3 Replies Latest reply on Oct 12, 2010 12:10 PM by Indio22

    Importance of hard drive cache size?

    Indio22 Level 1

      I am building an x58/i7 930 budget based (target $1100.00) PC for multi-use including amateur editing with CS5 PhotoShop, Illustrator, After Effects (along with .Net design and coding using MS Visual Studio).


      I have found some good deals on Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB and 1TB model hard drives at local MicroCenter.  These drives spin at 7,200RPM and have 16MB of cache.  I was thinking of using the 500GB model for the operating system and program files, and then maybe two 1TB models for the working drives (scratch disk, paging etc).  No raid at this time.


      But I am unclear about the relative importance of the hard drive cache.  The SpinPoint drives mentioned have 16MB of cache.  But some other drives have 32MB or higher cache.  How important is the hard drive cache in terms of performance?  Is the performance gain of a larger cache worth spending extra?  Thanks for any advice on this subject of hard drive cache.

        • 1. Re: Importance of hard drive cache size?
          wb_martin Level 1

          Go here....



          they also have an exhaustive section describing RAID.  Enjoy!


          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Importance of hard drive cache size?
            ECBowen Most Valuable Participant

            In simplified terms, cache on HDD's is used to overcome limitations of the mechanics native to HDD technology. The HDD is the slowest main device in the process that the system uses for almost everything like the  CPU, RAM,  and Video Card. Without the cache the system would have to wait more often than not for the drive to spin to a location to either read or write data before it could handle the next request. That spinning to the location is called latency or random access time. Cache allows a list of commands to be stored in a place the drive can pull from. This allows the cpu, ram, and video card to continue working rather than have to stop and wait on the HDD. Now because the read and write locations are often all over the place on the drive at anyone time, the drive will fluctuate in performance which can also be modified by the cache. This allows the Drive controllers to optimize performance based on load since it can predict what the drive can handle based on the current list of read write commands in the cache.

            What this means to you. Often more cache can make up for drives with less efficient controllers or less cache can reduce cost when coupled with efficient controllers on the drives. The Spin Points seem to show the later based on benchmarks shown often online. It's a balance more than anything and each drive manufacturer has their own philosophies on which is the better solution. WD seems to trend toward the greater cache to compensate for less efficient controllers. Overall the easiest way to look at it is drives are like miniature computers and cache is comparable to system ram. If you have intensive operations such as raid, then the cache will help you more than the controller more often than not. If you have standard operations that process quickly then the more efficient drive controller will benefit you more.




            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Importance of hard drive cache size?
              Indio22 Level 1

              Thanks, I appreciate the information.  I will compare the differences in cost for various disk cache sizes, and then make a decision based on my needs in terms of the types of operations performed.