Multi-Sector Transfers from The Tech ARP BIOS Guide

Multi-Sector Transfers

Common Options : Disabled, 2 Sectors, 4 Sectors, 8 Sectors, 16 Sectors, 32 Sectors, Maximum

 

Quick Review of Multi-Sector Transfers

The Multi-Sector Transfers BIOS feature speeds up hard disk drive access by transferring multiple sectors of data per interrupt instead of using the usual single-sector transfer mode. This mode of transferring data is known as block transfers.

Multi-Sector Transfers from The Tech ARP BIOS Guide

There are a few available options, from Disabled and a few different multiple sectors option to Maximum.

The Disabled option forces your IDE controller to transfer only a single sector (512 bytes) per interrupt. Needless to say, this will significantly degrade performance.

The selection of 2 Sectors to 32 Sectors allows you to manually select the number of sectors that the IDE controller is allowed to transfer per interrupt.

The Maximum option allows your IDE controller to transfer as many sectors per interrupt as the hard disk is able to support.

Since all current hard disk drives support block transfers, there is usually no reason why IDE HDD Block Mode should be disabled.

Therefore, you should disable IDE HDD Block Mode only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0). Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you select the Maximum option for significantly better hard disk performance!

The manual selection of 2 to 32 sectors is useful if you notice data corruption with the Maximum option. It allows you to scale back the multi-sector transfer feature to correct the problem without losing too much performance.

 

Details of Multi-Sector Transfers

The Multi-Sector Transfers BIOS feature speeds up hard disk drive access by transferring multiple sectors of data per interrupt instead of using the usual single-sector transfer mode. This mode of transferring data is known as block transfers.

There are a few available options, from Disabled and a few different multiple sectors option to Maximum.

The Disabled option forces your IDE controller to transfer only a single sector (512 bytes) per interrupt. Needless to say, this will significantly degrade performance.

The selection of 2 Sectors to 32 Sectors allows you to manually select the number of sectors that the IDE controller is allowed to transfer per interrupt.

The Maximum option allows your IDE controller to transfer as many sectors per interrupt as the hard disk is able to support.

Since all current hard disk drives support block transfers, there is usually no reason why IDE HDD Block Mode should be disabled.

However, if you are running on Windows NT 4.0, you might need to disable this BIOS feature because Windows NT 4.0 has a problem with block transfers. According to Chris Bope, Windows NT does not support IDE HDD Block Mode and enabling this feature can cause data to be corrupted.

Ryu Connor confirmed this by sending me a link to a Microsoft article (Enhanced IDE operation under Windows NT 4.0). According to this article, IDE HDD Block Mode and 32-bit Disk Access have been found to cause data corruption in some cases. Therefore, Microsoft recommends that Windows NT 4.0 users disable IDE HDD Block Mode.

Lord Mike asked ‘someone in the know‘ about this matter and he was told that the data corruption issue was taken very seriously at Microsoft and that it had been corrected through the Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 2. Although he could not get an official statement from Microsoft, it is probably safe enough to enable IDE HDD Block Mode on a Windows NT 4.0 system, just as long as it has been upgraded with Service Pack 2.

Therefore, you should disable IDE HDD Block Mode only if you actually face the possibility of data corruption (with an unpatched version of Windows NT 4.0). Otherwise, it is highly recommended that you select the Maximum option for significantly better hard disk performance!

The manual selection of 2 to 32 sectors is useful if you notice data corruption with the Maximum option. It allows you to scale back the multi-sector transfer feature to correct the problem without losing too much performance.

 

Recommended Reading

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