eSATA, an external version of the technology that’s used to connect hard drives inside the PC chassis. Unlike USB and FireWire, eSATA (external Serial ATA) lets external drives communicate at the same speed as internal drives. Great for storing photos, video and music.
eSATA: Faster External Drives to Arrive
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2006-12-21 6:20 pmcerbie
…but they can break ~30MB/s of USB/Firewire, some now going over 70MB/s (the data isn’t too big). Some USB chip combos (the host and bridge matter) can break 35MB/s…and use a fair bit of CPU power to do it.
eSATA should have CPU saving and compatibility benefits (or at least lack of occasional data corruption for no apparent reason) over common USB chipsets; with the caveat that you need the port (so not compatibility in terms of randomly choosing a PC< but randomly choosing a drive to use). It also offers a nice alternative to non-USB techs like Firewire and ATAoE for short-distance use (remember, FW has royalties involved–it’s kept Firewire from massive adoption similar to USB).
Given the cost and convenience of external drives (especially if you want data or burning features accessible to multiple PCs), this may be a nice step.
Some folks are already using external SATA drives, as well, and having a more rugged physical interface would not hurt if you’ve already been sold on the use of SATA.
USB won’t die any time soon, but handling external hard drives is not something it’s terribly good at, compared to the bandwidth needs of mice, wireless NICs, etc..
The latest linux kernel has verious improvements for eSATA. Using eSATA disks with Linux should be no problem.
I’m considering to only use internal disks for OS and applications, and to put ALL my data on external disks. It’s as fast as internal disks, but much easier to take with to another location, or to hotswap, or what else I would like to do with it. Also, it lowers the power consumption of the main power unit. Only the increase in cables on my desk might be a problem, but eSATA cables are slick and thin.
MrEcho is probably right about newer SATA versions being faster, and eSATA will probably not adapt the newest versions very soon. So, for demanding applications like video editing, an internal disk might still be useful.
Edited 2006-12-21 12:30
So this means another new port for new computers then?
I thought the whole idea of USB was to reduce the amount of ports, how about putting effort into making USB faster, rather that special ports for storage devices?
I predict that eSATA will become about as popular as external SCSI drives were (i.e. some success, but not ubiquitous by any stretch).
2006-12-21 3:44 pmlopisaur
The difference is you (usually, unless you had a very expensive motherboard) had to go get a SCSI adapter back then… Now you’re getting SATA on each and every new motherboard that’s being sold, and many provide at least pins for attaching a eSATA port. And the price difference between IDE/SATA is neglible, while the difference between SCSI and IDE was huge.
2006-12-21 3:49 pmtransputer_guy
“thought the whole idea of USB was to reduce the amount of ports, how about putting effort into making USB faster, rather that special ports for storage devices? ”
I rather doubt USB has any more slack for hacking it up again. It was after all only designed for 12 and 1 MBps and when FireWire started to look good at near 400MBps, Intel marketing people quickly hacked USB2.0 upwards to have a faster signal rate than FireWire by misleading use of peak bitrates, it is ofcourse much slower in real use.
As for Sata, Sata2 and eSata, sort of the same thing but at least this time the interface and cabling was designed from the start for very high bit rates. eSata was also not on the agenda either at the beginning, Sata was originally meant to be internal only.
Which ever interface is used, those only help to move bit traffic in out of the drives tiny cache, the actual sustained avg bit rates from drives is much slower when accessing mostly tiny files as most access are. Ironically media files may be huge in size but then they play out over an hour or so, so the required stream rates are actually very modest.
Personally I can’t wait till the damn harddrive can be got rid of, use them only for media files that are infrequently loaded. I get those fear of god moments all too often when the drive starts power stuttering. What I am really looking forward to is high perf Flash store with I/O rates closer to slow DRAM bus speeds, 100MBytes/sec would be grand, could even use eSata at continuous top speed.
2006-12-21 7:24 pmMorin
> What I am really looking forward to is high perf Flash
> store with I/O rates closer to slow DRAM bus speeds,
> 100MBytes/sec would be grand, could even use eSata at
> continuous top speed.
That, and smaller programs. I’m actually looking forward to the point when the OS and programs fit into flash RAM, either being executed directly from there or loaded quickly into DRAM.
Combine that with a different attitude towards making bug-free programs, such that you don’t have to update so often (still very slow with Flash RAM)…
time to stop dreaming
2006-12-22 1:40 amRugmonster
I may be off on this, but I’ve sat through many a Cisco IOS boots. Cisco devices hold their OS in flash and I have to say, it’s no faster than a minimal Linux boot. My desktop running Ubuntu almost boots as fast as most of my routers and switches at work. Maybe they just use slow flash memory.
2006-12-21 9:30 pmDoc Pain
“I rather doubt USB has any more slack for hacking it up again. It was after all only designed for 12 and 1 MBps and when FireWire started to look good at near 400MBps, Intel marketing people quickly hacked USB2.0 upwards to have a faster signal rate than FireWire by misleading use of peak bitrates, it is ofcourse much slower in real use. “
First, USB is using polling (instead of IRQ notification), so it has a certain load rate that classical ATA (and I assume eSATA) don’t have. USB primarily is used for input devices (keyboards, mice) and devices with small data transfer amounts (cameras). For these purposes, it’s quite okay. Transfering huge amounts of data via USB is just annoying.
eSATA would be a great system to be adopted by digital media devices such as digital video cameras or even MP3 players (with large disks). We’ll see which “higher level devices” (others than “pure” harddisks) will use eSATA.
I use a eSATA PC Express Card with optional software RAID driver support that let me hook up two eSATA cables to my notebook. The two cables go to a eSATA cabinet with up to 4 disks. I currently have two 500 GB disks in there, and do not currently use the RAID feature. The speed is awesome. I only use SATA2 (3 Gbps) components though.
I do have some USB2 external disks too, but that is perhaps the dumbest investment I’ve ever made. I’ll never buy another USB drive, that is for sure.
I hope all major hardware vendors add support for eSATA ports ASAP.
2006-12-22 1:36 amRugmonster
Just got my new 3.0Gb/s SATA drive and external enclosure in today. The enclosure was $30 on Newegg and has USB 2.0 and eSATA ports. Since I’m not equipped here at the house for eSATA, I’ll use USB for now. Later on, if I want to use eSATA, I can.
What I’m getting at is if your external drives are SATA (inside the enclosure), you can pick up new drive enclosures with support eSATA and put the drives in them.
eSata, SAS, DisplayPort, BlueRay, PCI Express x1 to replace all standard pci slots. the computer world is on the verge of another large turning point. people can either accept these new standards or stay witht he adiquite, though no where near as good, alternatives. personaly I welcome this change.
I currently use a 120G USB 2.5″ drive for all data files, so I can move all my development work between home, customer’s sites, and the office (and never forget anything!). However one main convenience is no power adapter needed. eSATA would be very appealing for the speed boost, but will the cable also supply power like USB?
Edited 2006-12-21 18:22
2006-12-21 9:24 pmronaldst
eSATA would be very appealing for the speed boost, but will the cable also supply power like USB?
No. There is a included power cord for the external HD.
They’d come along with a bit sturdier a CONNECTOR for the bloody things. Quarter of a mm thick thermoset resin with internal spring pins that make edge-ribbon look robust is NOT a durable construction method, especially for anything that’s going to be plugged in or unplugged more than once… Hell, EVEN ONCE.
SATA in all it’s forms is very impressive, but it’s connectors are a total FAILURE of engineering… hell, they make the rinky USB connectors look well made.
The BOX of broken SATA cables in the corner of my shop is a testament to that… it’s almost enough to make one want parallel ATA back, at least those didn’t break if you so much as sneezed in the same room.
Edited 2006-12-21 21:43
2006-12-21 10:37 pmZedicus
as a PC repair technician for a living ive never had any where near that much trouble with even first generation SATA connectors. while on the flip side i have a box of screwed up EIDE cables and have seen peeple damage mainboards and hard drives from trying to force an ide cable on or off.
I don’t see how this is news. I purchased a Dell Precision M65 7 months ago and it came with and eSATA port. Ironically at the time I couldn’t find and eSATA enclosure to buy so I was stuck with USB. About two months later I stated to see them available.
2006-12-22 1:31 amRugmonster
I was just wondering the same thing. I bought two LaCie S2S Biggest 2.5TB external RAIDs about four months ago. I’ve been seeing controllers from 3ware for a while with eSATA ports. When I first started seeing eSATA, I thought, “Oh cool. They picked up something SCSI has had for YEARS.”
And by the way, SCSI is still faster and supports more types of devices. Yes, I bought the 5TB worth of storage, but those were for cheap and fast backups and recovery for recent stuff in case the tapes happen to fail.
the biggest problem still remains. Let’s say you have four external drives, that means you have 4 external power sources = clutter. even 2,5″ drives need an additional power source with esata.
There are external enclosures that hold more than one disk which would be driven by one power supply. I think LaCie sell them though I could be wrong and it might be another brand.
I bought two eSATA enclosures when I built my computer, thinking they would be fast and easy to set up. I was going to use one as an audio recording drive, and the other for general storage. The mobo has four SATA connectors; the enclosures come with all the cables and connectors; what could be so hard?
I have not been able to get Xubuntu, Zenwalk, or Debian to work with eSATA. I managed to use USB to format one of the drives, but now I can’t write to the drive anymore, even with USB. If I try to boot with it plugged in to the eSATA port, the boot fails. If I try to hot plug, the drive is not recognized. I have searched the Web high and low, and posted on various forums for months, looking for a solution. I would not recommend trying these unless you are a real expert. Otherwise you may be stuck with some rather expensive paperweights.
Edited 2006-12-29 18:55
SATA is very nice and fast, but the drives are no where near the max of sata2 speeds.
I guess eSATA would be good for a external RAID setup.
Thats if such a setup even is made.
SATA 3.0 Gb/s uses 8B/10B encoding, resulting in an actual data transfer rate of 2.4 Gb/s, or 300 MB/s.
Edited 2006-12-21 12:19