close look at a new ATA/66 Hard Drive from Quantum
Drive technologies seem to leap frog themselves faster than any
other techonolgy in the PC Hardware Arena. What is leading edge
technology today will be "old hat" in a matter of months
when the next level of performance or density is surpassed and
brought to the marketplace. It seems as if 6 month design cycles are
common place for drive makers. One of the main bottlenecks in
traditional drive systems is the bus interface. SCSI has its
advantages over EIDE and vice-versa. The latest evolution in EIDE
technology is supposed to bring this more mainstream drive interface
one step closer to LVD SCSI performance. The ATA/66 interface has a
theoretical peak bandwidth/data transfer rate across the bus at
66Mb/sec. This sounds great but in reality most applications running
on EIDE drives or SCSI drives will never see these peak rates.
However, this new technology SHOULD provide a significant increase
in bandwidth and overall performance, especially as it relates to
multitasking and applications that tend to saturate the bus. Still
sounds pretty good right? Let's see for oursleves.
sent us a Fireball CR 13 Gig, 3.5 " EIDE Drive. Here are the
Fireball CR 13Gig EIDE Hard Drive
Seek Times 9.5 (ms)
Stroke 18.0 (ms)
Rotational Latency (ms) 5.56
Speed (RPM) 5,400
Data Rate (Mb/sec) Up to 194
DMA/66 66.6 Mb/sec
DMA/33 33.3 Mb/sec
Mode 4 16.6 Mb/sec
Mode 2 16.6 Mb/sec
Size (KB) 512
Power on to Drive Ready (sec) 9.5
numbers look pretty snappy for a 5400 RPM drive. 9.5ms access time
is average for this class of drives. That number of 66Mb/sec for
Ultra DMA Interface Data Rates should provide a considerable boost
when multitasking and crunching large amounts of data while loading
an application for instance. However, we all know numbers look good
on paper, so let's see what happens when we spin this new hot rod
Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS, AMD K6(2)-400 Overclocked to 450 MHz.
Leatek WinFast 5300MA Super 7 Motherboard, 64 MB of PC100 CAS2 RAM, Quantum
Fireball CR 13 Gig Hard Drive,
STB Velocity 4400 TNT AGP Video Card, Monster Sound MX300 PCI Audio
Card, Memorex 48X CD ROM, Win 98, Direct X 6.1
99 Results - Quantum Fireball CR 13 GB
99/Business Disk WinMark 99 (Thousand Bytes/Sec)
99/Disk Playback/HE:Visual C++ 5.0 (Thousand Bytes/Sec)
99/High-End Disk WinMark 99 (Thousand Bytes/Sec)
numbers are very impressive. They are significantly better than both
drives we tested not long ago on a Pentium II-515 BX Chipset Based
system. These numbers may have been helped by the AMD K6(2)-450
since it is an excellent Windows performer. There shouldn't be much
a differential however since I am comparing numbers vrs. an
overclocked 515 MHz. P2 ! Unfortunately, the only mainboard
available to us that is Ultra DMA 66 capable was the Super 7 Based
Leadtek board. Intel based solutions are coming on line shortly and
should provide a better comparison. There is one thing for sure...
DMA66 seems to be for real! One note of caution however, along with
the high performance numbers above, came VERY high CPU utilization
numbers as well as access times.
A comparable drive and bus interface in an Intel BX based system
utilizes the CPU only about 5%. I attribute this to a driver
maturity issue with the SIS chipset on the motherboard we used and
perhaps with DMA 66 in general, since it is still in its infancy.
There is definately room for improvement here. I hope the people at
SIS and Intel tighten things up a little for UDMA66. Also, the specs
say 9.5ms typical seek access. We reported 15.1... so much for
typical. There aren't many drive manufacturers that report this
acurrately enough. We hope things improve here too.
I'll sum this
drive up in three words for you.... I'll take it! Although I have
some reservations about the current state of ATA66, this drive is a
clear performer, reaching SCSI type levels. By the way, SCSI also is
a CPU hog. So I guess nothing is for free. The Quantum Fireball CR
is an excellent drive that is a little ahead of its time. It won't
be long at all before UDMA66 matures. This drive would be a wise
investment in the future for you.
the Quantum Fireball CR a "Temp-O-Meter" rating of...
scores are rated on a number of key metrics including performance,
stability, ease of installation, compatibility, feature set, "overclockability"
and component quality. A perfect score is 100 )