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Hardware tech wizards: SCSI Ultra160 RAID 0 w/ Cheetah

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I might just do it! It appears you can get a single channel 32bit SCSI Ultra 160 RAID controller from Adaptec for about $325, and about $350 each for two 15K rpm Seagate Cheetah SCSI160 drives with 3.5ms access times. This appears to be the fastest I/O solution today, and from the looks of it these drives are built well to endure warmer temps. They are warranteed for 5y I believe. So for ~$1000, one can have some serious storage, albeit expensive. Maybe pick up a zip drive for backups, or a slower ATA drive to back up critical files with.I don't know much about SCSI, but is it less CPU intensive vs EIDE/ATA? If so I might just go for it on my TBA dream machine. I am fighting the urge to upgrade until TBred is out for a bit, and P4 prices drop. I will strike when Athlon can do somewhere around 22-2300 actual clockspeed, or P4 close to 3GHz (overclocked or stock).Tell me your thoughts about SCSI160 in a game machine. Are there other problems with using SCSI? Again, it seems the drives are perhaps of higher quality due to the server environments they live in and their higher cost. I think the MTBF rating on the Cheetah or Fujitsu's new 15K drive is around 1,200,000 hours . . .Noel

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Noel,For some time, my thinking has been along similar lines. I first realised the enormous improvement storage made when I bought my first ATA 7200 RPM HD back in December 2000 to use with CFS2. There was an immediate and massive improvement, even though I had 256MB of RAM at the time, which was plenty back then when using Win98 lite. It is clear that no matter how much RAM you have, FS will still always be performing very small I/Os all the time. The more RAM you have, the less obvious these seeks are, but they still happen. The difference fast storage makes is also proven when you start to really fill up your hard drive, as the I/O rate on the inner tracks is always much slower than the outer tracks. So I agree, a fast storage solution has an awful lot going for it. With SCSI drives quite reasonably priced now, in OZ it would be possible for me to get SCSI storage (albiet only 18GB but that is plenty for my gaming rig which only uses around 5GB) for the same price as many high capacity ATA solutions.However, all may not be what it seems with SCSI, even more so when it comes to gaming. SCSI was primarily aimed at the multi-user / server market, and not so much the single user. If you go to www.storagereview.com, you will be able to compare many drives - ATA, SCSI, and get some idea of how they may perform. According to this website (which is very well respected), you might actually benefit more nowadays from buying a very high capacity ATA drive such as the latest WD 120GB (just an example) rather than a SCSI drive. Infact, according their gaming benchmarks, that WD drive I mentioned actually tops their scores ahead of all SCSI drives.Back to the "reality" of FS, I am not sure myself what to make of these reviews and benchmarks. For example, according to Tom's Hardware, there wasn't really any point in buying 128MB Geforce cards compared to 64MB Geforce cards, as they didn't seem to benchmark any better. However, there have been enough people come on the boards here to debunk that theory when running FS2002. So not withstanding Storage Review's evaluations, perhaps SCSI does benefit the FS community - just like 128MB Geforce cards do - even though the results of benchmarking and reviews may often indicate otherwise.Certainly to my small way of thinking, a very fast seek time and high RPM would HAVE to improve FS performance, particularly in terms of smoothing things out (ie at those times when the HD access gets a little busier than normal).So far as I am aware, SCSI does actually come with a higher system overhead than ATA, so it is a case of swings and roundabouts. It is pity no one seems to have performed objective FS2002 testing using both the latest in ATA vs SCSI in an otherwise identical rig and using the identical FS2002 configuration settings in each case. I would love to know the answer, as a new storage solution is my next intended upgrade as well.

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Jon,After more web surfing on this topic it seems an excellent choice overall would be the Seagate X15 Cheetah, in 18 or 36GB flavors. I read some good reviews on SCSI RAID 0 vs no RAID. The X15 in a no RAID SCSI 160 setup offers one screaming I/O solution. The benefits of this drive in a RAID 0 array were IMO negligible. There was a benefit of DECREASED CPU utilization with the RAID setup, but again I/O was not that different percentage wise. It seems Seagate with this 2nd gen 15K drive has set a new standard for speed and reliability.I'm thinking now just a SCSI 160 or 320 controller, non raid, would be fine for my needs. The other stuff I've read says in real world terms the spin rate and platter density are the main issues for access and transfer rate. As you say, it would be great to hear some testimony on how FS does with SCSI 160 drives.Noel

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I hate to play the chicken, but are you prepared to be the guinea pig and try this then??? :-) Sounds like you actually need a storage upgrade whereas for me it would be a luxurious performance improvement (well, one would hope so). Not that I'm at all nervous about forking out $700 odd Australian dollars of course ;-) :-lol

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I was in the same boat as you and made the same decision you're contemplating. Let me tell you...it makes a HUGE difference. No more pauses or stutters caused by HD access (ATC in FS2K was a problem before I did this). Programs load CRAZY fast too. I'll never look back. You can get great prices online at www.hypermicro.com - I got an Adaptec 19160 U160 controller (whitebox with cables at $185), a Cheetah X16 36LP (18G for $209), and a Plextor Ultramax40 CDROM ($80)for around $500 shipped! Don't get anything other than an Adaptec controller because they have the best driver support. Also, I wouldn't combine ATA with SCSI - most people that have problems seem to be associated with the combination of the two...go all SCSI (that's why I got the Plextor - FASTEST CD-ROM I've ever seen). One last thing - just to be safe order an active HD cooling fan...they only run around $15-25 and will protect your investment. Good luck...I'm sure you'll like it. Gino Coughran

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Gino,Thanks a lot for that feedback. I got very excited reading your post until I got to the bit about ATA CD ROM drives. I think I would have to draw the line at changing a relatively slow (but perfectly functioning) CD ROM drive in order to have SCSI all round. I just about never have to use the drive except when re-loading windows and my sims or (very rarely) some trial software from a PC magazine CD. This effectively means I use my CD ROM drive hardly ever. I never actually thought incompatibility might be an issue here. Maybe I can ask around the ASUS forums as to whether people are using my existing hardware but with SCSI HD. Do you have any links to that info about possible problems using ATA CD drives with SCSI HDs? Thanks.

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I'm glad I could help. As for the CD-ROM - I don't think you'd have a problem with an ATA/IDE CDROM - I just wouldn't mix HD's, especially if you have onboard ATA100/133 controllers (Promise, etc.). You can always try it out and see if you run into problems. I wanted to eliminate any CD-ROM access problems as well (don't happen in many apps) so I went for it. Hope it all works out for you...keep me posted.Best regards,Gino

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From the old school of Atari, I knew nothing but SCSI.All my systems since have been based on SCSI drives.I am using an adaptec 29160 with 3 IBM drives2 DNES-318350W - 36.7G each 10000 speed and1 DDYS-T36950N - 18.0g 7500I couldn't be any happier, FS2K2 accessing the drives is great, my video capturing and burning runs beautifully, and I can boot up from any drive I choose to. SCSI gives you more flexibility.Abe

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Wow thanks for these replies.Gino & Abe, Tell me about noise issues with the X15 drives. I'm thinking of picking up two of them, and do you agree SCSI RAID is probably not worth contemplating? The Adaptec SCSI RAID controllers are a bit more $$ I from what I'm reading it's not really necessary for my use.Also, do you mind posting a bit of info on what it takes, in very general steps, to install Win98 on a new SCSI drive? Do I still use FDISK? If I have a SCSI CDRom, how does one load the drivers in order to load the Win98 CD installation?One last question if you will: Adaptec makes the 19160 U160 controller, but is there a need for a 64-bit PCI controller like their Adaptec SCSI Card 29160 which sells for another $100? Probably not, but just checking with the experts . . .Thanks a lot and I think you've made the decision for me. I think the combination of not too awful price, more reliability and better speed sounds like a good set of reasons to go for it. Do let me know about how obnoxious the noise is. Noel

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Do a quick check on http://www.storagereview.com/ They do a review of Seagates "Cuda" line of drives, which are more like a value line of SCSI drives. Pretty much in everything but in a server applicaticaton the good old ATA100 drives beat the SCSI's. They also have a data base where you can compare drives. Unless you buy the very high end model of the Cheeteh line with a very hefty price you can get very comparable results with the faster IDE drives. You also don't point out any system specs, if you have a mid range system you won't notice the faster drives as much. If thats the case heck you could get the top end IDE drive, Top end CPU and motherboardram and get overall better FS2K2 performance for your 1 grand outlay. just my opinion...Scott.

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