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Upgrades Data Storage Hardware Technology

USB 3.0 the Real Deal, SATA 6GB Not Yet 168

MojoKid writes "HotHardware has posted a sneak peek at a new motherboard Asus has coming down the pipe with USB 3.0 and SATA 6G support. The Asus P7P55D-E Premium has a PLX PCI Express Gen 2 switch implementation that connects to NEC USB 3.0 and Marvell SATA 6G controller chips. With a USB 3.0 enabled external hard drive connected to a USB 2.0 port and then to the board's USB 3.0 port, there were some rather impressive gains to observe. When connected to a USB 3.0 port, the external hard drive was about 5 — 6x faster versus connecting over USB 2.0, with total throughput in excess of 130MB/sec. On the other hand, benchmarks with Seagate's new Barracuda XT SATA 6G drive show little performance difference but a burst rate that is off the charts. According to ATTO, there are slight overall performance benefits to be had connecting the drive to the SATA 6G controller, but the deltas were quite small; somewhere in the neighborhood of 5MB/s or so."
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USB 3.0 the Real Deal, SATA 6GB Not Yet

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  • moral? (Score:5, Informative)

    by macshit ( 157376 ) <> on Friday October 30, 2009 @05:38AM (#29921729) Homepage

    This all sounds like exactly what you'd expect.

    The old SATA standard was more than sufficient for the hard disk's max sustained transfer rate, so only burst performance (when everything is presumably coming from the disk's RAM cache) changed with the new SATA. So "SATA 6GB" is working fine, but this disk is just too slow to take advantage of its speed increase.

    With USB on the other hand, USB 2 is simply far too slow to handle even the drive's sustained transfer rate, whereas USB 3 is fast enough to handle it.

    So the moral seems to be: USB 2 sucks for disks, USB 3 is better and probably sufficient for a typical hard drive, and SATA's still probably better than either (it's not really possible to tell from this article, since the sustained transfer rates are limited by the drive, and they curiously omitted the burst rates for USB).

  • by Lord Lode ( 1290856 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @06:07AM (#29921815)
    What, USB 2 slow? Seems like you never tried to transfer 3GB of photo's to a PC that only has USB 1. Seriously, USB 2 is FAST. If you want slow, try USB 1.
  • Re:IEEE1394 (Score:5, Informative)

    by uglyduckling ( 103926 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @07:17AM (#29922091) Homepage
    You're spot on with the CPU load. The reason Firewire is still so popular, and the reason why Mac users were so up in arms when Apple dropped it from their alu MacBook is that for video and audio there's still no good alternative. I can hang 16 channels of digital audio I/O from the Firewire bus and do live digital mixing on a Mac and run digital effects etc.. There's no way I could do that with USB and expect it to be stable if it works at all. Jobs made a big thing about newer digital video cameras being USB2, but the point is it's offline in the sense that you're transferring data from one hard drive in the camera to a hard drive in the computer - if there's a problem with the USB2 bus the camera can throttle back the data transfer or repeat if necessary. If you're using a tape-based digital format (which is still the mainstream standard in the pro/semi-pro world) then you need Firewire because it will reliably import a full tape without dropping frames; effectively it's streaming rather than just copying, for which I wouldn't trust USB2.
  • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @07:28AM (#29922139)
    I don't know why the editors didn't include a link to it, but AnandTech has a much better review of the SATA 6G-equipped motherboard [] and its performance; one that actually gets around to doing real-world tests and not just synthetic tests. It turns out that the 6G Marvell controller is slower than the standard Intel ICH10 controller in virtually all cases. Until someone integrates SATA 6G in to a proper motherboard chipset, it's not just performance limited, it's performance degrading.
  • Re:IEEE1394 (Score:2, Informative)

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @07:54AM (#29922263) Journal

    I think if Apple had not been so greedy in the beginning, FireWire would be the standard today. And I'm also sure in the end Apple would have made much more money from it, too.

  • Re:IEEE1394 (Score:3, Informative)

    by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <> on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:51AM (#29922561) Homepage

    Do desktop and server Macs still have firewire?
    Yes and so do all three sizes of macbook pro (13, 15 and 17 inch), hell even the mac mini has it!

  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <> on Friday October 30, 2009 @08:54AM (#29922577) Homepage

    Well, it's 40% faster over the bus
    40% faster in this test, unfortunately hothardware didn't benchmark the bare drive but looking at thier SATA results (based on a different and probablly higher end drive) I suspect the drive was the bottleneck in this USB3 test.

    USB3 also tweaks up the power a little so there should now be enough to reliably run a laptop hard drive off bus power (with 2.0 it's hit and miss)

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @09:21AM (#29922819) Journal
    Yes. USB1 and USB2 are subsets of USB3. I own two FireWire 800 disks and a FireWire iSight camera, but I own more peripherals that I can run from a USB 3 controller than ones that can run from a FireWire controller. If you make a computer with FireWire 800, you still need to add a USB 2 controller for slower peripherals. If you make a computer with a USB 3 controller, you can just plug in USB 1 and 2 peripherals directly.

    Intel were very clever pitching USB as a replacement for things like PS/2 and RS-232 connectors. That meant that everyone had a USB port or two and collected USB 1 devices. When USB 2 came around, even though it wasn't quite as good as FireWire 400, it was almost as good and it was effectively free, because there was almost no price difference between a USB 1 and a USB 2 controller, and you needed a USB 1 controller for everyone's keyboard and mouse. Now USB 3 is here, the same is going to happen. USB 2 controllers will be replaced by USB 3 controllers, and everyone will have a set of USB 3 ports. FireWire doesn't just have to be better, it has to be better by enough of a margin to make it worth adding an extra controller, extra motherboard traces, and extra ports.

  • Re:PIO or DMA? (Score:2, Informative)

    by eddy ( 18759 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:51AM (#29923825) Homepage Journal

    All of them which aren't from Apple? My mainstream HP laptop has eSATA.

  • Re:Light Peak (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vigile ( 99919 ) * on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:53AM (#29923873)

    It's a good thought - in my USB 3.0 article I mention that specifically. Can USB 3.0 survive without the FULL push of Intel? I tend to believe that other controller vendors will push the technology hard enough to make up for it and that the speed differences will push customers to really WANT the technology: []

  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @10:59AM (#29923959) Homepage

    USB 3.0 does away with polling and introduces an interrupt-based transfer model, so CPU usage should no longer be an issue.

  • by TropicalCoder ( 898500 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:02AM (#29923999) Homepage Journal

    I ordered a new system based on an Intel CORE i5 750 2.66GHZ CPU running on the Asus Xtreme Design P7P55D-E Premium w/8 GB DDR3 1333 Mhz ram two days ago, and have been monitoring the net for signs of this mobo to actually hit the shelves. I will be running this with an unremarkable 64 GB Patriot SDD as the boot drive, until the new SATA 6 Gbps SSDs come out - which could take a awhile I imagine. I expect blazing speed from this platform, and can hardly wait for it. The only unknown is when will the mobo arrive. If it drags on and on, at least there is the option of an add on card that will convert one of the other ASUS X58 boards to USB 3 & SATA 6. I just hope I haven't made a mistake with the decision to wait. The P7P55D-E Premium motherboard will retail for $299 while the U3S6 add-on card will be $29.

    Here are a host of links I collected on it this morning...

    Asus Unveils USB 3.0 Motherboard []
    Asus Xtreme Design P7P55D-E Premium
    The motherboard, unveiled Wednesday [October 28 2009], is 4.8 inches by 3 inches and is scheduled to be available next month for $299.

    October 30th, 2009
    USB 3.0 and SATA 6G Performance Preview - ASUS brings the goods []
    the P55-Express based P7P55D-E Premium is very close to hitting the market.

    October 29th, 2009
    USB 3.0 and SATA 6G Performance Preview []

    October 29th, 2009
    This Is The First USB 3.0 Motherboard []

    October 28th, 2009
    ASUS debuts USB 3.0 motherboard and add-on card []
    The P7P55D-E Premium motherboard will retail for $299 while the U3S6 add-on card will be $29. Both will be available November.

    October 28th, 2009
    ASUS brings the first mobo with SATA 3 and USB 3 []

    October 28th, 2009
    ASUS P7P55D-E Motherboard Offers USB 3.0 and SATA-III 6G Performance []
    North American Availability
    The P7P55D-E Premium and U3S6 expansion cards will be available at ASUS authorized retailers early November at $299 and $29 respectively.

  • Re:Firewire owners (Score:2, Informative)

    by davester666 ( 731373 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @11:35AM (#29924505) Journal

    Yeah, parent is right. While FW1600 and FW3200 have been ratified standards for years, there doesn't appear to be any sign of anybody actually working on implementing them.

    Soon after FW1600 was ratified, 6 or 7 years ago, exactly one company announced they were working on creating a chip that supported it, and would be sampling it to hardware makers after about six months.

    After this one announcement, there have been no other announcements about FW1600 (and I couldn't find any information as to whether that one company actually made the chip or just bailed because of no demand for it), and nobody has announced any interest in creating chips that implement FW3200.

    Now, with eSATA connections being available on more computers and external HD enclosures, and with the coming of USB 3, which everybody and their dog will implement, making it both widespread and cheap, FireWire is over. It will continue to limp along for awhile at FW800, but I can see it being phased out once USB 3 becomes mainstream (say in 2011/2012).

  • Re:Firewire owners (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cowclops ( 630818 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @01:37PM (#29926193)

    "You know that BetaMax never really died? Almost every TV station in the US used it."

    Only the lowest budget TV stations would consider using Betamax. Betamax is a consumer format that, revisionist history aside, had only nitpicky benefits over VHS. Pretty similiar bandwidth/noise specs as VHS.

    What you're thinking of Beta-CAM (And more accurately, Betacam SP) which is records high bandwidth analog component video. This is what TV stations use, and the only thing in common it had with Betamax is that the smaller of the two tape formats it supported was, if memory serves, the same cassette as consumer betamax.

    TV stations would have upgraded directly from Umatic to Betacam because the consumer VHS/Betamax formats have too much loss from one generation to the next.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"