Recently, my old harddisk produced some errors. As I care for my data, I immediately replaced it and decided to invest in an SSD.
My laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad T61) is already some years old, so I'm quite aware that I won't get the best possible performance out of it. But I found something really interesting. The BIOS seems to limit the SATA II speed and there's an unofficial BIOS mod to remove that limitation. It's also available for a couple of other Thinkpad models (beside T61 also for R61, X61, X300 and variants of them).
The BIOS mod also does a number of other things, for example the official BIOS has a whitelist of allowed wireless chips. That gets removed.
The full feature list from the readme file:
- Disabled whitelist check.
- Enabled SATA II full speed.
- Added SLIC 2.1 table.
- Removed "Thermal sensing error" boot message (Penryn CPUs).
- Added dual-IDA support.
Obivous Warning: You're doing this at your own risk. If any unofficial BIOS destroys your laptop or your data, that's bad luck. The only thing I can tell is that I didn't experience any problems and that so far, a lot of people seem to use these BIOS mods without problems.
Now I did some before-after-benchmarking. I used hdparm -tT /dev/sda and a simple dd if=/dev/zero of=/tmp/out.img bs=8k count=256k. I started the benchmark after a fresh boot without anything else running to avoid disturbances. I ran the tests a couple of times and will only give you the last result of each tests, but they didn't differ much. The results:
hdparm cached read
hdparm buffered read
Quite impressive, isn't it? I just doubled the speed of my disk for free. I'm aware that benchmarking is a tricky business and the impact this has on my overall system performance is probably difficult to put in numbers, but the results are significant enough that I think it was worth it.
thanks for this extremly interesting post! I've been watching it for some time now, as I knew some family members do have T6x-models.
Unfortunately, those are T60 with SATA-I-Hardware. While searching the thread you mentioned a forum member came up with the same question, which clears things up:
> T60's only have a SATA I capable hardware,
> whereas T61's have a SATA II capable hardware,
> which has been reduced to SATA I speeds via firmware.
I find it interesting Lenovo didn't just limit the SATA-II-Speed to any random value, but to SATA-I speed. I just wonder: Why would they want to do this? Any clues?
I read that they limited it because of compatibility issues with the ultrabay slim. The ultrabay is PATA adapted to SATA, so limiting the SATA II to SATA I speeds is just to keep breakage from happening. I'm not sure how the above mod affects that stability, but so far people have mostly been saying it works well. If you use the ultrabay with an HDD or SSD then you may want to be careful about modding the bios.