IDE drives (more properly called ATA drives) have come a long way since they were first introduced in 1985 as a replacement for the ST-506/412 interface. Today, one can find 512k buffers, 5400 RPM speeds, sub 10ms seek times, and the much ballyhooed UltraATA 33 MB/sec transfer rate. We also stand before yet another advance; Seagate’s latest Medalist Pro and IBM’s Deskstar 14GXP promise 7200 RPM rotation speeds. As is often the case though, higher figures in popularly quoted specs don’t always seem to correlate to better benchmark figures. Although there are some 8 GB drives available and many > 8 GB products have been announced, the 6.4 GB capacity is the highest at which every major manufacturer is currently shipping at least one drive.

Initially we began testing these drives using Intel’s PIIX v3.01 Bus Mastering Drivers. After the initial benchmarking was completed, however, we found, as have many others, that the default drivers in Windows 95 OEM Service Release 2 provide better performance with DMA enabled.

For this test, we used an ABIT LX6 motherboard (v1.1, bios v C7Q), a 266 MHz Intel Pentium II processor, a 64MB 10ns SDRAM DIMM, and a Matrox Millennium II PCI 4MB (bios v1.2, PowerDesk v3.80).

Quantum Bigfoot

A notable omission in this review is Quantum’s Bigfoot TX 6.4GB unit. The 5.25" form-factor Bigfoot is positioned as an low-cost alternative to traditional 3.5" low-profile drives. The Bigfoot is not intended to be a high-performance drive, however, and lags significantly behind 3.5" drives in performance.

The Bigfoot is the drive most commonly found in major retail-brand systems such as Compaq and Hewlett-Packard. Expect a review of the Quantum Bigfoot on Anand Tech Affiliate: The Storage Review in the near future.

The boot drive (Western Digital Caviar AC31600) contained Windows 95 OSR 2.1 patched with Intel’s 82371xB INF Update and Microsoft’s REMIDEUP.EXE fix. The test drive in question was the sole device located on the secondary controller built into the motherboard. The drive’s DMA box under System Properties’ Device Manager was checked. The tests were run at 1024x768 with 24 bit color at 85 Hz using small fonts. ZDBop’s Startup Manager was used to prevent loading of background applications. ZDBop’s WinBench 98 v1.0’s Disk Test Suites were run on all test drives.

Fujitsu MPB3064AT
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