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Data Storage Hardware

Spec Will Cut External Drive Power Cords 167

Posted by Zonk
from the could-have-used-that-about-24-hours-ago dept.
Lucas123 writes "The Serial ATA International Organization just revealed that it is well along the way to finishing a specification that would remove separate power cords to external SATA drives or optical disk drives, allowing them to draw power from the host system. The resulting new cable, being called Power Over eSATA, will be compatible with the existing eSATA connector and support the current maximum interface transfer rate of 3Gb/s. The SATA organization expects the new cables to be released later this year to drive makers."
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Spec Will Cut External Drive Power Cords

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  • Cables (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:02PM (#22081972) Homepage Journal
    I wish they'd do something about this piss-poor connectors. I've had a number of them fail and had to junk them because they do not make a good solid connection, nothing prevents vibration from letting them slip.
    • Re:Cables (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:04PM (#22081996)
      Maybe you are not properly placing your vibrator?
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by pilgrim23 (716938)
      GOSH! they might even invent... Firewire! Who'da think it.
      • Firewire is more expensive and a non-native interface. FW800 is the closest to eSATA in performance, and even then, it's more expensive and slower.
        • Re:Cables (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:49PM (#22082588) Journal

          and a non-native interface
          Every single interface since IDE and SCSI have been non-native. That's what Integrated Drive Electronics means. The controller no longer sends native commands like 'move disk head' and 'read bytes' it sends abstract commands like 'read block 1406.' Your on disk controller translates these in to native commands. It is no harder to build a device that accepts FireWire commands directly and translates them in to native commands than it is to build one that understands SCSI or SATA. Most current FireWire drives go via SCSI or ATA because there is a much bigger demand for ATA drives than FireWire, but FireWire commands are almost identical to SCSI commands so such a drive could easily be built.
          • by pilgrim23 (716938)
            the first Firewire drives built to the 1394 standard were firewire direct. Granted they cost a bucketful! FirewireATA, Firewire SCSI and the like interfaces soon came and cut the price since Seagate et al said a big NO to native Firewire in an industrial way.. Now, my point was: Firewire is easy to use, supplies power, can be daisy chained like SCSI (more then one drive on a port) comes in the 400 and 800 flavors, and I have used it for many years on both PC and Mac.
            External SATA strikes me as simila
            • by SkyDude (919251)
              I remember when......when Vista was better then XP.

              Now I know I occasionally nod off during the day, but when exactly did THAT happen?

          • by dfghjk (711126)
            "Every single interface since IDE and SCSI have been non-native."

            What a nonsense statement.

            "That's what Integrated Drive Electronics means."

            No, the "integrated" in "IDE" referred to the ST-506 task file being integrated into the drive. "Non-native" means there's translation hardware that converts one interface to another. There is no standard drive interface below IDE/SCSI/SATA/SAS today. Those ARE the native interfaces.

            "The controller no longer sends native commands like 'move disk head' and 'read bytes
        • by misleb (129952)

          Firewire is more expensive and a non-native interface.

          SATA -> Firewire drive enclosures are pretty cheap. The difference in cost is insignificant.

          FW800 is the closest to eSATA in performance, and even then, it's more expensive and slower

          Yes, but Firewire is a much more flexible. Supports high end scanners, printers, networking, hard drives, optical drives, cameras, audio mixers, all kinds of stuff. Firewire is also very efficient. If I had a choice between a Firewire port and eSATA (even with power),

    • by jandrese (485)
      I have to agree with you on this. Even the internal cables feel pretty loose to me and will come off with the slightest tug. Sometimes I find a nice cable and a compatible drive and they'll click together nice and solid, but for the most part they just don't have the holding power I would like. Even if they don't fall off, they're probably the flimsiest connector you're likely to use on an external connection of any sort on your computer these days. I have a few that have metal reinforcement on them, bu
    • I agree. Any strain, and they come right out. So I bend the cable over the external drive, and duct tape it to the unit so it doesn't slip.
    • Re:Cables (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:31PM (#22082378)
      They also snap off and break! The piece of shit plastic slot on the hard drives, snaps off with ease.

      The durability of Sata connectors suck.

      • by afidel (530433)
        You just reminded me, I need to RMA that drive with Seagate. Or perhaps I should wait a couple years and abuse the 5 year warranty to get a bigger drive since I already bought a replacement and don't need another 160G drive right now =)
    • by Yo Grark (465041)
      Tell me about it.

      Had 3 of them "snap" off of 2 separate motherboards after only a few connect/disconnects.

      And before people tell me "it must be you", I had a technician call me and tell me he had to replace the mobo because he broke the remaining one off when he unplugged it to test a new HD.

      Granted it was one of the first generation mobo's, but we're talking ASUS boards here, not asrock (and YES I know, god you guys are picky!)

      Yo Grark
    • by tdelaney (458893)
      I find that plastic SATA cable connectors often split apart if any kind of force is applied to them (e.g. bending the cable too near the connector to make it fit). Older connectors were more prone to this - newer ones seem better made.

      It's a pain, but nothing that the application if gaffer tape won't fix.

      I haven't had any cables come out of either the motherboard or hard drive except of the connector has come apart, but they're not very well held in.

      I havn't used eSATA, so I can't comment on cables for that
  • by krog (25663) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:03PM (#22081978) Homepage
    Seriously -- it's two more pins. Why wasn't the spec designed right in the first place?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Daimanta (1140543)
      Because it would require thinking and *gasp* some work.
      • by RingDev (879105) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:12PM (#22082136) Homepage Journal
        It could have been a political issue in the industry as well. If there was strong opposition to any specific power over SATA spec, it could have held up the spec. Where as, going live with the widely accepted standard, and gaining a foothold, the spec now has the power to determine what the manufacturers should do as opposed to the other way around.

        -Rick
        • no excuse (Score:5, Interesting)

          by krog (25663) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:17PM (#22082196) Homepage
          USB has supported bus power forever. There's a protocol (devices can use up to 100mA without asking, up to 500mA with host device permission) and it works. eSATA, a newer spec, did not learn from this??
          • by rucs_hack (784150)
            USB has supported bus power forever.

            Yes, but only well for small devices. My iPod is supposed to be USB charged, but the trickle feed is useless for it. Apart from a joystick and keyboard I have, I avoid usb powered devices nowadays.

            • by krog (25663)
              That's ok; USB isn't designed to power heavy loads. 2.5W (5V x 500mA) is enough to spin a hard drive, light up the Num Lock lamp, illuminate an optical mouse, etc. And no one is saying eSATA power should be as limited as USB. I'm just making the point that a protocol for bus power existed, it is a killer feature for an external HD connection scheme, and the designers of eSATA chose to ignore it. Lazy.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Firethorn (177587)
                That's ok; USB isn't designed to power heavy loads. 2.5W (5V x 500mA) is enough to spin a hard drive

                It's enough to spin up a laptop HD, but not enough for the cheaper and higher storage but larger3.5" desktop type drives.

                Thus those drives need supplimental power, which is still annoying.

                I'd have been happier with a limit around 12 watts, which is enough to power a 7200RPM HD, though you might need a capaciter to limit current draw during peaks.

                12W@12V would be 1 Amp, so you'd only need a marginally thicker
                • I'd be surpised if this new standard used 12v. Chances are it uses 5v.
                  12v is considered pretty high to be part of a consumer device.
                  • Well, 5V is pretty odd for consumer devices as well - you have the actual choice of 4.5 or 6 using normal cells.

                    Still, it's pretty close to 4 rechargable NiMH cells (4.8v).

                    12v is considered pretty high to be part of a consumer device.

                    What sort of consumer device? There's lots of consumer devices that run at 110V, for example. ;)

                    Yes, 12V is high because you need 8 cells in series to get that much voltage - most devices just don't need that much wattage today. I'd mostly recommend 12V for USB simply to be a
                    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                      by cheater512 (783349)
                      Why are you talking about batteries?

                      5v is standard for TTL (transistor-transistor logic) digital circuits. 3.3v for more complex chips and 1.8v for low power stuff.
                      Good luck getting batteries to produce any of those voltages.
                      You will find all three of them plus 12v in your computer however.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Znork (31774)
                  12W@12V would be 1 Amp, so you'd only need a marginally thicker cable(or two)

                  Multiply it by 4 for sata and 4-8 for USB, and you would, however, have a noticably thicker motherboard (and/or separate PSU connectors and caps beside the USB and SATA connectors).

                  It's most likely not the cable that's the problem but the actual electronics that have to support the rated draw of the cable. Or worse, imagine having motherboards that dont support the rated draw and having users calling tech support with 'my computer
                  • Couldn't you simply have control over the power? As you plug in each device, it "requests" power, and the USB controller would allow or deny the request, based on current draw. I know you say someone plugging everything in at once could break things, but if you only have two hands, you can only plug two things in at the same time (and they won't both be plugged in within milliseconds of each other, while the USB controlled would only need 50-100 milliseconds to decide if it should supply the power or not).
                    • by Znork (31774)
                      Couldn't you simply have control over the power?

                      If I remember correctly, that's already done in USB; you dont have a guarantee of more than 100mA, but you can request it to step up to 500mA (so you can run a 4 port hub off one USB contact without extra power).

                      Even so, devices like disks could theoretically store power in a battery or capacitors to satisfy their short-term spikes, but as we dont see that happening I suspect it's an actual power constraint, rather than a design mistake.
                    • Even so, devices like disks could theoretically store power in a battery or capacitors to satisfy their short-term spikes, but as we dont see that happening I suspect it's an actual power constraint, rather than a design mistake.

                      With the rate at which solid state drives are being researched and produced, I see the power draw of spinning drives as a moot point.

                    • by afidel (530433)
                      Yeah and enough transistors to support decent capacities and decent speed draw absolutely no power... Samsung's 32GB SSD uses .9W, only about half what an equivalent performance 100GB laptop drive uses.
                    • There is a scenario where many devices will be connected at the same time: boot time.

                      Many people leave external devices plugged in. Y'know, keyboards, mice, printers, drives, etc. Pretty much covers the board.

                      If the spec can control power (as USB can), then I expect it to be smart enough to handle a simple bootup.

              • by darrylo (97569)
                While power-over-USB can appear to work in practice, you can (often?) violate the USB spec with USB-powered hard drives. Yes, 500mA may seem "enough", but even 2.5" laptop hard drives can draw 1A+ when spinning up. I've burned out some USB ports with cheap USB-powered 2.5" hard disk enclosures (bah, so much for overcurrent detection and protection). That sucks. ;-(

                I hope the power-over-SATA specs are at least 1.5A.

            • My cell phone recharges via USB very well. That said, I have learned that on "power cord optional" USB hubs, the power cord really isn't optional.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by RingDev (879105)

            ...did not learn from this??
            No idea, but a political argument theory holds more water than a "because they're dumb" theory IMO.

            -Rick
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Znork (31774)
          I can easily think of actual technical issues on this one.

          See, historically, disks have had their power supported by the PSU directly. Now you want to replace IDE and put SATA connectors on the motherboard. That's fine. Then you want the SATA connectors to supply power enough to drive one disk? Ok... Then you want the SATA connectors to supply enough power to drive four disks? That's an 80W or more power bus over the motherboard; motherboard manufacturers had just about gotten over having to add new power c
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jo42 (227475)

      Why wasn't the spec designed right in the first place?
      Because most of the time, the people that write these specs, or design this stuff, don't seem to use any products in the real world...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WarlockD (623872)
      Maybe because of the fact that some drives use both 5v and 12v. Or that the 3.3v (does any drive use that yet?) was needed

      To be honest, I don't even see if its possible for internal drives 3.5. Most of those drives use upwards of an amp off the 12v, and pushing 12watts down a little sata cable sounds like it would cause interference. Heck, it also means we have to add yet another 12v rail to the motherboard to support the power. It would be nice, however, for it on the eSATA connector. But thats the
      • by pclminion (145572)

        pushing 12watts down a little sata cable sounds like it would cause interference.

        It's DC. How could that cause interference?

        • by Agripa (139780)

          It's DC. How could that cause interference?

          The current is not constant (unless they use shunt regulation at the drive) so there will be inductive coupling to nearby conductors. Since the current varies the voltage does change although at the low impedances normally associated with power circuits the change it will not be much. It will however still be enough to potentially capacitively couple to nearby conductors. Preventing both of these effects is one of the reasons for including decoupling capacitors

      • by magarity (164372)
        it also means we have to add yet another 12v rail to the motherboard to support the power

        Not only that but any add-on cards for laptops will need a wall wart providing power in to them. Now talk about loose fitting; every USB2 and FW add on PCMCIA card I've had to use has had a miserable loose little socket for device power. I far prefer to use the wall wart that goes straight to the drive. I suspect I'm not the only one adding drives to laptops and this power over the data cable is not going to
    • Why wasn't it in original parallel ATA? 2 more ATA-66 pins would be a mere 2.5% pin count increase, whereas here it is a 40% increase!
      • by rrkap (634128)
        It did get included eventually. 2.5" drives use 44pin IDE cables that carry signal and power.
      • by harrkev (623093)
        Well, the Parallel ATA interface typically uses small wires (probably around 24-28 gauge). Do you really think that you can power a whole hard drive over a pair of #24 wires? Nope, not even close. You would either need to use different wires, which would require a custom connector, or you would have to use MULTIPLE wires (probably about 12-20 should be enough. That, however, makes the connector wider, the cable wider, and increases cost for everybody.

        Thick wires are cheap, and molex connectors are cheap
        • by magarity (164372)
          Do you really think that you can power a whole hard drive over a pair of #24 wires?
           
          My first thought was a standard skinny 80 pin flat cable with a couple of fat wires for power running down one side making it look all lopsided. what would be the retail prices on something like that, lol...
    • It's not "just" two pins, definitely not the same size conductor. I think the drives need as much as one amp on 12V and 5V, and it looks like at least four conductors are used to do that.
    • by truesaer (135079)
      That's an awfully simplistic view. A lot of devices use a lot of pins for power and ground, to ensure they can supply enough power. Otherwise if you use 2 you might need to use unusually large wires/pins, which can be awkward. Further, there are noise issues to consider. The power pins can't cause any interference on the data pins.
    • by araemo (603185)

      Why wasn't the spec designed right in the first place?

      That's my gripe with it..

      SATA is a great standard, and eSATA is a great idea... but they decided, for secure connections(it seems that even the SATA-io thinks the internal plugs aren't secure enough for external drives), they'd use a different connector. So you have to buy a different kind of cable for eSATA than internal SATA anyways..

      But instead of taking the opportunity to add power pins, and allow a full 3.5" drives' worth of power to be drawn from that port, they didn't add any power at all!

      Now they

    • by misleb (129952)

      Seriously -- it's two more pins. Why wasn't the spec designed right in the first place?


      They probably just assumed that most people using portable storage (as opposed to say a fixed external RAID) would just go with Firewire, which can provide lots of power.

      -matthew
  • USB? Firewire? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by snib (911978) <admin@snibworks.com> on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:18PM (#22082218) Homepage
    I guess I don't understand the value of eSATA. I don't see many eSATA drives, and I don't see many eSATA ports on computers or devices. Do we really need to add yet another port to laptops, in addition to the audio in/out, multimedia card, USB, Firewire, VGA, DVI, S-Video, Serial, Ethernet, Modem, etc etc? Wouldn't it make more sense to start eliminating ports and making everything work over USB, or Firewire, or some other spec?

    As far as the article, it looks like a neat new development, but I know that you can get power over USB and Firewire. Maybe not enough for an external hard drive (I don't know), but IMHO it makes more sense to upgrade the power capabilities of universal technologies rather than promoting an exclusively hard drive-related format.
    • Re:USB? Firewire? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:30PM (#22082360) Homepage Journal
      I think the advantage is supposed to be cost and speed. eSATA is faster than USB and Firewire (I think, dunno about the latest Firewire) and requires absolutely _no_ on board logic to work. With this new spec an external eSATA case is literally a metal box with a hole in it, maybe a passthrough connector if they're feeling swanky. They don't even need the transformer anymore. That makes it cheaper than USB and especially firewire.
    • try backing up your data to external 1TB drives through USB2. You'll soon see the importance of ESATA :)

      SPEED.

      USB is painful for disk transfers!

      ESATA is the way.

    • Re:USB? Firewire? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solra Bizna (716281) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:37PM (#22082440) Homepage Journal

      FireWire is a fairly general-purpose specification, designed so that devices that require a fixed (and quite large) amount of bandwidth can be guaranteed it, and designed with device-to-device communication in mind. Its maximum bandwidth is 400Mbps (unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it).

      SATA is a storage-device-oriented specification, designed pretty much so that drives can pump data over it as fast as they can read it, with a centralized paradigm and a much higher peak bandwidth at 1.5Gbps (or 3Gbps, but see the note about FW800 above).

      Using USB for storage devices is perverted and wrong; it's synchronous, so your practical bandwidth is limited by the length of your cable and the response time of the nodes at either side. On the other hand, a design like that is pretty great for things like user input devices, which is one reason nobody ever talks about making FireWire mice.

      So, in summary, SATA is more suitable for disks than FireWire, and USB is dog-slow. Any questions?

      -:sigma.SB

      • Re:USB? Firewire? (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:58PM (#22082684) Journal

        unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it
        FireWire 800 has been around for ages. My old PowerBook (4 years old) and my 'new' MacBook Pro (1 year old) both support it and I have had two external LaCie hard drives for three years which have two FireWire 800 ports which allow drives to be chained together.

        The spec has allowed 3200Mb/s over fibre for years but I've not seen any consumer products supporting it. The latest version of the spec (just approved) supports 3200Mb/s over the same cables and connectors as existing FireWire 800 systems.

        • "The spec has allowed 3200Mb/s over fibre for years but I've not seen any consumer products supporting it. The latest version of the spec (just approved) supports 3200Mb/s over the same cables and connectors as existing FireWire 800 systems."

          I have never understood this about "specs". If the cable already had the physical bandwidth to transmit 3200Mb/s from day 1, then why did the orginal "spec", which is just a document after all, specify that higher number? I have the same question for USB 1.1 vs. 2.0 - w
          • by rrkap (634128)

            Because that argument doesn't hold water for me; it would be perfectly valid to write the spec for the THEORETICAL FUTURE when such speeds are possible and just wait for hardware to catch up with the spec.

            When you see a device described as USB, USB 2.0, FireWire 400, SCSI-160 or whatever, you should be able to make assumptions about how quickly the bus will perform. If your standard is for a performance level that you can't achieve then knowing a device conforms to a specific spec says nothing about how

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        "unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it"

        Two Firewire 800 devices that I use every day:

        Lacie external drives http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=10922 [lacie.com]

        RME Fireface 800 http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_fireface_800.php [rme-audio.de]

        While they don't use the full bandwidth individually, it's nice to be able to chain without worrying about audio/video dropouts.

        So does coupling power with data restrict the potential to chain SATA devices in the future when the b

      • by necro81 (917438)

        FireWire is a fairly general-purpose specification, designed so that devices that require a fixed (and quite large) amount of bandwidth can be guaranteed it, and designed with device-to-device communication in mind. Its maximum bandwidth is 400Mbps (unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it).

        One other thing that Firewire has going for it is its power spec, which (when using the full-sized connector) can provide up to 45 W [wikipedia.org]. That compares to only 2.5 W for a (powered)

        • by Agripa (139780)

          For reasons I can't fathom, however, I haven't ever seen an external 3.5" hard drive that can pull its power from Firewire, even though it would only require 12-15 W.

          I would agree that the situation is a real shame however the two reasons for the lack of Firewire powered devices that occur to me are:

          1. Not all Firewire ports have power and those that do will not power all devices so an alternative power adapter will be need to be made available anyway.

          2. It is cheaper to use existing AC input power designs

      • by geekoid (135745)
        Yeah:
        If you are concerned about performance, why aren't you using SCSI? Compared to SCSI, all the are perverted and wrong.

        I actually use USB2.0 for my external drive. It was cheap, and I only need it for back up of our pictures. So top speed wasn't a concern.
        • by PitaBred (632671)
          SATA's cheaper and easier to use than SCSI, but still nearly as fast in most cases. Many people who build computers just want to plug the drives in, they don't want to try to figure out which one is using which bus ID, and make sure they're all using the right ones and don't have two drives set to the same ID, etc.
    • by TeknoHog (164938)
      A "native" disk-oriented protocol is necessary for SMART [wikipedia.org], and probably for things like fancy hdparm settings as well.
    • by cgenman (325138)
      eSATA is just SATA with bigger, less fragile connectors. As a standard, it's free to them to implement. eSata hard drives are just SATA hard drives plugged into the motherboard via a pair of pass-through connectors.

      As a consumer, USB is much more convenient. But you're not going to be able to setup a RAID array of external USB drives, while you can do that with eSATA. And you can have an eSata port by just plugging some wires into an existing sata port on your mobo.
  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:21PM (#22082258)
    Is there much of a reason that we couldn't have single power+data connectors for internal HDD / DVD drives as well? Things are better now that IDE cables are less common, but I'd still be happy for a cleaner interior of my cases.
    • by hey (83763)
      Nice idea. I like it tidy inside my computer as well.
    • by Firethorn (177587)
      They take a lot of juice, potentially? Your standard wire going to the molex plugs in use are around 16 gauge, not exactly small. Mostly overkill, but traces are normally designed for fractions of an amp - think about video cards and their auxillery power ports today.
      • How would the external drives use any less power than internal? I don't think anyone's expecting these cables to be as thin as internal SATA cables; nor do they expect internal "power over SATA" to not require a beefier unified cable. They just want one simple cable to avoid the clutter.
        • by Firethorn (177587)
          I was thinking of the DVD part - and why you'd still want a seperate feed for powering internal drives.

          For external drives, sure they use extra power, but you could incorporate a molex plug to keep the power off the motherboard. Or at least next to the powered external SATA plugs.

          Externally unifying the cable matters a bit more than internally, at least in my mind.

          Combining the power and data cable on the MB would/will complicate matters in motherboard design.
    • by MBCook (132727)

      Not going to happen. There are certain considerations in external drives. Most won't take a ton of power, they'll be 7200 RPM or something like that. In a case, you see people with 10 and 15k drives that use much more power.

      The biggest problem is that what we have works very well. It supplies a few different kinds of power (3.3/5/12v?) so they drive probably doesn't need to step that up or down. Using one power connector the external drive will have to step down the power from the max (12v?) to be able to

      • (3.3/5/12v?)
        The standard 4-pin molex connector has one 12v (yellow), one 5v (red) and two ground pins. There is no 3.3v pin.
        • But a Sata power plug does have a 3.3V pin. A lot of sata hard-disks work without it, but this is either because they were designed for molex power (and may even have a molex socket), or have been designed to step 5V down to 3.3V if they need it and it isn't available.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      Is there much of a reason that we couldn't have single power+data connectors for internal HDD / DVD drives as well?

      Nostalgia? The big ol' 4-pin Molex power connectors are practically the only thing inside a PC case that are still the same as they were when IBM first introduced them to the desktop twenty-seven years ago. If we get rid of those, we'll be severing the last remaining connection to the machine's origins.

      • by British (51765)
        If we get rid of those, we'll be severing the last remaining connection to the machine's origins.

        Good riddance. Trying to mitigate ribbon IDE cables + daisy-chained power cables was never fun. I just wonder why it took 27 years to do it. Really, I will have no gloating of the PCs of tomorrow having no inherent design flaws with PCs of yesteryear. The less of a rat's nest of cables in a PC, the happier I will be. No more worries of cables getting in the way of fan blades, etc.
      • by cgenman (325138)
        If we get rid of those, we'll be severing the last remaining connection to the machine's origins.

        They're also one of the only things that continues to work well. They're impossible to put in upside-down. They're beefy and long-lasting. They hold together well. They're easy to modify to fit special needs. They're dirt-cheap to make.

        You could argue that smaller Molex connectors would be nice, but you might be able to reduce the size by 50% in exchange for a lot of retooling and standard confusion. But y
    • Take a look at modular PSUs. More expensive, but definitely better. You basically plug in whatever cables you want into the PSU.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrNemesis (587188)
      Think of every 12V line going into every hard drive in your machine. Now think of every 12V line having to be routed through the motherboard.

      It essentially won't happen because it'll make motherboards much more complicated (read: expensive). That said, power-over-SATA shoudl have been in the e-SATA spec from the beginning, glad I didn't hop on the bandwagon earlier.
      • by Kjella (173770)
        Big connector on motherboard near PSU, wires glued to the underside leading to whereever the SATA ports are on the board and basicly punch through? I agree that if you make them part of the motherboard layers it'll make it more expensive, but I really don't see any reason to do that for a pass-through.
  • Power Over eSata?

    Look at those uppercases, the only acronym/abbreviation they can go for is either POeS (not too great, but better than) POS...

    I can only hope it's a meta-commentary, the designers' own reaction to another port and yet-another-acronym...

  • by DanQuixote (945427) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @01:44PM (#22082532)

    One of my tech support calls was about 1980, my friend's mom had a computer, and she bought a printer, which she tried to hook up herself, but it wasn't working.

    I went over there and quickly spied the problem... the data cable was connected, but there was no power cable hooked up.

    She quite innocently and logically asked, "why do I need a separate power cable?"

    People don't really give a damn that the power system and the data system are two separate systems. It really is completely reasonable for them to expect a single cable to power as well as communicate.

    These folks shouldn't pat themselves on the back for a "new feature", they should try harder next time to close a bug out in something much less than 30 years!

    This is a basic usability requirement that people persistantly ignore despite the rat's nests of cables running around all their gear. This is certainly one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of USB!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by harrkev (623093)

      She quite innocently and logically asked, "why do I need a separate power cable?"
      Does she also plug her cable feed (or sattelite receiver) into her television and expect it to work without plugging the TV into 120V?
      • by Khaed (544779)
        Maybe she's Amish and doesn't have a TV you insensitive cl- oh wait, printer, right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DanQuixote (945427)

        Clearly you are a good engineer, and as every good engineer knows, it's all about trade-offs. If Tesla had his way, there would indeed NOT be a separate power cord for the TV.

        Overall historically, we've made pretty good decisions about how to handle power. However, in the last 10 years I have been very disappointed with consumer electronics. Powering a device is a major requirement for anything we design, yet batteries still suck, wall-warts continue to proliferate, mp3 players don't charge via a standar
    • It really is completely reasonable for them to expect a single cable to power as well as communicate.

      Should have got her a Coleco Adam. Nothing like a computer that's tied its printer at the hip! ;-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Frenchy_2001 (659163)
      "why do I need a separate power cable?"
      because most computer systems are not designed to provide the few amps of current that a laser printer can need?
      Because most of those interface are designed for low power peripherals and have specs mirroring that (USB for example can feed 0.5A into its own cable), but more powerful peripherals get plugged into it. So, to work, they need more power and get an external adapter.

      The *REAL* problem comes from people unable (or, much more likely unwilling) to follow directio
  • by dwalsh (87765) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @02:14PM (#22082934)
    Parallel ATA (A.K.A IDE): Big Parallel data cable with a shitload of pins. 4 pin power cable.

    Serial ATA: Serial data cable with just 7 pins. Power cable has twice as many pins!

    Did they just move the lines to the power cable? :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gat0r30y (957941)
      7 pins, but just 4 wires going in (unless you got a 3.3V line too which is not necessary on the bulk of SATA drives). The 7 pins make it hot swapable, you can just yank power to a drive, and it doesn't hose the whole thing. I do failure analysis on hard drives all day (its my job), and for me it is about the best part of the SATA spec (since I don't have to reboot machines just to throw a different drive in for testing).
      On another note, I'd guess this is also why it took so long to come out with an eSA
  • Yikes, did some funny South Africans tag this article? 'Poes' is a 'lekker' South Africanism meaning, more or less, 'pussy' ...

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