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IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts? (Read 5671 times)
Craig
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IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Aug 15th, 2009 at 2:55pm
 
I really wish my computer used the disk more efficiently but I’ve never been brave enough to take the SCSI leap, even after reading “Radified Guide to SCSI - Boot from a SCSI Hard Drive”.  My machine performs as well as any well-tuned XP machine circa 2008, which is darn quick until I ask it to do something that involves I/O while it’s already doing a big I/O task, like a big move/copy/delete.  Then it slows down to a pathetic crawl.  Even sometimes when there’s no background I/O task, asking it to do something that involves I/O can “thrash” the disk (if that’s the correct term) like it’s running out of RAM, and I’m pretty sure it’s not.  Yes, I keep the disks defragmented, and yes, UDMA is alive and well.  I had a machine that kept falling back to PIO mode.  That was awful. 

My specs:

Intel P4 E8400
Gigabyte EP35-DS3L
2GB DDR2 PC2-5300 (333MHz)
Main drive - Samsung SP1213C (120GB SATA) at UDMA mode 5, only half full
Data & swap - Seagate ST31500341AS (1.5TB SATA-II) at UDMA mode 5, < half full
Swap file min & max = 3GB, one fragment

As an example of my experience, I just loaded Firefox 3.5.2 and it took around 15 seconds!  Geesh!  Of course, after exiting and reloading it, it took about a second, so caching is working fine.  My commit charge was around 840MB before loading it, if that means anything, and I had loaded FF and exited it about a day ago, so presumably, I ran something in the meantime that pushed FF out of cache?  In any event, I don’t see why an app has to take so long to load, even under these conditions. 

I once tried NCQ on a SATA-II based machine running XP Pro 64 bit but there was no dramatic improvement.  As far as I/O multitasking went, the wow factor was pretty well non-existent. 

I’ve always wanted to go SCSI, at least for the main drive, but haven’t partly because I’m concerned about the increase in noise, and partly because of cost.  That’s why I’d love to get opinions on IDE-to-SCSI converters (e.g. http://scsi2ide.com/).  With a decent SCSI controller, would it still be significantly better than IDE alone?

Thanks!
Craig
 
 
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Rad
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #1 - Aug 15th, 2009 at 4:19pm
 
hi.

you're knowledgable about disk-performance factors, so that alone bodes well for a look into scsi .. because the first question you must answer is .. will you be able to take advantage of the performance benefits that scsi offers (primarily blazing-fast seek/acces times).

the other question involves cost and only you know what your finances looks like.

i've not played with scsi for years now, but i recall there were many times when you could feel the power of the beast.

regarding convertors, i've always heard that convertors are all a form of kludge .. and not to expect much from them. maybe sata-to-scsi is different .. but i wouldn't know.

the vast majority of ppl i've talked to all had eyebrow-raising experiences when 'going scsi.' only a handful (less than 5) expressed disappointment.

if i had a desktop pc and the money i definitely would equip it with a fast scsi beast .. to run ,y o/s, apps & swap/page file.

after cost, noise would be the biggest deterent.

do they still have the big totems at stanley park? beautiful city.
 
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Brian
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #2 - Aug 15th, 2009 at 5:25pm
 
@
Craig

Craig wrote on Aug 15th, 2009 at 2:55pm:
My commit charge was around 840MB before loading it, 

That's high. Why?

How fast does Firefox load a few minutes after a reboot? How about the loading time of My Computer a few minutes after a reboot? Which anti-virus app are you using?

From HD Tune, what is the Maximum Transfer Rate of each HD?

Any malware? I know you will have checked.
 
 
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Craig
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #3 - Aug 16th, 2009 at 2:38pm
 
Thanks for the responses!

My high commit charge, 840MB, is expected because I do run a lot of stuff:

Outlook 2003
Word 2003
Visual Studio Team System 2008
AVG 8.5
Apache and IIS (yes, I need both)
Carbonite Backup Service
uTorrent
PeerGuardian
WarFTP Server      
Tight VNC Server
Daemon Tools
Miranda IM

I wish I knew more about memory use but I figure if my commit charge is less than half of my physical RAM (2GB) then page faults will still be minimal.  Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

I don't usually run a virus scanner since I tend to keep my system pretty tight, but I did install AVG recently for a full scan and it found something in an old file.  Other than that, I think the system is clean.  I haven’t run SpyBot or the like but I tend to keep a close eye on my processes.  IMO, the system runs like a typical Windows XP that's both clean and has ample hardware: very well except for disk I/O, especially when I/O multitasking.

My various servers are almost never hit so they won't be slowing things down.  Carbonite is supposed to be a low-priority process so it shouldn't interfere with regular I/O.  I removed both Carbonite and AVG and ran the tests you suggested and the results were the same: after a reboot and after waiting for the drive to calm down completely, Firefox 3.5.2 takes about 15 seconds before it accepts URL input (single blank tab, all add-ons/plugins disabled).  "My Computer" opens in just under 3s.

HD Tune Test Results:

Main drive (OS, apps)
Max: 57MB/s
Avg: 42.4MB/s
Access: 18ms
CPU: 1.5%

Storage drive
Max: 126MB/s
Avg: 100MB/s
Access: 13.6ms
CPU: 2.8%

18ms sounds slow for a main drive.  I actually thought even modest IDE drives made in the last ten years had access times about half that—at least on paper.  I got my friend who owns a WD Raptor to try some of the same tests: 8ms access, 82MB/s max transfer, FF took 6.5s.  Our hardware is pretty closely matched except for that drive.  6.5s is way better, but I still suspect his I/O multitasking is sluggish, though I didn't get him to try that.

Rad, I appreciate your input on the IDE/SATA-to-SCSI converter.  I'd still like to hear from anyone who might have experience with them. 

I still have these questions:

1)      Would there be a significant I/O performance improvement in general if I went to an IDE/SATA-to-SCSI converter?

2)      Would there be a significant performance improvement with the converter, specifically when I/O multitasking (e.g. loading a program during a big copy/delete)?

3)      If I did go with SCSI, what kind of noise increase are we talking about?

4)      Is there a SCSI controller that's a good choice for: decent performance, decent price, decent compatibility?  My understanding is that I should stick with VLD but not necessarily U160?  (What's the one just below that again?)


BTW, yes, Stanley Park still has its totem poles AFAIK, but we're losing the famous 700+ year old hollow tree.  Sad, but it needs to come down.
 
 
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Brian
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #4 - Aug 16th, 2009 at 3:53pm
 
Craig,

My main computer has 2 SATA HDs, WD 640 GB. HDTune Maximum Transfer rate, Access time and CPU usage for each is...

116, 12.2, 3.0
109, 15.8, 2.7

Firefox takes 8 seconds to open on the first occasion. Internet Explorer takes 3 seconds.. Both take 2 seconds on subsequent openings.

My daughter's computer had malware a few days ago. Symantec Antivirus didn't prevent it and couldn't get rid of it. It kept reappearing after a reboot. She also had a popup from the System Tray saying your computer has several viruses and click here for the solution (with the appropriate spelling mistakes). Malwarebytes fixed it. Yesterday my test computer had the same malware. There is no physical or network connection between the two computers. I restore an old basic image to the test computer after playing around and the lifespan of the OS is about an hour. There is no anti-virus or email and Firefox is never run for more than a few minutes. Yet I got a virus.

Just some comments as I don't have an answer. Keep us informed about your progress.

 
 
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Craig
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #5 - Aug 16th, 2009 at 5:37pm
 
Brian wrote on Aug 16th, 2009 at 3:53pm:
There is no anti-virus or email and Firefox is never run for more than a few minutes. Yet I got a virus.


Hi Brian.  I'm not sure why all the info about malware, unless you think maybe my computer has something that's degrading i/o performance.  It's curious about your stand-alone test machine.  The only thing I can figure is there's a latent virus in your image.

I'll keep this thread updated as I learn more about IDE-SCSI converters and SCSI in general.

Craig
 
 
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #6 - Aug 16th, 2009 at 5:56pm
 
Craig,

I've been using the same image for at least a year. I was surprised how easily I got the malware and I was wondering whether malware could explain your problem. Just a thought.

It is suspicious that my daughter and I had the same malware a few days apart but she doesn't use my test computer and neither sees the other on the wireless network. Strange.

I'll run Malwarebytes on the test computer to see if there is a latent virus.
 
 
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Pleonasm
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #7 - Aug 18th, 2009 at 10:38am
 
Craig, based in part upon prior posts by Rad, I made the leap to SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) disk technology -- and it is a delight.  My HP xw4600 Workstation is equipped with Fujitsu SAS disks, using a LSI 3041E 4-port SAS/SATA RAID Card.  Having become accustomed to SAS, I may never return to SATA as a primary hard disk drive technology....

There is an increase in noise with SAS hard disk drives, but it is within the “tolerable” range -- and, you quickly adjust and get used to it.  I did install the Nexus DiskTwin Disk Vibration Dampener on one SAS drive that was noisy, and it made a huge difference.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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Craig
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #8 - Aug 19th, 2009 at 1:22pm
 
Pleonasm - Can you please tell me the model numbers of your drives, and which one was the louder one?
 
 
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #9 - Aug 19th, 2009 at 4:48pm
 
Craig, my workstation contains one Fujitsu MAX3073RC drive (operating system) and two Fujitsu MAX3147RC drives.  The “noisy” drive was one of the latter.  However, the cause of the noise wasn’t the drive per se, but the sound was due to the 3.5” drive being mounted in a 5.25” bay that produced a slight vibration resulting in a resonance with the case.  Again, the Nexus DiskTwin Disk Vibration Dampener corrected the problem.
 

ple • o • nasm n. “The use of more words than are required to express an idea”
 
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Craig
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Re: IDE-SCSI Converters - Still SCSI Beasts?
Reply #10 - Aug 23rd, 2009 at 11:52am
 
Just to follow up (or finish up) I got this response from Addonics:

"Unfortunately the ADSALVD160 will not get the same SCSI drive performance that you expect. The purpose of this converter to enable using SATA hard drive on SCSI port as SCSI drive is difficult to find nowadays. The performance of the drive is at best equal to what the SATA drive can do. The converter cannot improve the performance of a SATA drive."
 
 
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