Maxtor Diamond PLUS 40 Review

Maxtor Diamond PLUS 40 Drive

I recently accuired a Maxtor DiamondMax PLUS-40 30 GB hard drive. These 7,200 RPM drives include Maxtor's unique DualWave twin processor technology for a 10x boost in host command processing speed. Coupled with 2 MB of high speed 100 MHz SDRAM for the cache buffer and an UltraDMA 66 interface, giving DualWave-equipped hard drives superior benchmark performance and maximum throughput.

The insatiable need for performance in high-end computing systems and workstations requires new technologies and architectures in order to meet the demand. Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus-40 (30 GB) hard drive incorporates a host of features to provide an increase in overall system performance and responsiveness. Dual processors, improved buffer management and ECC, and the ability to have larger, faster buffers ensure that on the desktop, Maxtor disk drives with the DualWave controller technology will set new expectations for performance and reliability at a fraction of the cost of high-end drives. To sum it up "High-Performance, Low-Cost."


  • 7200 RPM rotational speed
  • 2 MB cache buffer (SDRAM)
  • DualWave controller
  • ShockBlock mechanics
  • UltraDMA 66
  • Track to Track 1 ms seek time | Average < 9.0 ms | Maximum < 20 ms
  • Integrated Controller ATA-5/UDMA 66

ShockBlock = childproofing electrical outlets?

ShockBlock now offers even more shock resistance than did previous products. Testing has demonstrated that the DiamondMax can endure handling-generated shock levels up to 1,000G without drive failure. The result of a significant investment, both in the study of a disk drive's operating environment and in cutting-edge design techniques, this unprecede- nted level of protection helps ensure that your data is safe from damage potentially caused by improper handling.

DualWave isn't just Vanilla Ice's hairstyle!

To address the growing need for performance from desktop systems, Maxtor has designed a proprietary electronics architecture that employs concepts used in server-class disk drives and high-performance computing systems. The Maxtor DualWave controller is a dual processor architecture that offers features and functionality typically not found in desktop disk drives.

Typical desktop disk drives have used one microprocessor to handle seeking, error correction, host command processing, caching, reading, writing and data flow. Each of these tasks require a significant amount of processing power, which may decrease performance. In the server and workstation world of high-end SCSI disk drives, they addressed this performance issue by adding a second processor. This solution is cost prohibitive in the desktop disk drive world. To address this problem on the desktop Maxtor has developed the DualWave controller.

So what does all this technology get you? Early tests with the Maxtor DualWave have indicated a dramatic improvement in effective 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.

My experience

Support under Linux is fairly limited when it comes to UDMA drives, currently (JUNE / 01 / 00) there is support for UDMA66 when using a patched (2.2) kernel or a development kernel. This is a temporary limitation on the drives maximum performance, however, we hope it will be short lived. Sure the 33.4 MB/sec vs. 66.7 MB/sec data transfer rates isn't optimal, but good things come to those who wait. Or at least that what I tell myself when I get temperamental over the issue.

You have two options here, use the UDMA33 or UDMA66 controller. By putting the drive on your UDMA66 controller, you will get sustained transfer rates (as reported by hdparm -t) of about 7 MB/sec faster. Typical UDMA33 sustained rates are 17-18 MB/sec, whereas UDMA66 gives 24-25 MB/sec. I ended up using the UDMA33, on an Abit BP6 motherboard. (Be sure to get the newest BIOS for your motherboard)

UltraDMA vs. SCSI side note

Many top PC manufacturers are expanding the use of 7200 RPM drives across all platforms and market segments. The performance achieved by 7200 RPM IDE drives also have made these drives a viable alternative to SCSI in traditional SCSI applications such as server and entry-level RAID. Maxtor is a leader in caching technology, employing sophisticated algorithms similar to those found in high-end SCSI drives.

Maxtor's drives feature a 2 MB cache buffer incorp- orating a high-speed 100 MHz SDRAM memory, the same sort of memory found on today's high performance systems. If high-end remedies exceed your budget, or you're just looking for more "bang for your buck", this Matxor Diamond PLUS 40 30 GB (7200 RPM) drive may be the solution. I can't take credit for all the information provided in this review, The Maxtor Corporation was a great help when it came to technical insight. I did more of a technical approach because it's rather challenging to review a hard drive under our current rating system, even with the alternative categories.


The Good - Pros
  • Good price point
  • Great performance

The Bad - Cons
  • No stable support for UDMA 66 driver for this drive under Linux at time of review

The Ugly - Issues
  • N/A

The Verdict - Opinion

Great low cost alternative to SCSI

Linux Compatibility:
Cost & Value: