SATA performance on old ASUS mobo

By fw2004
Nov 19, 2009
  1. Hi;
    I have a system with an ASUS P5AD2-E Premium mobo.
    When I first set up the system, I installed two identical 160GB SATA drives on the Intel ICH6R controller.
    I set it up for RAID0.

    I never had a chance to compare a RAID0 setup with standard SATA (in AHCI mode), so I just assumed that RAID0 was better than standard SATA.

    Now, almost 5yrs later, I have decided to replace the two old HDD's with one SATA II 500GB.
    It's a Western Digital WD5001AALS. It has a 32MB buffer, compared with the old drives with only 8MB buffer.
    All of these drives are 7200RPM.

    My first thought was to buy another of the 500GB drives so I could set up another RAID0 system, but after reading about RAID and controllers, I realize that RAID0 on my system is probably not worth the cost of the second HDD, and I don't need another 500GB of storage. Since both the Intel ICH6R and the SIl3114 controllers are on the PCI, not the PCIE bus, the max transfer rate I can get is about 133MB/sec.

    When I ran HD Tune for Read, I found some interesting things.

    First, when I am running a single SATA II drive (the 500GB) on the Intel controller, it maxes out at about 100MB/Sec.
    But as the test progresses, say after the first minute of testing, the rate drops way down, to about 50MB/sec.

    When I run the same test on the two old drives configured as RAID0 (on the same controller), the rate is more steady at or near 100MB/Sec, but there are frequent spikes downward to 10MB/sec.

    I have found that some of the spikes are due to my running Norton IS 2010 while the test is in progress. Shutting down the IS does reduce the number of downward spikes, but does not eliminate them.

    If I try the single SATA drive on the SIl3114, I get read rate of only 70MB/sec, and it also drops off as the test runs.

    I understand that there is a burst feature built into the Intel (and probably the SIl) controller, but that is good only for what it says; bursts of data.

    What I have concluded is that if I really want great disk transfer rate, I am going to have to replace my mobo to one that has the RAID controller(s) on the PCIE bus.
    At the same time, upgrading the mobo would give me the capability of installing a multi-core processor, more RAM, etc.

    Am I correct about it being a waste of money to buy another 500GB drive (identical to the one I just installed), and configure it for RAID0 on the Intel ICH6R?

    Also, if someone could explain why the transfer rate drops off on the SATA configuration as the test runs.

    Thanks for your help

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