Radified Guide to SCSI - Boot from a SCSI Hard Drive

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Miscellaneous Info

Waxing more theoretical, SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface, and is pronounced 'scuzzy'. It's a input/output (I/O) system that offers true multitasking/multi-threaded capabilities. Unlike the IDE interface, which needs complete control of a bus/channel in order to do anything, and can only execute one function (e.g. read/write) at a time, a SCSI subsystem can perform many different functions concurrently. 

For example, SCSI can read from one drive, while writing to another. IDE, on the other hand, must wait until each function is complete, before beginning the next. This ability to perform multiple functions concurrently - without having to wait - is one of the main advantage SCSI holds over the IDE interface. 

SCSI can be divided into two camps:

  1. CD burners

  2. Hard disk drives (HDDs)

The advent of BURN-Proof (invented by Sanyo) has neutralized SCSI burning advantage. Burn-Proof turns off the laser in the case of buffer under-runs. The only reason to get a SCSI burner these days is to save your IDE ports of (cheap) IDE drives. Sadly, companies often come out with their fastest, newest drives/features in IDE versions now.

Might be worth noting here that, even if you go with a SCSI CD-ROM (I have), you should still keep an old, cheap, IDE/ATA CD-ROM around the house. I had probs getting Linux to load from my SCSI CD-ROM - even tho Linux claimed the devices were supported. And that's the reason I keep one IDE channel open (I only use 3 IDE/ATA hard drives).

So, if I ever need to bust out the IDE/ATA drive, dust it off, I can set it on a small footstool by the PC - don't even have to install it in the case. Just plug in the ATA cable & a power connection. Once Linux is loaded - unplug & stash it back in the drawer. 

If you want to be able to *boot* from your SCSI device(s) (burner or CDROM reader), you will need a SCSI card with a BIOS (basis input output system). No BIOS = no boot. BIOS'es are typically (re)flashable, which allows the SCSI adapter to be upgraded with new features and better performance. A BIOS, in effect, extends the useful life of an adapter. This typically makes a (card with a) BIOS, a smarter investment (than one without).

It has been my experience that people who diss SCSI the worst are those who have never actually used it. I've only heard of two people who tried a SCSI-based system and went back to IDE. One of them was somebody talking about 4-year old SCSI technology, compared to modern IDE drives.

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