recognize that the bays usually used for floppy drives (with their front covers removed) can be used for any 3½" unit, like another hard drive, especially if you leave its front cover in place. Another good thought is to mount one of your three drives in an EXTERNAL enclosure, then use it as a removable backup device. If you already have an eSATA port on your machine (or you can choose to buy a PCI adapter card to give you one) you can use that as a connection port for the external case. Alternatively, virtually all of these cases have a USB or USB2 connection ports on them, and I'm sure your computer does, too. You buy a case that fits these two criteria: (a) it must accept an IDE hard drive, since that is what you have to mount in there (either the 160 or the 300 GB); and, (b) it has a USB2 (or maybe just original USB) port to connect to your computer. Just trying to guess at your needs, I'd suggest putting the 300 GB unit in the external case, and it should be able to handle your data backup needs for a while. You mount the hard drive in the case, connect up its data and power cables, turn it on and boot your computer. Windows should find the new USB device and load its driver so you can use the hard drive. First step would then be to ensure all its old data is safely moved off to your new drive, if not done already. Then you wipe it clean by deleting all Partitions on it and creating a new Primary Partition that is not bootable and uses all its available space in one volume, then Formatting it using the NTFS File System.

I have a unit like this. To make backing up even easier, I use a utility package to clone my C: drive to it periodically, making it bootable. My thinking (have not had to do it yet!) is that this drive could completely substitute for my real C: drive if I had to, even is that required that I move that drive physically back into my computer case and re-adjusted the Boot Priority settings.
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