From Stargate Wiki
- "Okay, so at its base level, a hyperdrive allows you to travel great distances by entering and exiting subspace."
- — Rodney McKay
A Hyperdrive is a faster-than-light technology which allows spaceships to traverse vast distances in short amounts of time via access to subspace.
Hyperdrives allow for access to subspace via an interdimensional window. The ship will enter this window and traverse the distances between two points in space. The hyperdrives operate by building up an enormous amount of energy in generators which are channeled into creating a hyperspace window. If a hyperdrive is overtaxed or overused the drive can burn out and be incapable of functioning within normal capabilities. Hyperdrives usually require advanced control crystals to function. Although based on the same basic technology, different races have differing variants of the hyperdrive systems each operating on a slightly different subspace frequencies. (ATL: "The Siege, Part 2", "The Siege, Part 3", "First Contact", SG1: "Prometheus", "New Order, Part 1", "Enemies")
The functionality of the technology depends on the type of power and the amount of power supplied to the device, with more power the hyperdrive will increase in speed and effectiveness, however most hyperdrives will be unable to cope with extended usage resulting in the engine burning out. Some hyperdrives have an energy buffer which controls the flow of energy into the hyperdrive. (SG1: "New Order, Part 1", "Memento")
Some hyperdrives create excessive amounts of heat which can cause the generators, buffers and systems to overheat and become damaged, these engines usually have some sort of coolant or ventilation shafts to help reduce temperatures and prvent catastrophic overloads. Hyperdrives are susceptible to intense gravity waves such as those from a collapsing star. The gravity waves affect subspace and can interfere with energy buffers connected to hyperdrives. If the hyperdrive generators energy is not channeled into creating a hyperspace window, the drive will explode. If the Attero device is set to certain frequencies, hyperdrives will be unstable when entering the hyperspace windows causing the ship to be destroyed. Hyperdrives are also susceptible to overuse and with age the components can break down requiring more frequent maintenance and possible replacement. (SG1: "Revelations", "Grace", "Memento", "Prometheus", ATL: "First Contact")
Ancient hyperdrives were the first of their kind to be developed and capable of interstellar traverses. Their intergalactic hyperdrives are capable of crossing voids between galaxies, however their interstellar hyperdrives are much slower and are capable of being modified to increase their effectiveness and speed. Their hyperdrive systems require significantly more power than other variants. (ATL: "Aurora", "The Return, Part 1", "Enemy at the Gate")
The Asgard hyperdrives are among the fastest hyperdrives ever built. They are capable of crossing galaxies and expanses of space in a very few hours. While in hyperspace other functions of the ship are unable to be used such as weapons and shields, most likely due to the amount of power required to operate the hyperdrive. The hyperdrives are also able to expand their hyperspace windows and tow other ships through hyperspace, but at a slower rate. (SG1: "Prometheus", "Unnatural Selection", "Small Victories")
The Goa'uld hyperdrives are capable of reaching thousands of times the speed of light. The hyperdrives are capable of reaching far greater speeds if significant power is supplied to the engines. Goa'uld hyperspace technology advanced relatively quickly going from barely able to reach twice the speed of light to thousands of times this limit. The transit between sublight and faster-than-light speeds resulted in significant force being felt by the occupants until they upgraded their technology. (SG1: "Within the Serpent's Grasp", "Exodus", "Enemies")
The Nakai have intergalactic hyperdrive technology on their ships capable of reaching other galaxies. These hyperdrives do not appear to create a hyperspace window but rather accelerate the ship to faster-than-light speeds, however the ships may enter hyperspace during transit. (SGU: "Space", "Deliverance")
The Tau'ri developed hyperspace technology through examination of other hyperdrive systems such as Goa'uld technology. The immense power requirements led the Tau'ri to use Naquadria as a power source, however the unstable energy resulted in a flawed hyperdrive system that required a buffer to handle the energy fluctuations. The Tau'ri were given an Asgard hyperdrive which was installed on Prometheus and later developed similar hyperdrives for use in the 304's. The hyperdrive capabilities are greatly increased when a more powerful energy source is incorporated. Earth's hyperdrive technology is still under development. (SG1: "Redemption, Part 1", "Prometheus", "Memento", ATL: "The Siege, Part 1", SGU: "Sabotage")
The Travelers have interstellar hyperdrives on their ships however due to lack of resources and overuse their hyperdrive systems were repaired through jerry-rigging components together and require continuous maintenance. Their hyperdrives are relatively fast capable of keeping up with Wraith hyperdrive technology. (ATL: "Travelers", "The Lost Tribe")
The Ori hyperdrives were built using ascended knowledge and a capable of keeping up with Asgard hyperdrives. Their hyperdrives are capable of traveling at differing speeds however a journey from the Ori galaxy would take a large and indeterminable amount of time to reach the Milky Way. (SG1: "Flesh and Blood", "Counterstrike", "Unending")
The Vanir once possessed intergalactic hyperdrives capable of reaching other galaxies however their ships, and their hyperdrive technology, was lost when they were destroyed by the Wraith following the defeat of the Lanteans. The Vanir managed to build more hyperdrives but they were much less advanced than their previous models, due to a lack of resources and knowledge. Their hyperdrives are also capable of safely operating within the atmosphere of planets. (ATL: "First Contact", "The Lost Tribe")
The Wraith hyperdrives are organic in nature and incapable of the extended usage other non-organic technology can withstand and they are powered by hyperdrive generators. Their hyperdrives are also less advanced than others, being slower and require pauses, which is actually an effect of the organic nature of the technology to recover from hyperspace radiation. The hyperdrives are based on the same principle as all other hyperspace technology but operate on a different frequency. An increase in power, such as from a Zero Point Module, can increase the range and effectiveness of the hyperdrive. (ATL: "No Man's Land", "The Siege, Part 3", "First Contact", "Enemy at the Gate")