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Hard Disk Cache

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December 15, 2009 1:51:01 PM

Hi friends,I need to know the relevance of hard disk cache size.How does the cache size affect performance of a hard disk?Is higher cache size recommended for gaming?Basically,does hard disks provide significant gaming performance?.
I also need to know the bottlenecks experienced from low cache sizes.

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a b G Storage
December 16, 2009 5:36:27 PM

HD cache will hold files in memory that are used quite often or for prefetching. Memory transfers will always be faster than reading off hard drives. So the more cache you have the more files can be held in memory, the faster the drive will be for those files. Once it has to pull off the hard drive you're back to normal speeds.
December 16, 2009 7:14:21 PM

Get something with a 32mb cache. Thats as good as you can do w/o going ssd.
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a c 415 G Storage
December 16, 2009 8:12:44 PM

Drive caches actually don't make that much difference in the real performance you'll see at the keyboard. A 32MB cache is only enough to hold about 1/2-second's worth of data at typical transfer rates. Windows uses spare RAM to cache up to gigabytes worth of data - that has a much bigger performance benefit than anything a hard drive can give you.
December 17, 2009 2:00:29 PM


Okey,does it mean that 8MB&16MB Cache hard disks gives almost same performance in real world applications and games?
a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
December 17, 2009 3:01:25 PM

Fairly close, yes, though pretty much anything with an 8MB cache is getting pretty outdated by this point.
December 17, 2009 7:24:29 PM

Ok,what are the possible bottlenecks experienced from low cache sizes like 8MB?Is it severe as the CPU bottlenecks?
a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
December 17, 2009 9:18:08 PM

Not really. 8MB cache isn't really a problem - the problem is that no modern drives are made with just 8MB cache (that I know of), so any drive with just 8MB will be outdated in other areas too. If you can find a modern drive that has 8MB cache, then these arguments go out the window.

The main thing cache helps is random writes. If you aren't doing lots of random writes, then the cache will give some benefit, but it is surprisingly minor.
a b G Storage
December 18, 2009 1:41:07 AM

ramx said:
Hi friends,I need to know the relevance of hard disk cache size.How does the cache size affect performance of a hard disk?Is higher cache size recommended for gaming?Basically,does hard disks provide significant gaming performance?.
I also need to know the bottlenecks experienced from low cache sizes.


If you think your gaming Frame-rate is going to increase from a faster HDD with a larger cache than you are wrong. The HD cache is similar to a CPU cache, it is like a small faster buffer so that it can transfer data to memory faster than the actually HDD.
December 19, 2009 1:53:51 AM

Ok,it means that HD Cache is similar to RAM,affecting loading times.isn't?
I think its effect can be noted in memory intensive games like GTA IV.Am I right?

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a b 4 Gaming
a b G Storage
December 19, 2009 7:15:27 AM
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Basically, although a hard drive cache will make less difference than more RAM would. A hard drive with zero cache would perform terribly, but they don't need very much cache to operate fairly well. Once you've got some cache, even just a little bit, you hit a point of diminishing returns. Yes, modern drives have more cache than they used to, but it really does give minimal benefit.

For an example of this, some of the fastest drives available right now (the velociraptor) have 16MB of cache, while some of the new desktop drives have up to 64MB. There's simply more to be gained through faster seeks and higher rotational speed than there is with more cache (though cache is very cheap to add, so it will continue to be upsized simply because it is an easy increase to performance, however minor of an increase that may be).
December 19, 2009 12:50:44 PM

Thank you cjl for the information.I am concerned of the cache size because I bought a 320GB WD Cavair Blue hard disk with only 8MB of cache a week ago.Though Vista gives it an index of 5.9,I am very concerned of the possible bottlenecks.Does this WD hard disk offer competitive performance?
a b G Storage
December 19, 2009 1:16:23 PM

I mean, WD Blue isn't Western Digitals high performance drive like a Black or Raptor is. A Blue will offer reasonable speed still. You can benchmark its access rate and Read/Write speed with HDTUNE. And when you ask competitive performance, what do you mean?...are talking about other similar hard drives in terms of performance? Well you need research some benchmarks on Tom'shardware and they will give you comparisons. And your disk a 7200rpm, for a HDD of that rotational speed it probably offers okay performance but 10,000 and 15,000rpm drives will outperform as well as other HDD's like the Black series or a Samsung Spinpoint F3. Cache isn't even close to being the performance big decider for an HDD. The two main things are Rotational Speed and Platter Density < worry about that first and then your cache.
And as I said earlier, the Storage device is the bottleneck of any modern system, even a fast SSD is still worlds slower than the memory, cpu...etc so pretty much with a slower hard drive, bottlenecks would be slower boots, applications opening a bit slower, loading times of games and apps a bit on the slower side, you wont see fps decreases though as the HDD doesn't affect fps.
December 20, 2009 4:50:54 AM

Thank you all...you've cleared my doubts..
!