SCSI Vs. IDE Bus Mastering For DAWs

by D. Glen Cardenas and Josť M. Catena

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Introduction

Look in any newsgroup devoted to DAW discussion and sooner or later there will be some sort of mention regarding favorite hard disks or preferred disk formatting techniques or optimum parameter settings or SOMETHING about the impact of specific hard drives on the performance of audio streaming. Often, the argument starts with the personal preference between SCSI and IDE disk drives. Why "personal preference"? We think that after going over the data in this article, you will see that there's a lot of room for subjective opinion in this discussion. Far from proving that there is one clear winner between the two, research has proven just the opposite. There is a lot to be said for SCSI. On the other hand, many readers are about to say "A-HA! I knew SCSI was better!" and are about to be disappointed. This will come as a shock to many hard core SCSI advocates - perhaps even an insult! However, before proponents on either side start sending us an HTML flame-thrower, look over the data here and keep an open mind. You, too, may discover things about both formats you didn't know and even more chilling, things about the whole argument that you never took into account before.

One contention with this whole argument has been a blatant lack of fact and information in the discussions seen in many news groups. This article is out to change this by offering a full range of facts, specifications and information from manufacturers, testers and hackers. The facts as we have found them show that either format will work very well in any system, and that one format can have a slight edge over the other if properly set up and under some conditions. This may seem like overkill for a discussion that is destined to be a washout (so to speak), so why bother? Well, even though there may be little advantage to either EIDE or SCSI in most system configurations, there are very important specifications to examine in terms of the drives themselves, and in cases where the format DOES make a difference, it is good to have those facts and a clear understanding of them. Besides, we don't want to offer conclusions without backing them up or it would be just more opinion and nothing else. No thanks. This may be about to rock some people's boats and it should have something to stand on. In the following pages we offer a fair sample of the information gleaned during the past few weeks and over the past several years of looking at this issue. The information is formatted in a way that, hopefully, will provide the reader with a strong overview of all aspects of the issue and any conclusions. Information is power. Click this link and have some juice!