ATA vs. AHCI performance

Discussion in 'Dell Inspiron and Dell Studio' started by Atriya, Dec 22, 2008.

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  1. Atriya

    Atriya Notebook Geek

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    I've got a Dell Inspiron 1520 laptop (purchased after an extended discussion on this forum). It has a SATA hard drive that can be set to either ATA (compatibility) or AHCI (native) mode in the (A09) BIOS. I use Windows Vista x86 and can get it working in either mode.

    However, I'm having problems with the Intel Matrix Storage Manager drivers (tried both the Dell 7.0 drivers and the latest 8.6 ones) in AHCI mode; my HDD stalls with the light on every 5-10 minutes for about 30-45 secs and I get the "Device\Ide\iaStor0 did not respond" error in the Windows Event Log. In spite of intensive Googling, I've been unable to find a solution to this problem. I thus have 3 choices:

    1) Use the drive in ATA mode (no problems).
    2) Use the drive in AHCI mode without Intel drivers (no problems).
    3) Use the drive in AHCI mode with Intel drivers (problems need solving).

    What do you folks suggest? In particular, are there any tangible benefits in using AHCI mode? I've read about features like NCQ (native command queuing) and flash cache module, but do they provide any real performance increase? Also, are these features used if I use AHCI mode without the Intel drivers? As an aside, I've noticed a slight increase in boot time when using AHCI mode. However, my Vista HDD performance index goes up 4 points (!) in AHCI mode.

    Getting the best performance possible is important to me. Apart from web-surfing and audio/video playback, I use the laptop for playing (heavy) games.
     
  2. bigdarkmad

    bigdarkmad Notebook Evangelist

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    I'm on ATA because http://wdc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wdc.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1414

    My performance is fine!
    I'm still waiting for FIX from Dell but It works fine
     
  3. RacerX1

    RacerX1 Notebook Enthusiast

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    Are you loading these drivers after a system reload or driver update. If doing a system reload read the Dell Bloatware sticky because you need to load these at the very beginning of the Vista load. Reloading just the driver shouldn't be necessary because they haven't been updated from dell, so you have the current ones on there all ready. I just did a full reload this weekend and loading those drivers at the beginning of the Vista load worked perfectly.
     
  4. frazell

    frazell Notebook Deity

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    Didn't you answer your own question? The benefit to ACHI is increased performance. All the fancy features like NCQ and etc. revolve around that basic concept.

    You said you have increased performance in ACHI, so what are you asking that you didn't already answer?
     
  5. Jason Novak

    Jason Novak Notebook Consultant

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    I recently re-installed my desktop and decided to go AHCI ... I later switched back. AHCI slowed down boot times, and many benchmarks show no real performance benefits (sometimes it's slower) unless you doing more server-oriented tasks. It also caused problems with some DOS-based partition and management software I used. Main benefit I see to using AHCI is you can hot swap esata drives ... otherwise you have to reboot first.
     
  6. Atriya

    Atriya Notebook Geek

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    RacerX1, do you mean loading the AHCI drivers DURING the Vista installation, using the 'Load Drivers' method? I haven't tried that... I think I'll give it a shot.

    frazell, I don't recall saying that I get increased performance in AHCI. I said that AHCI gives me:
    a) increased boot time = slower boot = BAD
    b) a substantially higher Vista HDD experience index, which does NOT imply any real visible performance increase.
    Also, that the benefit of AHCI is increased performance is by no means an established fact, at least for desktop use, as Jason Novak's post shows.

    Jason Novak, I'm getting slower boot times too, but most recent benchmarks do show an increase in performance, even for desktop use, due to the high level of multi-tasking typical use involves these days.

    Still confused!
     
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