Need advice for a SCSI controller

smadavid

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Mar 17, 2000
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Hi everyone! I was lucky enough to find a Cheetah 15K.3 18 GB in stock from Newegg just a few minutes ago, so I took the opportunity and snatched one up

Anyway I'm looking for some advice on a controller card. I've haven't worked with SCSI before, so any tips are appreciated. I'll be buying or building (not sure which yet) a new system -- just waiting for the HT-enabled P4s to come out in a few weeks. It'll either be a Granite Bay chipset or 850e w/PC1066, not sure which yet. I'll just be running the single drive (as the boot/software drive -- i'll be using IDE for storage); no RAID. Here's a few questions I've got:

- Which SCSI card would you recommend for the best performance & stability. Preferrably not much over $200 if possible, again it does not need to be a RAID card either.

- Does the 32-bit PCI bus have enough bandwidth for a single 15K.3 drive? Or do I need a board with 64-bit PCI / PCI-X... hopefully not.

- Its an 80-pin drive, is this standard for SCSI -- do I need to look out when buying the controller card, or look for an adapter?

- Any other tips / suggestions?

Thanks for any help, I appreciate it
 

JC

Diamond Member
Feb 1, 2000
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I'd get an Adaptec 29160 card...works in 32- or 64-bit slots (in case of future mobo upgrade ;) I got mine in FS/FT for around $150 used, works beautifully. Another good choice is the Tekram U3W. If you're not running more SCSI devices, an Adaptec 19160 card (32-bit only) would prolly suit your needs.

Don't worry about maxing out the PCI bus- a single drive won't move 133MB/sec.

80-pin is standard SCSI hot-swap. 68-pin is the regular. You'll need an SCA--->68-pin LVD adapter.

Also, don't skimp on the SCSI cable...the extra money is well-spent ;)

JC
 

dszd0g

Golden Member
Jun 14, 2000
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Originally posted by: smadavid

- Its an 80-pin drive, is this standard for SCSI -- do I need to look out when buying the controller card, or look for an adapter?

Well, it is one of the standards. 80-pin is also known as SCA. As I recall it was developed by IBM. The SCA connectors have the power and SCSI Id combined into one connector and it is designed for hot-swap enclosures. I generally go with 68-pin myself. However, you can either purchase a hot swap enclosure for that drive if you like (Those can be quite nice, and you probably want some sort of cooling for that drive anyways), or you can purchase an SCA (80-pin) to 68-pin adapter. No host adapters actually have an 80-pin connector to the best of my knowledge.

As for recommending a SCSI controller. If all you want to put is hard drives and you don't plan on adding SCSI CD or DVD drives, I would recommend the Adaptec 29160. Make sure to get the Retail or White box version that comes with the cables and terminator. If you purchase the OEM version, you will most likely end up spend more than the difference on a good quality SCSI cable and terminator (cheap will cause problems or a performance hit). They start at around $200 on pricewatch, and you will probably end up closer to $250 from a decent vendor.

The 29160LP does not include the internal 50-pin connector (which you would only use for CD/DVD/Tape drives anyways), but no point in not having it. It has a shorter profile than the 29160 (Low profile), but runs about the same price as the 29160 last I checked. No reason to get it, IMO. Even if it was cheaper, I would only get it if you are sure you will never want to use any narrow (50-pin) devices.

The 29160N has one internal 68-pin connector, one internal 50-pin connector, and one external 50-pin connector (narrow).

The 29160 has two internal 68-pin connectors (one Ultra 160 LVD, one Ultra Wide), one internal 50-pin connector, and one external 68-pin connector (wide).

I recommend the 29160 if you will be plugging in any hard drives slower than Ultra 160 at any point or if you want to use external hard drives at any point. Otherwise one can save a little money and go with the 29160N (the price difference is about $20 if the store carries both, but some of the cheaper places only carry the non-N so the cheapest prices are actually on the non-N if that makes any sense).

Does the 32-bit PCI bus have enough bandwidth for a single 15K.3 drive? Or do I need a board with 64-bit PCI / PCI-X... hopefully not.

According to Storagereview, the Cheetah 15K.3 has a transfer rate between 51.1MB/s (end of drive) and 76.4MB/s (beginning of drive) for the 73GB version. The 36GB version probably performs only slightly better than the X15 (45.0MB/s to 60.5MB/s). I don't know what size you got, but even the fastest one will not max out a 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus by itself.

32-bit/33MHz PCI maxes out at 132MB/s.
64-bit/33MHz PCI maxes out at 264MB/s.
64-bit/66MHz PCI maxes out at 533MB/s.

You can do the math and see that with more than two drives one can max out a 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus. With three or more drives one probably would ideally get a dual-channel (Like the Adaptec 39160) host adapter and put it in a 64-bit/66MHz PCI slot or even better get a dual-channel RAID card.

I highly recommend against getting a Tekram (LSI chipset) host adapter as some members of these forums recommend. I have had nothing but problems with them. The following thread illustrates why:
Stop Screen DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL
 

smadavid

Member
Mar 17, 2000
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Thanks for the suggestions, guys, that really helps me out.

Looks like the Adaptec 29160N or perhaps even the 19160 might suit me perfectly, since this is the only device I'll be running on it. Newegg has a 19160 for $185, its OEM, but says it comes with the cable, so I'd be all set there.

As far as the SCA adapter goes, do you think it makes a difference which brand I get? I found one one at cablewholesale.com for $12 or so. If there is an issue with quality here, though I'd rather go with name brand. Any suggestions as to the best place to get cables & adapters?

Thanks again for your help.

Dave
 

dszd0g

Golden Member
Jun 14, 2000
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Make sure that it comes with both the cable and the terminator. Some times sites will say "with cable" and it comes with the cable but no terminator. I highly recommend a good active terminator, but most sites won't say what kind of terminator they are giving you (but with LVD it generally is active, because passive doesn't work too well with LVD, and FPT isn't very common or recommended). OEM with cable generally indicates that it is not Adaptec's cable or terminator, so one has no idea what quality one will get. The picture Newegg shows does have a terminator attached to the cable. That is not the same cable that came with my Adaptec 39160 (which was a twisted cable, where pairs of wires are twisted around each other to reduce noise), but I have no idea if that is the standard 19160 and 29160 cable. They have a different cable (but still not the same as my 39160) for the 29160.

The Retail version of the 29160 comes with a 50-pin cable, a 68-pin LVD cable, and an LVD active terminator.

Mwave has the following:
MWave Adaptec
ADAPTEC 19160 ULTRA160 PCI SCSI KIT (White box w/twist ultra160 cable w/5 end /1 terminator & installation disk) Detail Specs
$185.00 YES

The White box version should have the Adaptec twisted cable. Same price as Newegg. I have never purchased from mWave, but they are one of the sites that is mentioned here from time to time with good resellerratings.
 

smadavid

Member
Mar 17, 2000
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Thanks again for the help. I ended up purchasing that kit from Mwave -- it seemed reasonably priced w/ the cable, terminator and all. Plus they also sell the SCA adapter, so I was able to get everything all at once. I'll let ya know how it goes :)

Dave
 

Whitedog

Diamond Member
Dec 22, 1999
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As far as the SCA adapter goes, do you think it makes a difference which brand I get?
It matters Very much which adapter you get. Make SURE you get one made specifially for U160. I wasted $$ on 4 adapters from Dalco only to find out they worked at 40MB/s only. Doh!

As far as "brand", I'm not sure how much that affects performance... as long as it will work at U160.
 

Whitedog

Diamond Member
Dec 22, 1999
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BTW, I think it's worth the extra $ to go ahead and buy the 68pin Hard drives vs. 80pin... by the time you get the adapter, you've spent the same money anyway and they are much easier to deal with.
My .02 is you only need to buy the 80pin drives if you're going to house the drive in some form of drive caddy. But that's just my .02 ;)

BTW, I've a 19160 and it works Great!