ATA Hard Drives are easily the slowest components in today's PCs. They may also be the dumbest and most inefficient, but Native Command Queuing (NCQ) could change all that. By intelligently re-ordering I/O requests, command queuing can make drives smarter, more efficient, and ultimately faster, all without increasing spindle speeds or adding on-board cache. Sweet.
Chipset-level support for NCQ has been around since Intel launched its 900-series chipsets this summer. NVIDIA's new nForce4 chipset also supports Native Command Queuing, as does SiS's latest south bridge chip. Hard drives that support NCQ are also trickling into the market and Seagate has been shipping an NCQ-equipped version of its popular Barracuda 7200.7 Serial ATA hard drive for some time. Our friends at TechReport have snagged a 7200.7 NCQ and run it through an exhaustive suite of benchmarks, putting NCQ to the test against not only queue-less Serial ATA drives, but also a Western Digital Raptor that supports Tagged Command Queuing (TCQ).