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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 16th March, 2005, 10:03 PM
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SCSI... Is it fun?

A friend of mine has a collection of old SCSI hard drives from the late nineties he got from company auctions. He lent me 2 drives and an adaptec scsi controller. I've always wanted to try out a SCSI hard drive, especially for non-work related stuff and see if it makes a difference. The hard drives are both 4GB from 1998. One is a 7,200RPM western digital Caviar and the other is a 5,400RPM IBM DCAS. I thought they could help with overall performance if used for virtual memory. I'm not sure but I heard that SCSI drives don't task the CPU as much as IDE drives.

I've seen some people listing SCSI drives on their setups. What do you think of the idea?

Does anybody know any significant advantages of using a SCSI drive other than for a file server or datacenter ? Would it help with say programming or encoding video ?
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 17th March, 2005, 12:19 AM
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It's true a good scsi controller will put less load on the cpu than ide/sata, but a good sata/ide controller could also be just as effective, and with cpu utilisation only being around 5% with modern drives it's not a huge problem.
I doubt older scsi drives would rival a modern sata drive. A maxtor 10 will give you 65mb/s
Unless you have a few identical drives and good controller to set up a raid array I doubt older drives would be beneficial in a new system
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Old 17th March, 2005, 01:24 AM
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I'm with Graham on this; for a desktop setup (even encoding video) you are better off to spend the money on a good modern SATA or even UDMA66 IDE drive than an older SCSI drive, unless you can pair several older drives with a good SCSI controller and build a RAID array. That's what I've done with my system. I've got about $250 in the controller and drives listed in my sig. When you consider that I am running the equivalent of 150 GB system, and that I purchased this hardware nigh on two years ago, I've got a pretty good value straight up, and on top of that I've got the performance and reliability of a nice RAID array.

In the configuration I've got, my system screams through compiles, compared to the systems I work with at work. For example:

My main workstation at the office is an IBM with a 2.8 GHz PIV, 512 Meg RAM, and a 7200 RPM IDE drive. It takes about 4 minutes to compile, and that is right after doing a drive defrag and having about 30 GB of free space.

The exact same code running on the system in my sig will compile in 44 seconds flat. That's about 5 times faster, and I haven't defragged this system EVER.

My next system will probably be a Hammer (although I haven't ruled Intel out, especially if the Dothans end up being the nice chips they are starting to look like). At that point, I will probably look at a SATA setup, but we will see.
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Old 17th March, 2005, 06:23 AM
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My friend is selling the drives for $15 each as they can't be sold to companies. Plus I get the controller for free. He was telling me the controller was a SCSI-2. How do I know if it's any good for a high performance RAID array? I couldn't tell the model of the controller because there was a sticker over the chip. All I could make out was a****c which probably means adaptec. I hear scsi controllers are pretty expensive, what's the price range for them?
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I'd like a hardware card than can transform random amounts of ****ty plot and dialogue into brilliant stories of planescape: torment proportions. That would truly make games better.
PC Specs:
It's Black. What more do you need to know?
3DMARK05 SCORE: 6038

Last edited by mashakos; 17th March, 2005 at 06:29 AM.
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Old 17th March, 2005, 06:25 AM
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Conventional wisdom is that SCSI excels for simultaneous access by multiple users. For a "normal" user, not so much.
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Old 17th March, 2005, 06:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cloasters
Conventional wisdom is that SCSI excels for simultaneous access by multiple users. For a "normal" user, not so much.
Interesting point. That's because of the low CPU utilisation right? That might come in handy.
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I'd like a hardware card than can transform random amounts of ****ty plot and dialogue into brilliant stories of planescape: torment proportions. That would truly make games better.
PC Specs:
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3DMARK05 SCORE: 6038
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Old 17th March, 2005, 06:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mashakos
Interesting point. That's because of the low CPU utilisation right? That might come in handy.
Actually, it's because the usage patterns of a single individual are generally fairly localized, and so Windows itself is able to deal with them fairly efficiently. File servers, on the other hand, have to deal with lots of accesses from lots of different users. There is no real way to forcast what they are going to do in advance. Since SCSI drives tend to be optimized for performance and sustained throughput, they tend to handle such environments better.

For your other question, you probably have a Adaptec 2940U2 controller (they are quite common in workstations). While not as good as a caching RAID controller like my AMI, it is still a pretty decent controller.

You aren't going to be able to put those drives into a RAID, as they are different manufacturers and different speeds (probably slightly different geometries, too). However, you could probably put your paging file on the 7200 RPM drive and have it dedicated to that function, which would probably improve your system performance a fair amount.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 17th March, 2005, 08:10 AM
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I tested the drive's speed by extracting 164mb worth of files compressed in a 800mb RAR. It took 12 seconds which was pretty impressive. Not a huge difference in DOOM 3 loading times, but I guess that's due to the game being installed on the IDE drive.

How much of a bottleneck can an IDE drive be to a sci drive's performance?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApeTheDog
I'd like a hardware card than can transform random amounts of ****ty plot and dialogue into brilliant stories of planescape: torment proportions. That would truly make games better.
PC Specs:
It's Black. What more do you need to know?
3DMARK05 SCORE: 6038
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 17th March, 2005, 10:33 AM
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Personally, I wouldn't use drives of that age for anything much more than swap or temporary files. In those cases it's more the additional disk rather than it's interface.

The biggest difference that I see between SCSI and IDE is the tuning of the drive's firmware. SCSI drives are tuned up for multiuser access, whereas IDE drives are tuned up for single user access. This is why often IDE drives can perform pretty closely compared to SCSI in desktop use. Move to server, and IDE drives (even the SATA Raptors) fall away to the SCSI drives.
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 17th March, 2005, 11:01 AM
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For $30, it's not a bad deal. I don't need extra space and if it gives me the same paging performance of a SATA drive why not?
The cool thing is that I now have a scsi controller for free!
A network admin I know was saying that server hardware was built to last. I figured the hard disk won't be as unreliable as a 1998 IDE drive. If I get 2 caviars and make them into a RAID0 array, won't that make a good performance drive for virtual mem?


During disk verification at the scsi bios, I got a few bad sector errors with a prompt asking me to reallocate the sector or something. Does that mean the scsi bios marked the sector as bad or what? I don't know how to recover from a page file crash!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApeTheDog
I'd like a hardware card than can transform random amounts of ****ty plot and dialogue into brilliant stories of planescape: torment proportions. That would truly make games better.
PC Specs:
It's Black. What more do you need to know?
3DMARK05 SCORE: 6038
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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 17th March, 2005, 11:09 AM
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If you're seeing bad sectors, then I'd recommend junking the drive. Reallocation means that the drive itself will map out the bad sector, and use one of it's spare sectors (if it has any left). This does have an impact on performance.

In terms of paging performance, you won't see the same performance as a modern drive. The drives you currently have will be way down on performance, just in the same way that a 7 year old processor will be way down in performance.
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Old 17th March, 2005, 10:00 PM
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Junk the drives? But I want SCSI!

My friend was telling me about a utility he has that can manage this bad sector issue. I'll hold on to the drives even if they're useless. I'll get to learn how to handle scsi and not make a dumb decision next time which is still an advantage.
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Originally Posted by ApeTheDog
I'd like a hardware card than can transform random amounts of ****ty plot and dialogue into brilliant stories of planescape: torment proportions. That would truly make games better.
PC Specs:
It's Black. What more do you need to know?
3DMARK05 SCORE: 6038
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Old 17th March, 2005, 10:06 PM
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Bear in mind that by the time the drive reports a bad sector and maps it out, the thing has tried like 7 or 10 things to use the sector reliably. If it is having to map out multiple bad sectors, then you need to replace it, because it is quite likely that the electronics are about to die.

Now, learning how to handle SCSI; that's another matter entirely, and the drives could certainly be usefull in that regard.

Be aware, however, that Ultra-2 and below SCSI drives do NOT interoperate well with Ultra-160 and Ultra-320 controllers. Some U160 and U320 controllers will allow you to force them back to Ultra-2 mode; some won't. There is a difference in the way that the SCSI collision domains are handled that causes heartburn there, IIRC.
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Old 17th March, 2005, 11:07 PM
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My experience with Ultra-2 drives on U160 and U320 controllers is lots of phase errors and gross signal integrity problems. So much so, that some controllers I've used refused to speak to the Ultra-2 drives.
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Old 18th March, 2005, 08:01 PM
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I found that I'm using an Adaptec AHA 2940UW.

Is that an Ultra-160 ?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApeTheDog
I'd like a hardware card than can transform random amounts of ****ty plot and dialogue into brilliant stories of planescape: torment proportions. That would truly make games better.
PC Specs:
It's Black. What more do you need to know?
3DMARK05 SCORE: 6038

Last edited by mashakos; 18th March, 2005 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 18th March, 2005, 08:49 PM
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The 2940UW is wide Ultra-SCSI (40 MB/S transfer rate). A good little adapter in its day.
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Old 18th March, 2005, 09:56 PM
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I found that the hard disk I had was a Western Digital Enterprise. It's a single-ended Ultra Fast Wide SCSI-3, at least that's what it says on the label.

Now it's burnt out. I repositioned it inside the case and a fizzling sound came from the power connector followed by an error stating that I have lost the page file.

That's what I get for talking about how useless Macs are!!!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApeTheDog
I'd like a hardware card than can transform random amounts of ****ty plot and dialogue into brilliant stories of planescape: torment proportions. That would truly make games better.
PC Specs:
It's Black. What more do you need to know?
3DMARK05 SCORE: 6038
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Old 19th March, 2005, 01:08 AM
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Ouch, I once killed a Micro Science HDD the same way - gads did I just type Micro Science? I've been at this too long lol.
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