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Crowded case? Want more room?

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March 5, 2002 11:29:41 PM

Herein you will find my meandering thoughts on case airflow and mass storage...

I am really looking forward to Serial ATA soon, as I am growing tired of the restricted airflow from the wide cables currently used for EIDE drives. Are any of you planning on picking up such a drive when they are released? (The controllers and hard drives should be available some time during the first half of this year.)

I just chuckle when I hear people yelling about ATA/133. What is the point of a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 133MB/s when the first generation of Serial ATA will offer about 190MB/s and clean up the nasty cable congestion inside our cases?

Of course you will not see such transfer rates except in burst transfers from your hard drive's cache unless you use a RAID array. What I like most is the increased airflow in the case.

I just wish there was a plan for Serial SCSI. The bottleneck in today's hard drives is the seek time, not the bandwidth. This is the only component in a modern computer that is measured in milliseconds. Everything else is down to nanoseconds. Until IDE hard drives speed up and offer seek times similar to SCSI drives (currently around 3ms), I will continue using SCSI for everything but archive storage. Since the hard drive is the main bottleneck in our systems, using a hard drive that has half the seek time of another can speed up your system by a factor of 2.

What are your thoughts on this subject? What else would you cleanup inside your system if you could decrease cable sizes to help out airflow? Better airflow means a cooler processor after all...

-Raystonn


= The views stated herein are my personal views, and not necessarily the views of my employer. =

More about : crowded case room

March 6, 2002 12:11:18 AM

Isn't firewire (sort of) like a serial version of SCSI?

I'm not currently overly concerned with temperature and thus airflow as I'm happily running an Athlon 650. My problem is noise. I've replaced the single small high speed loud fan with two larger virtually silent ones. The problem is I have a GeForce256 DDR, which has a tiny but utterly loud fan, and my 350W psu has two fans and is the loudest thing in the machine.

Keeping to the subject, the inside of my pc is crowded with 2 HDDs, 1 CDRW, 1 DVD-ROM, 1 AGP card and 5 PCI cards, but it is quite neat. The IDE cables are folded-in between the drives. The CD-Audio, TV-Audio, DVD-Analogue Audio cables are all taped to the case. So I think Airflow is kinda OK. But its too god damn noisy! I really think I might get a flexATX system with a VIA C3 for normal work and use this for games.

I like the Serial ATA concept though. But in my opinion, the PC is still just too big. I suppose this is what happens when Americans are the pioneers in the field. They like everything big. I really hope the Japanese get on the subject. Then we'll prolly see FlexATX as being the monster size Server-PC form factor.

<font color=red><i>I refugee from Guatanamo Bay,
dance around the border like I'm Cassius Clay
</i></font color=red>
March 6, 2002 12:11:34 AM

well certainly the pci and agp card<s> restrict the airflow .. 3 or more pci cards creates quite a baffle and as the agp card is always between the lower fans and the cpu this creates an air dam also. how about a smaller profile psu .. personally I always build in full towers (for myself) but a lot of the boxes I build or upgrade for folks are in mid and mini-atx-towers so the psu takes up a lot of horizontal space in some of them.. then there is always the cdrom\r-rw arrays which protude into the airstream, stacked tight as they are in mid and mini towers there is not much or any circulation between them (another reason I use full server cases I can leave an open bay between) as pointed out the 80 strand ide and floppy cables restrict flow and what bugs me the most is often this is air flow near the ram modules .. hot ram sux for top performance and mtbf numbers .. anyway those are my thoughts on it

lagger

<b><font color=blue>Alcohol, the source of and the solution to all of lifes problems</font color=blue>
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March 6, 2002 12:21:22 AM

Aiflow isn't a problem with rounded cables, but I'm with you 100% on the performance increase. I just wonder what the price difference will be between SCSI and serial ATA.

<font color=red>If you were to have sex with your clone would that be considered incest or masturbation?</font color=red>
March 6, 2002 12:24:38 AM

Quote:
If you were to have sex with your clone would that be considered incest or masturbation?

not sure but I do know it would be gay as hell :eek: 

lagger

<b><font color=blue>Alcohol, the source of and the solution to all of lifes problems</font color=blue>
March 6, 2002 12:27:19 AM

I have all my SCSI components in external boxes. If I spend that much on a frilling drive I going to carry it everywhere.
March 6, 2002 1:00:16 AM

Raystonn, interesting thoughts.

Serial ATA does indeed have a lot of possibilites - and regards serial SCSI, from what I read, Serial ATA II is supposed to be the mass storage/SCSI equivalent with bus queuing, hot swap etc.

So, what else? We begin to wander in PC wishlists again but....

Floppy drives, just no. Plain no. Let's all get happy and use flash please. Flash is now not too expensive, esp. comparing the usage of 1.44Mb floppy v.s. what we do with it. Let's go to a 1" form factor and use flash drives for whatever must be done at system boot. Also, I don't want to have to use a front slot for it (unless I use it for other things) so a USB option for it is good.

Optical drives - can we get them 1/2 height please? I am sure it is not beyond the wit of man, looking at the portable verions available, to build 2 separate optical drives into a single 5.25" bay.

Cables - too many of them. Serial ATA seems to fail this test, we now need a cable [per] device. That's backwards. I at least can use a single rounded IDE cable for 2 devices, not 2 separate ones. Some gains are lost here.

If it were my choice, look at serial ATA, but use the proposed switch technology and optical interconnects. A lot easier to route 1/8" optical cable in a case. Maybe device costs go up $50 a shot. Hey ho, keep making an ATA option as well for those that can't afford/don't want it. The audio and networking worlds learned about optical a long time ago.

While we are at it - PCI stinks. Fixed form factor motherboards with big hardware slot interconnects are horrible. Why not make 'PCI' devices peripheral? Allow them to be mounted elsewhere if external connectivity is not an issue, or away from the cpus at least. They can be powered from molex connectors, and have dedicated slots elsewhere on the case, and use a fiber/digital 'uplink' cable from the board. Default motherboard real-estate drops massively, esp. if the serial ATA is adopted. Only AGP will need to remain on-board for reasons of power consumption probably. That could be mounted flat, paralell to the mobo. Micro-ATX sized boards need never again be a compromise. The same board could reside in a small cube up to a huge tower and scale functionality.

Look at this scenario - rather than use an externally presented disk controller card, why not use a 'PCI Interconnect' to logically place the card functionality into a 3.5" form factor in the drive cage. You could then have 8 or so serial ATA connectors presented at that device NEXT to the drives themselves. Cabling suddenly gets a lot less hassle and a lot more localised.

I'd like to see storage migrate from mechanical to solid-state technology. Memory need not be as fast as system memory to still provide huge environment and performance gains over platters. Take all the effort into PC3000/PC1066&1200. Why not focus on a 100MB/s memory that scales out to many gigabytes? Latency and performance per drive would far out-perform even the fastest SCSI drive today, at less noise, power consumption and heat result.

Some/all of the steps above result in smaller case components. Smaller/fewer PTP cabling. Less crowding of the mobo. Better performance, lower power consumption etc.

-* <font color=red> !! S O L D !! </font color=red> *-
To the gentleman in the pink Tutu
March 6, 2002 1:06:13 AM

Quote:
Crowded case? Want more room?

<A HREF="http://www.supermicro.com/images/Imag_Prod/SUPER_SVR800... 8050.jpg" target="_new">Not really, no. :smile: </A>

(Sorry, couldn't resist. No, I don't have the motherboard, just the case.)

<i>If a server crashes in a server farm and no one pings it, does it still cost four figures to fix?
March 6, 2002 1:13:54 AM

I don't know, I rather like my large bulky case. The idea of having things connected through FireWire and USB 2.0 seems counter-productive. I'd rather have everything built into my case, protected from the elements and myself. Granted, it screws up airflow, but I'd rather have to work around that then try to find places for all my peripherals to sit on the floor. Also, by being on the 'board, it prevents accidental disconnection (a common problem with me, since cords are everywhere already).

Those are just my rants. I like the way things are... though the floppy could go. Damn things corrupt too quickly.

-SammyBoy
March 6, 2002 1:16:19 AM

I'll probably get that when I have my new system put together. I hate those thick ide cables with a passion.

<i>My life wasn't complete untill I tried sse-2 optimized pong</i>
March 6, 2002 3:27:39 AM

Hmm, read that thread - they're wrong.

You can get 16Mb flash for $6 today, readers for $5-$10. Scale that out, and you are flying.

For those that say you can support bood disks and all that junk, fine, just build an option to allow the bios to present your flash reader as A: - it's not tough. All of a sudden you have an OPTIONAL media as you A: drive, it can support (depending on format) up to 128Mb or even 1GB (microdrive). Now of course your media is even smaller and faster to read/write than floppy.

Oh yes, If you used something like smartmedia, you can even get an adaptor that lets it be used in a regular floppy drive, giving you compatability with legacy systems.

No-one is forcing users off floppy if they currently use them, but to insist on it being present by default in a new systems is dumb. Optional is fine.

-* <font color=red> !! S O L D !! </font color=red> *-
To the gentleman in the pink Tutu
March 6, 2002 3:31:05 AM

Hey, I'm not talking about maintaing stuff externally on 1394 or USB2, I mean true optical interfaces internally, or serial ATA internally. Everything still nice and compact (even more so) and nicely RF shielded.

Devices will still be plugged on the board, or wherever internally, this should cut down on accidental disconnects.

I think things are stale and heavily geared towards legacy - let's push stuff forward. ISA is already out of the picture (finally) so things do move, CNR and AMR was not a smart move though.

-* <font color=red> !! S O L D !! </font color=red> *-
To the gentleman in the pink Tutu
March 6, 2002 1:33:54 PM

I just want the option of being able to run a single thin rounded cable from a single HD/CD/DVD/Floppy/Etc. controller to my primary HD. From there I want to run a cable from that HD to the next HD in the chain, and then from that HD to the next, and so on up through all of my storage devices. (Even including my legacy 1.44" floppy.) That way I only have one cable actually running across the motherboard from the controller to my storage devices. In fact, I want this cable to perform IO completely optically. Furthermore, I also want power lines to be included in that cable so that I don't have a million and one power cable extensions running every which way. That way each storage device has just two ports. One port being for the cable from the previous storage device (or from the controller if there is no previous device) and one for a cable to the next storage device (if there is another storage device).

This in itself would clean up PCs so very nicely.

Of course, I also want this in a motherboard with completely optical busses. In the places where needed, there will of course be optical to eletrical converters since we obviously don't have optical devices yet.

I want the case and the case cover to have a sound-dampening layer and be constructed rigidly solid. I also want the case's air flow to come from the front and side through sound-dampened and air-filtered channels, and the case's air flow to leave through a similarly sound-dampened channel at the top of the case which also protects the power supply fan and any other exhaust fans.

And I want the case to include not only an exceptional power supply, but also an integrated water-cooler which uses the case's top exhaust channel to cool a passive liquid-to-air heat exchanger. This way the CPU doesn't add to internal heat or noise. Of course, the water-cooler must use a quiet pump of excellent quality and a non-corrosive liquid, so that it will ensure operation for years without needing maintanance or replacement of the cooling system.

Of course the case would have to be somewhat larger and heavier than standard. That goes without saying. However even a mini-tower case designed this way would still be considerably smaller than a full-tower case already in use today. To me size doesn't matter so long as I can still fit it under my desk. :) 

So in the end, I want a case and motherboard which: greatly dampens sound, filters all air going into it, is designed to promote a perfect air flow through the case, minimizes internal case temperatures, has virtually no limit to the number of internal storage devices, and has a vastly improved theoretical bus speed support.

I don't ask for much. ;)  All that I want is intelligent engineering.

<pre><font color=green>//error-proof coding</font color=green>
<font color=blue>void</font color=blue> main(){<font color=blue>return</font color=blue>;}</pre><p>
March 6, 2002 11:24:39 PM

Raystonn

For once we are in agreement.

Quote:
I just chuckle when I hear people yelling about ATA/133. What is the point of a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 133MB/s when the first generation of Serial ATA will offer about 190MB/s and clean up the nasty cable congestion inside our cases?

I am not looking for serial ATA to be widespread for two years. Even then it will bring a price premium. First editions are likely to come with there own bugs and quirks as well. Not to mention that we will all need to migrate to new motherboards with 64 bit 66mhz pci slots ( why doesn't any one offer this in a single cpu motherboard yet?)

Quote:
I just wish there was a plan for Serial SCSI. The bottleneck in today's hard drives is the seek time, not the bandwidth. This is the only component in a modern computer that is measured in milliseconds. Everything else is down to nanoseconds. Until IDE hard drives speed up and offer seek times similar to SCSI drives (currently around 3ms), I will continue using SCSI for everything but archive storage. Since the hard drive is the main bottleneck in our systems, using a hard drive that has half the seek time of another can speed up your system by a factor of 2.

I am not sure what you meant by "plan for serial SCSI". Serial SCSI already exist, it is called Fibre channel. The question is why don't they adopt this over to desktop PC's? It could be scaled done to a desktop version ( scalled down in the effect of desktops would not need all the stuff FC-al brings to the table.) Crashman already asked this question. Oh and by the way to avoid confusion I think we all need to include disk rotational latency when quoting our disks access times, ie the fastest SCSI disk has a real world access of about 5ms.

I have been playing with FC-AL for over a month now and so far I am impressed. It can be done relatively cheep as well. (I just got bored with the overclocking just to look at benchmarks). I just picked up a 36.7 gig 10k Fc-al drive on ebay with 16mb cache for 120 bucks. This will be added to the two 36.7 gig cheetahlps ( 36.7) and 4 9.1 gig 10k cheetahs ( spent a hole 15 bucks each on these). And the hole chebang can be accessed from two computers simulaneously as local drives.

As for the floppy issue, why not just have a usb floppy and bring it out whenever needed?


It's not what they tell you, its what they don't tell you!
March 7, 2002 3:15:02 AM

Isn't Fibre Channel a SCSI similarity to Serial ATA? If so, why didn't they simply change computers over to FC instead of comming up with a new standard?

What's the frequency, Kenneth?
March 7, 2002 4:33:13 AM

Anyone smell money?


:smile: <font color=blue><b>You get what you pay for...all advice here is free.</b></font color=blue> :smile:
March 7, 2002 7:06:09 AM

Similar money I think, based on popularity (the more common something is, the cheaper it becomes).

What's the frequency, Kenneth?
March 8, 2002 8:21:23 PM

So, how many miles per gallon does it do?

<font color=red><i>I refugee from Guatanamo Bay,
dance around the border like I'm Cassius Clay
</i></font color=red>
!