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Expanding storage with controller cards on Win98SE

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#1
Foxbat

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I am planning to buy new hard drives and a controller card, but I haven't decided on whether to go with a used Promise IDE controller card, or one of those IDE/SATA combo cards that claim to have Windows 98SE driver support.

Newegg is currently having a sale on controller cards and Western Digital hard drives, so it looks like a good time to buy.
Here is a list of cards using the search term "Windows 98SE":
http://www.newegg.co...ICE&PageSize=20
Here is a list of cards using the search term "Windows 98":
http://www.newegg.co...ICE&PageSize=20

I had to search twice to show all available supported cards. In these results, there are IDE cards, SATA cards, and IDE/SATA combos. Some of these are so cheap that they do not contain a BIOS (I won't be booting from the card). Maybe these cards do not cause a boot delay? I am surprised to see eSATA and SATAII 3Gb/s supporting Win98SE (running at 133MB/s PCI speeds of course). I though these didn't exist for Win98SE? The SATAII 3Gb/s cards may be useful as I have a SATAIII 6Gb/s hard drive and I'd like to use that with my Win98SE system (it's currently in a slow USB2 external enclosure). Now which route should I go?

Going the IDE route would be safer, and staying with all IDE drives will allow me to also have the option of plugging them into my mobo. There's a cost though. IDE drives are close to being phased out; it won't be long until reliable sources run out. Additionally, I could be stuck with many legacy drives when I move on.

Going IDE/SATA route would allow me to use both (or just go with SATA only), and I can continue to use the SATA drives when I migrate to a new system. Of course, the slightly faster SATA speeds will not be realized as the the interface is still PCI. Also, SATA seem to be spotty from what I've read around here, so there may problems down the road. Are there caveats to using SATA hard drives on controller cards with Win98SE driver support?

Edited for typo

Edited by Foxbat, 24 August 2012 - 09:04 AM.



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#2
TmEE

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I am using a Silicon Image Sil3114 4x SATA PCI card and it works nicely with the 3x 250 and 1x 750GB drives I have connected to it.
Before that I used to have card based on Ali chipset with 2x SATA and 1x IDE, but its SATA ports eventually died for some reason...
And those increased speeds of SATA won't matter much, very few HDDs actually reach sustained speeds that are beyond 100MB/sec, and this also fits incely into SATA1. But this starts mattering when there's several copy operations happening...
Posted Image Mida sa loed ? Nagunii aru ei saa ;)

#3
Foxbat

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I found this entry on Wikipedia under the SATA article:
"... The Force 150 switch is also useful when attaching SATA 300 hard drives on SATA controllers on PCI cards, since many of these controllers (such as the Silicon Images chips) will run at SATA300 even though the PCI bus cannot even reach SATA150 speeds. This can cause data corruption in operating systems that do not specifically test for this condition and limit the disk transfer speed."

This is pretty disconcerting as would like to to jumper my SATA III 6Gb/s drive to work with a SATA II 3Gb/s card. Moving to a SATA I 1.5Gb/s card will mean no SATA III 6Gb/s drive support. It seems I may have to buy older SATA II 3Gb/s drives which oddly cost more than than their SATA III 6Gb/s counterparts probably due to the beginning of the phase out stage. I can no longer find any Caviar Black SATA II 3Gb/s drives, and the Blues and Greens are reducing in number, for example. However, there are no sources cited to support the Wikipedia statement. Certainly doesn't make it any easier though.

#4
Foxbat

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I am using a Silicon Image Sil3114 4x SATA PCI card and it works nicely with the 3x 250 and 1x 750GB drives I have connected to it.

Do you have any boot drives running with the card?

Edited by Foxbat, 24 August 2012 - 06:13 PM.


#5
shae

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IDE drives are more expensive, so I'd go with SATA, or SATA+IDE as long as SATA support is fine (chipset, drivers, etc.). If you want to use the mobo IDE ports, you can get SATA-to-IDE adapters that mount directly on the back of the drive, or an IDE-to-2 SATA adapter cards that plug into a mobo port (better in theory, but seems messier physically).

Boot delay-wise, I suspect, but don't know for sure, that you could erase the flash to disable the BIOS and associated delay.

I haven't encountered SATA 1.5/3.0 issues on my 1.5 card, but only tried it with a WD Blue and a Samsung F1. One possible thing to mind with newer drives, though, is 4K sectors. I'm not sure what implications this may have on Win98. Maybe just aligning the partitions will be enough. And that Wikipedia claim on needing OS-specific support depending on drive transfer speed sounds dubious.

I have a SiI3512-based card that I use for eSATA on a Win98 computer, and a in another computer a SATA-to-IDE adapter based on some JMicron chip. I don't remember which one.

BTW, there are various past discussions on SATA controllers in the forum.

TmEE: All modern HDDs can sustain >100MB/sec at low LBAs. And I think it'd actually matter less with multiple simultaneous disk operations, because then you'd be seriously bottlenecked by head movement and rotational latency.

Edited by shae, 25 August 2012 - 09:08 AM.


#6
TmEE

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I would not say All, only few more expensive ones. The most typical speed is in 70MB/sec and less area. When you have not yet filled the on-drive buffer you can easily get a 100+ spike but for a sustained transfer the figure drops fast. Low LBA are mostly occupied by ginormous windows installs anyway :P

Do you have any boot drives running with the card?


No, but it can be possible as the card presents itself as a SCSI controller.
Posted Image Mida sa loed ? Nagunii aru ei saa ;)

#7
Foxbat

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One possible thing to mind with newer drives, though, is 4K sectors. I'm not sure what implications this may have on Win98. Maybe just aligning the partitions will be enough.

Keeping things simple would be the best option, so I tend to stick to lower capacity drives. Besides, I don't like having large FATs, or partitioning volumes that go all the way up to Z.

BTW, there are various past discussions on SATA controllers in the forum.

Ah, I've read these threads back then, but forgotten about them as I was not considering SATA drives at that time. Thanks for the reminder.

I would not say All, only few more expensive ones. The most typical speed is in 70MB/sec and less area. When you have not yet filled the on-drive buffer you can easily get a 100+ spike but for a sustained transfer the figure drops fast. Low LBA are mostly occupied by ginormous windows installs anyway :P

These days, theoretical speeds seem to double every time a new standard is announced, even though actual performance is still not much better than UATA. It required a paradigm shift to SSD to finally see a significant jump in speeds, yet it still hasn't fully utilized the available bandwidth.


I double checked the SATA II 3Gb/s controller cards. It turned out to be sloppy data entry. They're not compatible with Win98SE. However, my limited experience in testing a SATA III 6Gb/s hard drive connected to a SATA I 1Gb/s port did not result in any problems. Googling around, I was able to pull up some anecdotal reports that it might have been the early SATA I 1Gb/s controllers that has this compatibility problem. It may still depend on the controller though.

#8
shae

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4K sectors are getting more and more difficult to avoid. And regardless of partitioning scheme, 4K sectors need attention, also in drives that expose it as 0.5K sectors.

Regarding HDD sequential speed, speed is largely a factor of areal density (and rotation speed). HDD platters store more data now than before, so speed increases.

For example, a test of some 500GB HDDs from 2010. In a synthetic test, all except WD Green are >100MB/sec (IOMeter synthetic tests later in the review show somewhat lower speeds):
http://www.xbitlabs....up_5.html#sect0

Real life test shows similar results on reads:
http://www.xbitlabs....p_13.html#sect0

It required a paradigm shift to SSD to finally see a significant jump in speeds, yet it still hasn't fully utilized the available bandwidth.

SSDs have pretty much maxed the interface for a while now, with >500MB/sec speeds.

Edited by shae, 27 August 2012 - 07:23 AM.


#9
Foxbat

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My controller card has arrived and I've been watching for data corruption this past week. The card has IDE, SATA, and eSATA ports (to take anything I can throw at it), with no BIOS (no boot delay). My SATA III 6Gb/s drive is connected to it and is running well so far. The SATA Caivar Black on the card has slower transfer rates (average ~20MB/s less) than the IDE Caivar Blue that is directly connected to my mobo. The loss in speed is probably due to PCI bus overhead, although this is much more preferable to USB2 any day. A drawback is I will have to baby the flimsy SATA connectors now since they're rated for 50 insertion/removal cycles (http://wdc.com/en/pr...ecompatibility/). I often swap drives, so one of my SATA drives that I've bought just a few months ago is already 1/5 into the cycle count. This wasn't a problem when IDE was the standard.

4K sectors are getting more and more difficult to avoid.

512 byte sector drives are still widely available, but you're right. It will be a matter of time until all hard drives transition to 4K sectors.

SSDs have pretty much maxed the interface for a while now, with >500MB/sec speeds.

And here I am still dealing with Win9x... but I like it!

#10
jaclaz

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My controller card has arrived and I've been watching for data corruption this past week. The card has IDE, SATA, and eSATA ports (to take anything I can throw at it), with no BIOS (no boot delay). My SATA III 6Gb/s drive is connected to it and is running well so far. The SATA Caivar Black on the card has slower transfer rates (average ~20MB/s less) than the IDE Caivar Blue that is directly connected to my mobo. The loss in speed is probably due to PCI bus overhead, although this is much more preferable to USB2 any day. A drawback is I will have to baby the flimsy SATA connectors now since they're rated for 50 insertion/removal cycles (http://wdc.com/en/pr...ecompatibility/). I often swap drives, so one of my SATA drives that I've bought just a few months ago is already 1/5 into the cycle count. This wasn't a problem when IDE was the standard.

I think you are a bit pessimistic.

http://forum.scottmu....php?f=1&t=2202

The actual "male" on the hard disk no-matter how and what was designed for can resist many, many more than 50 insertions.

In the worst cases, if you have a no-name/poor quality "female" (on the cable) in the worst case you will need to replace the cable.

jaclaz




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