The Mobile Storage Giant: A FireWire Hard Drive From Western Digital

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Mobile Data Storage: Comparison of Three External Storage Systems Between 120 GB and 160 GB
Краткое содержание статьи: External hard drives are quite popular because large amounts of data, such as MP3 and photo files, for instance, can be carried around with you without any problem. With capacities of 120 to 160 GB, there the question of whether it's better to choose an external drive as opposed to a second internal drive. Products from Maxtor and Western Digital have a good go at it, but because of the differences between USB 2.0 and FireWire, you should carefully consider how you are planning to use the external drive.

Mobile Data Storage: Comparison of Three External Storage Systems Between 120 GB and 160 GB

Редакция THG,  27 августа 2002
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Test Configuration

Test System
Processor Intel Pentium 2.4 GHz 256 KB L2 Cache (Willamette)
Motherboard Intel 845EBT,845E Chipset
RAM 256 MB DDR/PC2100, CL2Micron/Crucial
Controller i845E UltraDMA/100-Controller (ICH4)On-Board USB 2.0On-Board FireWire
Graphics Card ATI Radeon SDRAM, 32 MB
Network 3COM 905TX PCI 100 MBit
OS Windows XP Pro 5.10.2600
Benchmarks and Measurements
Office Applications ZD WinBench 99 - Business Disk Winmark 1.2
High-end Applications ZD WinBench 99 - Highend Disk Winmark 1.2
Performance Measurements ZD WinBench 99 - Disc Inspection TestHD Tach 2.61
Drivers and Settings
Graphics Driver 5.1.2001.0 (Windows XP Standard)
IDE Driver Intel Application Accelerator 2.2
DirectX Version 8.1
Resolution 1024x768, 16 Bit, 85 Hz Refresh

Benchmark Results

Data Transfer Performance

USB 2.0 vs. FireWire

USB 2.0 vs. FireWire

Here you can clearly see the gradual decrease in transfer rate, which is determined by the design of the hard drive. The reason for this is that the outer areas of the storage platters rotate with a higher absolute speed than the inner areas. Thus, the performance decreases as you move from the beginning to the end of the storage medium.

In practice, USB 2.0 offers up to 30 MB/s. Even modern drives, as they are used in external storage solutions, offer higher transfer rates only in the first half of the storage area. After that, the drive itself becomes the bottleneck!

USB 2.0 vs. FireWire

In the graphic with the Maxtor 3000XT with FireWire, we get a completely different picture. Although the hard drive used could theoretically perform much better than the 18 MB/s, the data transfer rate seemed to be limited. Here, the FireWire controller is at work, because one of its most important tasks is to ensure a minimum bandwidth - only then can data be transferred in real time (isochronous). The USB drive continues where the FireWire solution stopped, but don't be blinded by the higher performance levels of USB 2.0: even if up to 30 MB/s is possible, the USB protocol allows for interruptions to the data stream at all times. This is a killer for high quality video streams.
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