IntroductionIntroductionUnless you have been living under a rock, you will be no stranger to the Serial ATA standard that has become the new medium for mass storage connection to the PC. Serial ATA standards have now started to produce in mass on motherboards, with upwards of 4 ports standard on Intel, ULi, SIS and nVidia Southbridge's - not to mention the amount of additional controllers being added by motherboard makers, its not uncommon to see 6-8 SATA ports per motherboard.Serial ATA's main claim to fame is serial transfer of data from the I/O logic to the HDD controller chips. Serialisation means using serial communication architecture, similar to that which was introduce by RAMBUS for its RDRAM memory. Serial ATA Generation 1 is able to transmit at a theoretical 1.5Gbps (or 150MB/s) between the Southbridge and the onboard system controller of the Hard Disk, however, limits in magnetic storage doesn't permit the HDD to actually take advantage of this - speed wise, SATA is no more faster than ATA-133 HDD's until NCQ come along.NCQ or Native Command Queuing is fairly new to the Serial ATA standards. NCQ allows the HDD to smartly access data out of order rather than having to go though an order state to grab the required files, which can be located in different parts of the drive platers.Another feature of Serial ATA is the reduced size of the cables while lengthening them at the same time. SATA cables are only 7 wires wide, as opposed to IDE which are 80 wires across. IDE also limits the size at just over 60cm long while Serial ATA can go up to 1 meter before a repeater is needed to power re-transmit data over longer cables.Serial ATA Gen 1 did make some changes, now we have received Serial ATA Generation 2. SATA-II as it is known speeds the data transmission from 150MB/s up to 300MB/s between the HDD and the Southbridge chipset. nVidia and Intel are the first to offer this in their south bridges, with ULI, SiS and ATI soon to follow.Today we are looking at the first SATA-II HDD to cross our labs, Western Digital's Caviar SE WD2500JS and comparing it to a high-performing Seagate SATA 7200.8 HDD.
SpecificationsSpecifications of the Western Digital Caviar SELet's take a quick look at the drive specifications before taking a closer look at the drive.Performance SpecificationsRotational Speed: 7,200 RPM (nominal)Buffer Size: 8 MBAverage Latency: 4.20 ms (nominal)Seek TimesRead Seek Time: 8.9 msTrack-To-Track Seek Time: 2.0 ms (average)Full Stroke Seek: 21.0 ms (average)Transfer RatesBuffer To Host (Serial ATA): 300 MB/s (Max)Buffer To Disk: 748 Mbits/s (Max)Physical SpecificationsFormatted Capacity: 250,059 MBCapacity: 250 GBInterface: SATA 300 MB/sBytes Per Sector: 512User Sectors Per Drive: 488,397,168Servo Type: EmbeddedPhysical DimensionsHeight: 26.1 mm (Max)Length: 147 mm (Max)Width: 101.6 mmWeight: 0.6 kg (+/- .082 kg)Pretty standard specifications except for the 300MB/s transfer speeds but will it make a difference in the real-world?
FeaturesFeatures of the Western Digital Caviar SEBefore we jump into what everyone wants to see, the benchmark data, we best have a look at the drive itself. The Caviar SE and SE16 are Western Digital's first to market SATA drives supporting the new SATA-II spec line. The drives themselves come in 160GB, 200GB, 250GB and 300GB models.Western Digital has two separate models, the Caviar SE and the Caviar SE16. Both drives have almost identical specifications, the only difference is the cache sizes - the SE has an 8MB cache, and the SE16 has, you guessed it, 16MB.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and HD TachTest System SetupProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 660 (800MHz FSB) (Supplied by Intel)Memory: 2x Corsair 512MB DDR2-800 (Supplied by Corsair)Motherboard: ASUS P5WD2 Premium (Supplied by ASUS)Graphics Card: ASUS Radeon X800XT Platinum (Supplied by ASUS)Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP SP2For our testing we used the ASUS P5WD2 Premium motherboard with the ICH7-R SB. Only Intel and nVidia have full SATA-II standard support in their latest chipsets. SiS currently has SATA-II on the cards as does ULi and ATI. VIA has not announced any new SATA-II support yet.Both of our test drives were connected to the system through the ICH7-R SB and it's worth noting Seagate's current generation of SATA drives (7200.8) offer pretty good performance (as discussed here in our review of the drive earlier this year) so the Western Digital SATA-II drive will be under some pressure to perform well.We would have liked to test in RAID 0 but unfortunately we only received one drive from Western Digital so we'll just be testing with single drives.Let's get started!HD TachVersion and / or Patch Used: 3.0Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php?request=HdTach /Buy It Here
Benchmarks - PCMark05PCMarkVersion and / or Patch Used: 2005Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/pcmark04/Buy It Here
Benchmarks - File Copy TestX-Bit Labs File Copy TestVersion and / or Patch Used: 0.59Developer Homepage: http://www.xbitlabs.comProduct Homepage: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/fc-test.html
Final ThoughtsFinal ThoughtsSerial ATA has taken off as the standard for mass storage; it's only a matter of time before ATAPI devices will start showing up on SATA, allowing a much broader range of transfer rates for DVD-R units.Serial ATA has had some teething issues, such as getting wide range support, as well as adding features that would distinguish it from Parallel ATA architecture but Serial ATA-II has finally done this.Serial ATA-II adds speeds of 300MB/s between the host to drive buffer as well as full support for hot plug, which allows for using HDD's as swappable media - no need for rebooting, much like USB.In our testing, Serial ATA-II running at full speed doesn't offer any great speed advantage over the SATA-150 drives, so until the magnetic storage components are replaced with high speed non-violate memory, we won't see much in terms of speed upgrades with SATA-II at its current form.Overall the speed of the Western Digital drive isn't impressive as a single drive not in RAID, but the additional features make SATA all the more enticing as the new storage interconnect standard and in a RAID 0 array we've seen SATA-II drives really shine. Western Digital's implementation of SATA-II is good and drive is built to typical high-quality WD standards however unfortunately our performance benchmarks were not as impressive as we imagined they would be.- ProsSATA-II supportMolex power connection optionQuiet operationVery well priced (around 44 cents USD per GB at time of publishing)Good performance but not spectacular- ConsNo real advantage over SATA as a single drive- Current Pricing The Western Digital 2500JS HDD is for people building a new system with SATA-II support and want a very affordable yet decent drive with plenty of space and is not for people thinking of upgrading from a single SATA to SATA-II drive expecting to see massive jumps in performance.Rating - 8 out of 10
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT
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