Serial ATA, and why I can't find some info

Okay, I’m looking for something really simple here.

I’m putting together a template machine with some variable configurations.

The dual-processor motherboard I’m using has 2 SATA connectors on it. It also, naturally, has two IDE connectors on it.

Now, as anyone who deals with PCs knows, you can put a slave and a master on each of those two IDE connectors.

But what’s the deal with SATA? Is it just a matter of 2 connectors - 2 drives? Are there 7-shaped connectors or something?

See, I was planning on having an IDE boot drive. Then the data (video) would be stored on, say, SATA drives 1 and 2. Cool. Happy. Great.

But can I go with more SATA drives beyond those first two, if I wanted to put a terabyte into the thing? Why can’t I find any info on this?


I can’t directly answer your question, as I haven’t had any dealings with SATA yet, but I find that the best place to ask such a question is over at the forums at They have never let me down on a computer question.

To my knowledge, SATA (the current standard) is a 1-1 relation ship. So in your case, if you have 2 IDE channels, you could have a max of 4 IDE drives and 2 SATA.

My Gigabyte mobo (8KNXP) has 4 IDE channels and 4 SATA channels, so I could have 8 IDE drives and 4 SATA. I currently only have 1 SATA HD and a burner and DVD drive running on two of my IDE channels.

Hope this helps…


Honestly, if the answer is that it’s a 1:1 relationship, that helps completely and totally. Can’t believe how hard it was to find that answer. Still haven’t, short of here.

The next question is how you like your Gigabyte board. It looks like I missed that one when I was looking around. I had settled on an ASUS PC-DL Deluxe board with dual Xeons, but the 4 SATA channels (meaning I could get to 1TB storage on the SATA alone with current available drives) is tempting. Now I suppose I need to find benchmarks with Dual Xeons on the ASUS and Dual PIVs on the Gigabyte…



Of course, were I to pull my head out of my ass for a minute, I would see that you never actually said that your 8KNXP had dual processors…

-Joe, dumbass

I have a 8KNXP, love the thing.

I haven’t messed around with the SATA stuff though.

Why do you plan to boot from the IDE drive? Aren’t the SATA drives going to be faster?

I had the same question. A configuration I’ve seen a few times now (haven’t even touched SATA yet, myself) is to have the OS and programs on a faster SATA drive (10,000 RPM Raptor, maybe?) and use the larger, cheaper, and slower IDE drives for mass storage.

SATA is definitely a point-to-point setup. One header to one drive. There are no master or slave designation on SATA drives, although some of them still have jumper blocks on the back.

Theoretically SATA is a faster protocol, but most drives can’t really take advantage of the extra bandwidth. Those Western Digital Raptors, though, are true screamers! On all the computers I’ve built recently, I set up one of those as the boot drive, and then use other drives for mass storage. It works out very well, and you can actually discern the faster boot/system drive under some circumstances. The only downside (and not much of one) is that you have to use a floppy disk with the SATA driver on it during the initial OS setup phase as the drivers aren’t built into any current version of windows.

I’ve also used quite a few Gigabyte motherboards with good success. But if you are seriously looking at dual Xeon configurations, I would suggest you also consider dual AMD Opteron computers. I was recently able to build a very nice dual processor computer based on the Opterons for several hundred dollars less than an equivalent dual Xeon setup. The Opterons tend to be cheaper per than the Xeon they perform most closely too.

Actually, there’s a lot of work going on for SATA II which will allow single host ports to connect to many SATA drives. You could find out more here.

Wow, that’ll be a pretty nice system. . . I really like SATA already. But I gotta say, the main thing I’d be interested in is a similar system for optical drives. Anything that rids us of those unwieldy ribbon cables! I do have rounded IDE cables for my CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives, but they still aren’t as tidy as those tiny SATA cables. Anyone know if there is work towards optical drive support for a future version of SATA?

For those not in the know about SATA, the cables are much thinner and more flexible than older style flat-ribbon IDE cables. They are only about as thick as a phone cord and maybe twice as wide. They are generally much easier to route and arrange inside a crowded computer case and they don’t greatly impede airflow.