Serial ATA (SATA) Native Command Queuing (NCQ) FAQs

Frequently asked questions for Serial-Attached SCSI drives, including information on performance, specifications, and model families.

Native Command Queuing is a process in which a hard drive reorders outstanding commands to reduce mechanical overhead and improve I/O latencies.

What are the Native Command Queuing requirements?

In order to take full advantage of Native Command Queuing, you must have the following:

  • NCQ supported hard drive
  • Motherboards or PCI controllers with NCQ support
    Verify NCQ support through your motherboard and host adapter manufacturer
  • Multi-threading software

What is multi-threading software?

Multi-threading is the ability of a program or an operating system process to manage its use by more than one user at a time and manage multiple requests by the same user without having to have multiple copies of the program running in the computer.

What are the advantages of using NCQ?

Some of the advantages of using NCQ supported hard drives are:

  • Improved endurance of the hard drive due to less mechanical wear
  • Higher performance when utilizing multiple command workloads

Will I notice a big performance increase when using a NCQ supported hard drive?

Each hard drive model will have its own product specification which you should use to determine performance. You will not see a big performance increase when using applications that do not utilize multi-threading technology. Performance increase is more noticeable when utilizing transactional workloads.

How do I enable NCQ?

Native Command Queuing is enabled at the firmware level of the hard drive and cannot be altered by the end user, which means you have support as long as all the other requirements are met. If all requirements are not met, NCQ will not be utilized.

Can I use my NCQ supported hard drive with a non NCQ supported controller or motherboard?

Yes. The NCQ supported hard drives will work just fine with non-NCQ supported controllers or motherboards. However you will not be able to take advantage of the NCQ features.

What Seagate model numbers support NCQ?

Since late 2004, most new SATA drive families have supported NCQ.  The following Seagate model numbers drive families support NCQ:

  • Barracuda 7200.8, 7200.9, 7200.10, 7200.11 (SATA), 7200.12 and later
  • Barracuda NL35, NL35.2, ES, ES+, ES.2 (SATA) and later
  • Momentus 5400.2, 5400.3 (SATA) and later
  • Momentus 7200.1, 7200.2 (SATA) and later
  • Momentus 5400 PSD and later
  • Momentus 5400 FDE.2 and later