Drive Controllers

The Promise FastTrak S150 SX4 is a drive controller. This add-on card enables one to add up to four more disk drives to a standard PC. A drive controller controls the way data is read from and written to disk drives that are attached to the controller. Most motherboards have a built-in controller, but this controller is an attachment board that can be fitted into an empty (PCI 2.2) slot on the motherboard to be used in concert with, or as a replacement for the built-in controller.

The Serial ATA Interface

The S150 designation of the Promise FastTrak S150 SX4 means that this controller supports disk drives that use the Serial ATA (SATA) interface, which tops out at 150MB per second. Serial ATA is the next major standard for mainstream PC disk drives. The previous standard was Parallel ATA (PATA), whose most recent iteration topped out at 133MB per second.

SATA and PATA are only interface standards, and have nothing to do with the actual capability of the drives. Most current SATA drives are no faster than PATA drives of the same specification. Some of the primary advantages of SATA are listed below.

  • Thin data and power cables, with easier to use connectors.
  • SATA is a point-to-point interface, which means there are no master-slave, daisy-chaining, or termination issues to worry about.
  • Eventually lower cost because fewer wires are required in circuitry.
  • Higher available bandwidth for faster drives in the future.
  • Command-queueing, better error checking, and other advanced features previously available only on server disk interfaces, like SCSI and Fibre Channel.