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  1. #1
    Mike
    Guest

    Default Hard drive buffer/cache

    I've just been looking at hard drives and some have 2mb buffer/cache (some places call it buffer, others cache - I'm guessing it's the same thing), and some have 8mb buffer/cache. Why should I go for one over the other (I'm presuming that 8mb is better because it's more expensive LOL although that doesn't always mean it's better).

    Mike.

  2. #2
    -=JM=-
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    Most of the 8MB drives come with a three year warranty as opposed to a one year warranty so this is enough incentive for most users as it is.

    The cache is used for storing a small amount of data, if the CPU needs some data and it has to go out past the memory to the HDD to get it. It will be quicker if it can grab it from the HDDs cache than having to find it on the platters.

    If it's your boot drive or a games/applications drive you could notice a difference. If it's just for miscellaneous storage you probably won't notice much difference.

  3. #3
    Mike
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    Is there really going to be that much difference between 2mb and 8mb though?

    Mike.

  4. #4
    PoWa
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    I got a 120Gb 8mb cache drive and it is a big improvement from my 20gb drive with only 512k cache XP boots up very quickly as well.

    You can get Seagate 120gb, 7200rpm drives with 8mb cache for about $233 from www.pp.co.nz

  5. #5
    Graham L
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    I suppose it depends on the design of the cache management software in the controller. More memory should be better ... probably allowing a whole file to be prefetched on reads, and virtually immediate returns to the OS when writing.


  6. #6
    kiwibeat
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    the bigger the better but you only need it if you have a newish PC and do lots of intensive video or photo work which requires lots of speed

  7. #7
    Mike
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    > the bigger the better but you only need it if you
    > have a newish PC and do lots of intensive video or
    > photo work which requires lots of speed

    So for my little old home PC I could probably happily live with the cheaper 2mb without any issues? I don't do any intensive video or photo work - just home computer stuff like games, surfing, chatting and that's about it... $40 difference is a lot for some people (like me)

    Mike.

  8. #8
    Susan B
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    I have two WD 80GB HDDs, one with 2MB cache, the other with 8MB and on my machine with what I do I have not noticed any difference in speed between the two. You play games, however, and that may make a slight difference but I doubt it would be as significant as like you get with a boost in RAM. If I knew how to test them to compare them I would.

    For me the three-year warranty was the deciding factor but I think you will probably be fine with the 2MB cache version. :-)

  9. #9
    juha
    Guest

    Default Re: Hard drive buffer/cache

    > I've just been looking at hard drives and some have
    > 2mb buffer/cache (some places call it buffer, others
    > cache - I'm guessing it's the same thing), and some
    > have 8mb buffer/cache. Why should I go for one over
    > the other (I'm presuming that 8mb is better because
    > it's more expensive LOL although that doesn't always
    > mean it's better).

    Reading and writing data to and from the platters spinning inside your hard drive will always be much, much slower than fetching and storing it inside RAM buffers. That's why you have a disk cache in your operating system.

    Therefore, yes, an 8MB cache on the drive will speed things up compared to a 2MB one.

    However, there are more factors in the equation such as speed at which data is transferred from the platters (measured in megabit/s) and the speed at which the drive interface shifts data to and from the computer (measured in megabytes/s). Also, the speed at which the platters spin is also important and the data-density per platter also plays a part.

    You'll find that newer, 7,200 rpm drives with an Ultra-ATA 100 or faster interface tend to use the 8MB cache size rather than the 2MB one.

    Given that disk performance is the biggest bottleneck in PCs today, this is an area where you can really notice the difference. I use dual 7,200 rpm Serial ATA drives in RAID-0 configuration, and wouldn't want to go back to single UATA drive set-ups...

    --
    Juha

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