SATA vs. IDE

jamor

I am planning on building a new video-editing system and have never configured SATA devices before.

Does the SATA architecture work in a similar fashion as IDE (i.e., master and slave devices per channel) or are the ports single-homed? I was planning on building a system with RAID 1 OS drives, a separate swap file drive, and RAID 1 data drives. That would use up five ports if they are single-homed. Which brings me to my second question: Is there a benefit to having SATA optical drives or should I put them on the IDE channels?

—Matthew Miller

Matthew, SATA ports are single-homed and single-channel: one drive, one port. So you won’t be able to run master-slave setups via SATA. The good news is that most modern motherboards feature on-board RAID controllers that will make setting up your arrays easy. One note of caution, however: Intel’s ICHR south bridge chipsets won’t let you designate certain ports as SATA and others as RAID after the fact very easily. That is, if you want to start with one drive and later add RAID to the other ports, the drive with the OS on it will usually stop booting because it has to be added to an array. But Nvidia’s chipsets will allow you to, for example, set up four ports as RAID and one as a standard SATA.

There’s no real advantage to running optical drives on SATA as opposed to IDE, provided you can still find a good IDE optical drive. That at least will allow you to free up your SATA ports for your RAID.

Another idea is to grab an inexpensive RAID controller, like the HighPoint RocketRAID 2640x4 to run your RAID, and keep your onboard SATA ports free for your swap and optical drives.

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