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Topic: How many hard drives is optimum?

  1. #1

    How many hard drives is optimum?

    Hi all

    I need to build a single PC solution that will be able to play back a large Gigasample or Halion sample whilst also recording it and 6 other audio channels at the same time. My current decisions:

    P42.4Ghz, 1Gb DDR RAM, Intel 845 with 2 IDE channels, CDRW, 80 Gb7200 2Mb HD (I already have this from a previous PC), M-Audio 1010lt & Audiophile sound cards.

    Would I be better off having 1 drive for the os, another for halion/giga playback and a third for audio recording? I only have two IDE channels...

  2. #2

    Re: How many hard drives is optimum?

    Would I be better off having 1 drive for the os, another for halion/giga playback and a third for audio recording?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">You definetely have the right idea, unfortunately slaving one hard drive through one of the ide channels kind of kills performance a bit. It sounds like you already know this as you have stated that you only have two ide channels.

    One option would be to get a PCI hard drive controller card. This will effectively give you an extra two IDE channels. This is a very effective way to go. Some of my I.T. friends argue that these cards give better performance than an IDE controller built into the motherboard.

    One other thing to consider though, how much recording do you envisage doing? Also, how many tracks would you record at once? If you are working primarirly with samples and recording say one live instrument, I think you could probably get by with a 2 h.d. setup.

    I must admit I havent tried this personally so perhaps others could comment on this. I do currently run one hard drive for windows/apps and one for playing all of my samples and so far my system hasnt even raised a sweat.

    Oh, one final thing, my first h.d. is a 40 gig for windows/apps as mentioned above. THe second samples drive is also 40gig except that I created a 2 gig partition on it and made that my virtual memory/swap file for windows. I have noticed a huge gain in performance of my machine.

    Hope this helps, Scott.

  3. #3

    Re: How many hard drives is optimum?


    This can definitely work, I\'ve done it here on 2 drive systems with substantially less performance than yours (p3\'s, 500 & 933 MHz).

    To do this, GS always plays from the second drive, and I record to the system drive. My sytems are win98se, lots of RAM and no substantial background tasks, so the system drive is pretty much unused while I record multiple tracks to it, no swapping or tasks launching.

    So the crucial things: Make sure your drives are not encumbered, ie all IDE masters with no slaves. If you slave the CDR to the system drive, you better know whether your controller sets the interface standard to something lower (ie whatever the ATAPI standard is) or whether it can use a different interface for the master and your quiescent CDR slave (most interfaces don\'t do this). If you can\'t get adequate recording performance from the system drive in this configuration, I\'d recommend getting a Promise ATA100 controller or equivalent, and putting your GS drive on this.

    If your system is more heavy weight than mine such that you can\'t record to the system drive (perhaps because of winXP or Halion or whatever) you might need 3 drives, just remember, any slave might kill the performance of its master (if they have different interface standards) and you can only use master or slave at 1 time, 2 drives on 1 cable will not improve throughput.

    Addressing some of the other comments here:
    > friends argue that these cards give better performance than an IDE controller
    > built into the motherboard

    I\'ve tested them under both win98 and freeBsd unix, it\'s a mixed bag! Some of my benchmarks will be faster on the external controller, some internal. And there are oddities, like copying a file from a drive on the internal to a drive on the external controller under win98 will be slower than copying within either single drive, despite the fact that the read and write are sequential, and the 2 drive copy SHOULD be the fastest case. Anyway, I\'ve never had a problem with the Promise controllers, they work well.

    As for serial ATA, I wouldn\'t choose to be the early adopter for a GS system. Probably I\'m just paranoid, but you\'ve got 1st gen drive firmware, new controllers, and new drivers to go along with one of the most demanding applications. It\'s easy enough to build a solid GS system using proven technology, let others take the early adopter arrows!

  4. #4

    Re: How many hard drives is optimum?

    Thanks for the replies guys. Sam I would expect the cache on the HD to give a falsely high performance reading on intra-drive file copy. Today I ordered a WD 120Gb 8Mb 7200 RPM hard drive and when that arrives, I\'ll do some experimenting. I\'m hoping that drive 1 should be able to cope with the system + cubase/logic and that drive 2 will be left free for giga/halion/whatever. Am a little worried about the impact of my CDR - will investigate further. Once again - thank you.

  5. #5

    Re: How many hard drives is optimum?

    > I would expect the cache on the HD to give a falsely high performance

    Just make sure the file is big enough to overwhelm the cache. If the the file is a gigabyte, you know that > 99% of the data is coming off the drive, not simply out of the cache. I always do this for my own benchmarks, and the anomalous behaviour I noted for a 2 IDE drive copy is quite different than what I\'ve seen between 2 SCSI drives, or between a SCSI and an IDE drive, copying in either direction. Also worse than the 1 drive copy that overwhelmed the cache. Puzzling, but since it has never affected any DAW related performance I didn\'t really investigate.

    It\'s possible that my info on slave drives is out of date, maybe you\'re OK if you have a \"modern enough\" mobo, drive, CD, & OS. Anyway, it should be easy enough to test the performance of both configurations during the course of installation. And if you do need more IDE master controllers, it should be less than $30 USD (see pricewatch), not too prohibitive.

    If you run some tests, I\'d be interested in the result.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Chandler, Arizona

    Re: How many hard drives is optimum?

    You may want to look into the Intel 845PE chipset boards that include Raid. Many have the faster serial ATA ports plus the standard 2 hard drive ports.

  7. #7

    Re: How many hard drives is optimum?

    I want to install a third hard drive on my computer (P4, 1.4, 1 gig ram, W2K, Cakewalk Home Studio, Gigastudio 160, 40 + 80 gig Seagate Barracuda).

    If I install a PCI adapter card for extra devices, how would I configure this? I assume that I should keep one hard drive for the programs (for GS, Cakewalk, W2k) and on the other two hard drives I would have my gig files exclusively. Should I have all the drives connected to the adapter card or keep the program drive connected to the mobo and the two other gig drives connected to the adapter card?

    How important is it to have the same kind of hard drive paired on the PCI adapter card? For example, my main gig drive which holds my samples is an 80 gig Seagate. Should I get the same drive for the other drive that will hold samples?

    Would I need to install an extra fan? I have a mid-size tower.

    What about this card: Maxtor Ultra ATA/133 PCI Adapter Card?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.


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