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Choosing Between SAS vs. SATA Hard Disk for Your Server RAID System

Intel does not recommend specific hard disk drive vendors or technology and feature implementations, however this guide will provide a brief technical explanation of the differences between using SAS or SATA Hard Drives to provide system integrators with the key information they need to determine their hard drive requirements.

To achieve a balanced setup in considering all the requirements with related costs, the checklist below may assist you in choosing between SATA and SAS Hard Drives for your system RAID.

Note Vendor implementations of these features vary between drive models. (Typical MTBF, operating temperature, and operating rotational vibration vary depending on the manufacturer). Generally the high end of the feature spectrum includes enterprise-class SAS hard drives, and the low end includes desktop-class SATA drives. Enterprise-class SATA drives fall somewhere in between.




Operational Availability

24 hours/day - 7days/week

8 hours/day - 5days/week




Cost Sensitivity

Moderately sensitive to cost

Sensitive to low cost


Latency and Seek

5.7 msec @ 15K rpm

13 msec @ 7200rpm (or smaller)

Command Queuing and Reordering



Rotational Vibration Tolerance

Up to 21 rads/sec/sec

Up to 5 to 12 rads/sec/sec

Typical I/Os per sec/drive



Duplex Operation




Bad Sector Recovery

Typical time out 7-15 sec only

Time outs up to 30 sec

Misalignment detection

Dedicated Servo and data path processors

Single combined servo/data path processor or none

Vibration Sensors

RV Compensation Feedback Mechanism

No RV Compensation

Variable Sector Size

Utilizes a 528 byte sector and allow the I/O controller

Do not utilize a variable sector size (locked at 512 bytes)


1.2M hours at 45 degrees C

700K hours at 25 degrees C

Internal Data Integrity Checks

End to End

Limited, none in memory buffer

Maximum Operating Temperature

~60 degrees C

~40 degrees C


~5 years

~ to 3 years


Spindle Motor

Higher RPM
Tighter run-out
Spindle anchor at both ends

Moderate to lower RPM
Lower specification for run-out
Spindle anchored at one end


Full media cert

Lower media specification and density

Head Stack Assembly

Structural rigidity
Lower inertial design

Lighter Weight Design
Higher inertial design

Actuator Mechanics

Larger magnets
Air turbulence controls
RV sensors and closed loop RV

Smaller magnets
No air turbulence compensation
No RV sensors or suppression - limited to
servo wedge track alignment


Dual processors
(dedicated servo and data path processors)
Performance optimization
Advanced Error Handling
Advanced firmware algorithms

Single processor

No performance optimization
Standard Error Handling
Standard Firmware algorithms


FW Code



Variable Sector Sizes






We strongly encourage you to contact the hard drive vendor of your choice to discuss the hard drive and features best suited for your deployment application.

The Tested Hardware and Operating System List (THOL) has more information. Click on your product name below This applies to: to see the documentation and home page for your product.

Enterprise-class versus Desktop-class Hard Drives (PDF) icon
Size: 84.77 KB
Date: April 2008

Note: PDF Files require Adobe Acrobat* Reader*

Operating System:

OS Independent

This applies to:

Intel® RAID Controller SASMF8I
Intel® RAID Controller SASUC8I
Intel® RAID Controller SASWT4I
Intel® Server Board S1200BT
Intel® Server Board S1200KP
Intel® Server Board S2600JF
Intel® Server Board S2600WP
Intel® Server Board S3200SH
Intel® Server Board S3420GP
Intel® Server Board S5000PAL
Intel® Server Board S5000PSL
Intel® Server Board S5000VCL
Intel® Server Board S5000VSA
Intel® Server Board S5000XSL
Intel® Server Board S5400SF
Intel® Server Board S5500BC
Intel® Server Board S5500HCV
Intel® Server Board S5500WB
Intel® Server Board S5520HC
Intel® Server Board S5520UR
Intel® Server Board X38ML
Intel® Server System H2000JF Family
Intel® Server System H2000WP Family
Intel® Server System P4304BT
Intel® Server System R1304BT
Intel® Server System S7000FC4UR
Intel® Server System SC5400RA
Intel® Server System SC5650HCBRP
Intel® Workstation Board S5000XVN
Intel® Workstation Board S5520SC
Intel® Workstation System SC5650SCWS

Solution ID: CS-031831
Last Modified: 27-Oct-2014
Date Created: 08-Sep-2010
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