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486 & SATA Bridge Board Experiments

creepingnet

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So while in San Jose a couple weekends ago, I bought a SATA to IDE Host Bridge on my first trip to Fry's Electronics to try out some of the excess SATA drives I have laying around on my vintage PCs.

I bought a Kingwin ADP-06 - it has a jumper to allow IDE drives to work on SATA and of course Vice Versa, SATA on IDE.

So tonight I learned a few things on this....

1.) This thing works great, so as long as you use it as a single drive on a single IDE Channel
2.) Yes you can attach a 256GB 6GB/s SSD to a 486 with a VLB IDE Host Controller
3.) The glory of what 24 FAT-16 partitions looks like in Maxblast (the DDO I Used, the drive is a Samsung)

Also, keep in mind, FAT-16, FAT-32, and so on, REALLY waste Partition Space on SSD, my 256GB SSD looks more like a 127GB SSD to the 486. Sheer Lunacy - yes. Fun - yes. Fast....oh heck yes.

Windows 95 OSR 2.5 took me about 20 minutes to install on this setup (my optical drive is a DVD-RW drive) - full featured.....normal time is between 30-45 min.

The real truth will come though when I try some Multitrack recording on this setup :D
 

Chuck(G)

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Careful--I did a lot of buying and trying of the "supposedly working" SATA-to-IDE adapters before I found one that would really work all the time. I have a post from a couple of years back here.
 

SomeGuy

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I had nothing but trouble with those Kingwin things. The Vantec stuff has been much more reliable. Of course, in any PCI system a Via 6421 PCI SATA card has many advantages.
 

creepingnet

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I had nothing but trouble with those Kingwin things. The Vantec stuff has been much more reliable. Of course, in any PCI system a Via 6421 PCI SATA card has many advantages.

The issue I have with the Kingwin is you can only use one device with the IDE channel as there is no Master/Slave jumper like some of the other units have. That means on anything ISA based for the IDE host adapter ie early 486 and older you're stuck using just that HDD by itself.

Interesting Is I do feel a slight speed increase over my IDE drive with 95 on it using the modern SSD in my 486. Boot time is consistently 24 seconds from end of POST to login prompt in 95. I also see some improvement in video as well as games....guess there was some read/write latency still bottlenecking things. Initially I thought I'd see no improvement. Still want to try multitrack recording under this environment in Cakewalk....that's the REAL test. Up to 3-4 channels of real time audio at a time.
 

GiGaBiTe

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The SSD essentially lets the host controller run at maximum speed all the time, it doesn't have to wait on data from spinning rust.

One thing that really impacts IDE speed on old 486s is the CPU itself. Since most 486 IDE controllers didn't support DMA transfers, you were stuck with Programmed I/O, where the CPU had to be burdened with setting up and doing data transfers from the disk controller to wherever it needed to go. So this literally meant that the faster the CPU is, the faster disk speed was. You can observe this by performing heavy disk I/O and then toggling the turbo button if you have one, you could hear the heads on a hard drive speeding up and slowing down moving data around (or the less fun way of just using a benchmark utility.)

A way around this is to eliminate the IDE controller and go with a good SCSI card, where the SCSI host controller and drives were smart enough to be able to do DMA without burdening the 486. This had the added benefit of speeding up programs (sometimes drastically) since the CPU was freed up from having to perform Disk I/O. Unfortunately for this though, SCSI SSDs aren't that common, but there are SCSI2SD card adapters, though they are a tad pricey. SD cards are still far faster than SCSI and wouldn't be your bottleneck.
 
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