Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 6800
 

Introduction
Available at capacities up to 27.3 GB, this 7,200RPM blend of performance and economy employs Maxtor’s unique DualWave™
multi-processor controller for an up to 10x boost in command speed. Add to that a fast 2 MB 100 MHz SDRAM cache buffer and UltraDMA 66 interface to enhance data throughput and you can get an idea of the performance of Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus 6800. The drive also features Maxtor’s enhanced ShockBlock ™ design, which provides superior protection from damage during shipping and installation, so you can be sure the drive you get will work first time every time.

As its name indicates, this newest Maxtor features 6.8 gigs per platter and comes in 6.8, 10.2, 13.6, 20.4 and 27.3GB capacities. The DiamondMax Plus 6800 line also boasts an average latency time of 4.18ms and an average seek time of <9ms. This coupled with the high (7200rpm) speed rotation of the platters would probably all be for naught were it not for the large 2MB cache and Maxtor's proprietary DualWave controller designed to take advantage of it.

Maxtor's DualWave™ Controller
   The typical IDE desktop disk drive uses a single onboard processor to handle tasks such as seeking, error correction, host command processing, caching, reading, writing and data flow. Each of which requires a significant amount of processing power which which, when tallied up can lead to performance degradation. SCSI devoces designed for high-end server and workstation machines address this issue by means of the addition of a second processor and this is what Maxtor has accomplished in its new DualWave controller. Built upon 3.3V 0.25 micron semiconductor technology, this new architecture is the next generation of disk drive electronics. The Maxtor proprietary design incorporates both a high performance Texas Instruments DSP (Digital Signal Processor) that controls the actual disk functions (servo, reads and writes, ECC, etc.) and a Maxtor designed 50 MIPs RISC processor that is optimized for storage I/O and is dedicated to processing host commands. This results in significant improvement as to performance over previous generations of disk drive controllers. This is due in part to the dual processor architecture but also from a 90% reduction in command processing overhead with the dedicated RISC processor 

   The Maxtor DualWave controller also features support for UltraDMA 66 host interface, which transfers data to and from the host at 66 megabytes per second. However, being able to support UDMA66 is only part of the equation for higher performance. Optimizing the internal architecture of a disk controller is critical in order to take advantage of the increase in bus bandwidth that UDMA-66 provides. Demanding environments such as Microsoft's Windows NT or Windows 9x and multimedia applications require high data throughput that does not stop at the host interface but continues through the disk drive's internal data paths.

With dual processors and internal data paths capable of supporting data transfers of over 170 MB/s, the DualWave controller is an architecture that will be ready for the interface technologies that lie beyond UDMA66.

2MB Cache Buffer
Computers tend to access data from a disk drive sequentially, using "pre-fetching" your hard drive not only reads the requested data blocks, but will read extra data blocks and store them in the buffer in anticipation of the host computer needing the next block of data. This is especially true of gaming and multimedia (audio & video) applications. If the next request from the host find the data required in the cache buffer the entire process is speeded up tremendously as the interface can read from the cache as fast as it can push the data to the host - 66MB/s, so having a large cache can help to make sure that the data is available. The Maxtor DualWave controller has the ability to support 2 MB of cache, assuring improved read and write performance. In addition to supporting larger buffers, the Maxtor DualWave supports the use of 100 MHz SDRAM for the buffer

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 6800 Specifications

Performance Specifications
   Seek Times (Typical)

Track-to-Track 1ms
Average <9.0ms
Maximum <20.0ms
Average Latency 4.18ms
Rotation Speed (+/- 0.1%) 7200 RPM
Controller Overhead <0.3ms
Start Time (0 - Drive Ready) 7.3 sec. Typical

Data Transfer Rate

To/From Interface Up to 66.7MB/s
To/From Media Up to 33MB/s

Drive Configuration

Integrated Controller ATA 4 / UDMA66
Buffer Size 2MB
Buffer Type SDRAM (100MHz)
Sectors Per Track 266-462
Track Per Surface (cylinders) 17,549
Data Zones Per Surface 16
Bytes Per Sector Block 512

Reliability Specifications

Start/Stop Cycles 50,000 (min)
Component Design Life 5 years (min)
Data Errors (non-recoverable) <1 per 100¹³ bits read
Packaging & Setup
   The DiamondMax Plus 6800 ships along with Maxtor's excellent Max-Blast hard drive setup utility which can help you to properly partition and format the drive for use.  Some older Ultra DMA 33 motherboards that use the Award BIOS have exhibited compatibility issues with Ultra DMA 66 drives. The symptom manifests itself as a system hang at boot. On some motherboards that use older versions of the Award BIOS, the system does not properly check the UDMA setting returned by the drive. This results in the motherboard attempting to set itself up in Ultra DMA mode 4 - a mode that it does not support. These 
issues arise because of a bug in the system's BIOS, NOT a problem with the Maxtor hard drive. Award is aware of this problem and is working on a fix.
To eliminate this problem, Maxtor has developed the UDMAUPDT.EXE utility (which can be downloaded here...). This program is designed to change (update) the UDMA Mode that the drive supports.
 

Apart from this issue there is nothing that is different from setting up any other hard drive, but since most early super7 mainboards use the Award BIOS this is something you need to be aware of.  

Performance
  We tested the DiamondMax Plus 6800 13.6 model #91366U4 using the Sisoft Sandra™ 99 Drives Benchmark and TCD Labs HD Tach 2.06 Lite application on the following system -

Test Configuration for Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 6800

Mainboard Tyan S1598 Trinity ATX
Chipset VIA MVP3 
Processor AMD K6-III 450MHz
Memory 2x64MB PC133
Generic CAS 3
Hard Drive Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 6800
13.6G UDMA66 7200 RPM
Graphics Adapter Matrox G400 SE AGP X2
Operating System Windows 98 SE

and obtained these results -

Please be aware that the Tyan S1598 DOES support UDMA66

Drive Benchmark Results

This Drive (C:) Drive Index: 11650
UDMA 8.4GB Drive Index: 7600
UDMA 6.4GB Drive Index: 6500
EIDE 4GB Drive Index: 3500
EIDE 2GB Drive Index: 1000
Disk Cache
Test Uses Cache Yes
Test File Size 192MB
Current Disk Cache 91MB
Maximum Disk Cache 119MB
Minimum Disk Cache 5MB
Typical Role Network Server
Benchmark Breakdown
Buffered Read 238 MB/s
Sequential Read 12 MB/s
Random Read 7 MB/s
Buffered Write 198 MB/s
Sequential Write 11 MB/s
Random Write 18 MB/s
Average Access Time 4 ms (estimated)

 

Conclusion
You can see the dramatic results of the DualWave processor and large cache buffer in the high data throughput rates and even though the 13.1ms Access time is significantly over the <9.0ms promised by Maxtor, the drive still performs extremely well - even on super7 system boards.  With DiamondMax Plus 6800 13.6G drives selling on the web for a reasonable $130 - $145.00, the drive is an excellent value for your hard earned cash so, if you're thinking about an upgrade hard drive don't be afraid to check around and then buy this one...

You can find out more about Maxtor hard drives including retail locations by visiting the company's web site at http://www.maxtor.com 

 

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