SATA transfer speed depending on chipset?

Hello all,

I have two questions... This is my first post, so I'm sorry I couldn't contribute with something I know, but have to start out with a question, since I could find info on this on Internet...

I recently bough a used laptop, that has ICH7 I/O controller on board, which could theoretically support SATA transfer of 3 Gbit/s, but unfortunately, it seems that the wise guys at Lenovo or Intel (whoever) decided that on their laptop version of chipset with this controller, this is limited to 1.5 Gbit/s, ie. original SATA specification, instead of SATA II which is otherwise available on MOBO's with ICH7 - I know this because I have a desktop computer that has motherboard with ICH7...

Now, I have an external disk enclosure with USB and ESATA input ports, and a WD black hard disk inside. It works when connected to USB, of course, but the speed isn't all that great, and I beleive connecting to ESATA should provide regular SATA transfer speeds (correct me if I'm wrong)...
So, my question is, if I would buy a PCMCIA card for my laptop (actually a express card, but my laptop supports those) that provides an ESATA port and is SATA II (3 Gbit/s) capable, and connected it with ESATA cable to my disk enclosure, would the transfer speed be 1.5 or 3 Gbit/s, regardless of my motherboard's chip limit of 1.5 Gbit/s? I was thinking of this extension card:

As a side question... Since laptop version of ICH7 was for some reason limited to 1.5 Gbit/s SATA transfers, is there a possibility (hack?) to remove this limit, since the desktop version of ICH7 doesn't have this limit? Some unofficial firmware perhaps?
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  1. how do you check if its limited to 1.5 Gbit/s ?? maybe your HD was set to 1.5 Gbit/s ??
    Express Card taps into PCI Express on motherboard and has nothing to do with on-board sata, (it comes with its own sata controller)
    anyway unless you got SSD connected, the speed will be limited by Hard drive and not sata chip
    Whats model of your laptop??
  2. Hi,

    model of my laptop is Thinkpad z61p 0674-ksg. I know it is quite old, but I really got it at a bargain price (used). Thanks for your answer, that's what I hoped for, that a PCMCIA card has it's own SATA controller, not depending on motherboard.
    The disc I have is Western digital Caviar black, which is 7200 rpm, and has 64 MB cache, also they claim to support 6 Gbit/second so it's not about my hard disc. I didn't measure speed in any way on this laptop that I just got, but I did on my desktop computer with the same disc and it's external enclosure. I am not technically savvy enough to do some real testing, but I did notice a big improvement when I connected the disc to ESATA port versus USB2 at least... That was on my desktop which has ESATA out and the measurement was purely subjective :)

    I would still be interested if someone knows if this limit of that particular chipset on SATA speed can be changed/removed, as desktop version of the same chipset doesn't have the limit, exactly because I was thinking of replacing the stock Thinkpad disc with SSD, and shoving the stock one in "Ultrabay" instead of CD/DVD drive because I think noone these days even needs CD drive. At least I didn't use CD drive for years...

    If anyone is interested, the chipset in question in my laptop is Intel 945PM.
  3. Any 7200rpm hdd only hits ~110MB/s which doesn't even fully use sata 1 (1.5Gb/s=192MB/s but probably 160Mb/s with overhead). Usb 2 maxes about 30MB/s so any sata or esata will let you fully use the hdd speed. Those advertised 6Gb/s is the sata connection max, making people think they are faster: good marketing. Sata speed is a hardware limitation.

    Even if you were to get a ssd, the benefit of a ssd is access times not sequential speeds. So you will still get a huge increase in responsiveness vs a hdd.

    I want to correct, an express card is through the pcie like he said but that makes it go through the pcie controller. And that should be a x1 1.0 at 250MB/s.
  4. Quote:
    Even if you were to get a ssd, the benefit of a ssd is access times not sequential speeds.

    Yeah, I know that... But here I'm exactly interested in access time, eg. program startup times and boot time. I woudl definately put OS on SSD if I could, but hold my dataa (loads of mp3, movies, etc) on normal HDD. The benefit of SSD is obviously in seek times because of lack of mechanical parts that move around the disc, and that's what I'm looking from a SSD.
    Thanks for your answer too.

    Those advertised 6Gb/s is the sata connection max, making people think they are faster: good marketing.

    Of course :)
  5. I can't really answer your question, but I wanted to point out that it's pretty much irrelevant because even a SATA-I connection won't bottleneck a hard drive. For example, the 2TB WD Black drives have a maximum sustained transfer rate of 138MByte/sec - less than the 150MByte/sec bandwidth available with SATA I.

    There are some enterprise drives that spin at 10K and 15K RPM that would get bottlenecked by SATA I, but they typically don't use a SATA interface anyway. But no consumer hard drive that I'm aware of will be an issue (yet).
  6. I know some controllers are slower for one reason or another(even with both being the same sata revision). I have E-SATA ports that are slower then the internal ports. I thought it was my external drive, but IT was faster on Intel E-sata then then j-micron(or was it marvel)

    So the controller can have an effect, but it is minimal to be honest.

    For numbers. These are the drives in my system right now.

    Seagate LP 2TB
    MAX - 140.4
    AVG 102.5
    ACCESS - over 16ms

    WD Black 2 TB
    MAX - 149.9
    ACCESS - 10.3ms
    AVG - 113.4
  7. nukemaster said:
    WD Black 2 TB
    MAX - 149.9
    Which model of WD do you have? All of the black WD desktop 2TB drives I could see have a max sustained transfer rate of only 138MByte/sec according to their spec sheets - for example here's the specs for the WD2002FAEX:
  8. That is just what the benchmark shows. To be honest I was more impressed with the access times then anything with this drive(at least vs my older 640 gig blacks, but this thing sure is HOT running).

    Shows as WDC WD2002FAEX. I got it just before the hard drive prices went up.
  9. Thank you all for your kind answers.
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