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Data Storage Upgrades Hardware Technology

First-Ever USB 3.0 Hard Drive 191

Posted by timothy
from the if-you're-tired-of-the-current-cables dept.
dreemteem writes "After 8 years of success, the USB 2.0 standard has begun its long journey into obsolescence. Dutch storage company Freecom has announced the first mainstream storage product based on 'SuperSpeed' USB 3.0. Buyers will be interested to hear that the new external Hard Drive XS 3.0 doesn't cost the earth at £99 (approx $160) for a 1TB drive, even though that excludes the £22.99 for a desktop PCI-bus controller necessary to make it work at its intended throughput. Laptop users can pair it with a £25.99 plug-in PC Card to achieve the same effect."
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First-Ever USB 3.0 Hard Drive

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  • by intermodal (534361) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:36PM (#29532347) Homepage Journal

    Until USB 3.0 ports are all over computers everywhere, USB 2.0 will be alive and kicking. I just hope they avoid the pitfall some manufacturers did, with some ports in the past having been 1.1 and only some being 2.0 on the same machine. That was a pain. I hope any new computer sold will have either all 2.0 or all 3.0 capable ports, I don't want that stupid design to repeat itself.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:50PM (#29532509) Journal

    Buying a faster connection technology won't somehow make your hard drive faster.

    What if you aren't going to your hard drive?

  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:51PM (#29532525) Journal

    The drive may not cost the earth, but that's still around 50% more than you'd pay for a 1TB external drive with a USB 2.0 interface.

    Just sayin'

  • by Blue Stone (582566) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:55PM (#29532555) Homepage Journal

    >Until USB 3.0 ports are all over computers everywhere, USB 2.0 will be alive and kicking.

    USB 2.0 WILL remain alive and kicking - it's supposed to. You don't need USB3's bandwidth for keyboards and mice and the like. The fact that USB3 devices can be used with USB2 ports (and cables) - albeit at USB2 speeds - means that they've also avoided the trap Firewire fell into. Seems like they're doing it right.

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:56PM (#29532573)

    Ignoring the naive assumption, USB 2 is as fast or faster than the majority of hard drives (which average reads in the 50-60MB/s range). Buying a faster connection technology won't somehow make your hard drive faster.

    I'm not going to ignore the blatantly wrong assertion that USB2 can transfer data at a 480Mbit/sec (60MB/sec), because it can't. That's wire speed. Latency (each packet must be acknowledged) and software handling of data kill speed dramatically.

    http://www.everythingusb.com/usb2/faq.htm#4

    As far as we know, effective rate reaches at 40MBps or 320Mbps for bulk transfer on a USB 2.0 hard drive with no one else is sharing the bus. Flash Drives seem to be catching up too with the some hitting 30MB/s milestone. For all we know, USB interface could become become the bottleneck for flash drives as early as 2008. Additional notes from Alex Esquenet - our engineer friend based in Belgium: "A fast usb host can achieve 40 MBytes/sec. The theorical 60 MB/sec cannot be achieved, because of the margin taken between the sof's (125 us), so if a packet cannot take place before the sof, the packet will be rescheduled after the next sof. On top of that, all the USB transactions are handled by software on the PC. For instance, a USB host on a PCI bus will send or receive the data via the PCI bus; the stack will prepare the next data in memory and receive interrupt from the host."

    Watch a linux host some time with 'top' as you transfer a bunch of data to/from a USB2 drive, and prepare to be shocked at how much time is sucked up by the USB driver.

    So yes, there is an immediate potential benefit given that many desktop drives can now push 100MB/sec at the end of the platter, and at the inside of the platter, still top USB speeds. Whether or not USB3 solves the clusterfuck of software drivers handling low-level protocol details etc is another matter entirely.

    In the meantime, buy a firewire 400 card, or even better, a fw800 card. You can get a 400-to-800 adapter cable for anything that isn't fw800, but it's pretty damn easy to find these days. Even if the data doesn't move much faster, you'll be using far less CPU.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:58PM (#29532587)
    The fact that USB3 devices can be used with USB2 ports (and cables) - albeit at USB2 speeds - means that they've also avoided the trap Firewire fell into.

    What trap? S800 devices can run at S400 if necessary, just like S400 can run at S100.

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:58PM (#29532595) Homepage Journal

    What if you aren't going to your hard drive?

    The submission is concerned with connecting a hard drive. As mentioned, anyone with a speed issue with transfer speeds could have been using the superior eSATA for some time now: It's inexpensively supported by lots of devices, and exposes the native capabilities of the storage device to the controller. Win/win, a no bleeding edge drivers or poor vendor support.

    I'm not down on USB 3, I just think this is a gimmicky way to get some attention for a non-solution. It's cool when all connection technologies get better, so faster ethernet, wireless, bluetooth, USB, etc -- it's all good.

  • by rcolbert (1631881) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:59PM (#29532597)
    USB serves well as a general purpose interface for a multitude of peripherals. The new transfer rates of USB 3.0 are a nice upgrade overall, and will likely result in some very nice new product capabilities over time. However, in consumer storage USB will likely remain a distant second to SATA-based interfaces, even with the speed boost. USB is nice for portable devices and external, removable drives. I'm hopeful this type of use case is somewhat on the decline. The barrier IMO is lack of options for networked storage in the home that is both cost effective and performs well. I can't imagine USB drives replacing internal storage anytime soon. And, as linked-to in this article, SATA isn't sitting still either and the SATA 3.0 specification is faster still than USB 3.0. In all cases, it seems there is a continuing need for the drives themselves to keep pace with the interfaces. I can't help but think we're close to the end of the line for rotating, magnetic media.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:00PM (#29532619) Journal

    I was intrigued by the statement in the article about connecting to a laptop via PC Card. From the linked article:

    "USB 3.0 boosts the theoretical data throughput of USB storage devices to 4.8Gbit/s from USB 2.0's now rather tardy-sounding 480Mbit/s."

    Unfortunately, according to WikiPedia, the ExpressCard standard (which is the latest version of PC Card) tops out at 2.5Gbit/s, which, granted, is a lot better than 480Mbit/s, but still only about 1/2 the max speed defined by the USB 3.0 standard. Sounds to me like the PC Card/ExpressCard bus needs to evolve to keep up (although, honestly, I suppose you can say that, largely, the PC Card slot has become redundant because of USB3/FirewireS3200/eSata; anything faster than those will require you to upgrade your laptop, anyhow, to get a faster PC Card slot, so just upgrade to get a faster USB/Firewire/eSata, and forget about PC Card altogether).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:02PM (#29532639)

    Ignoring the naive assumption, USB 2 is as fast or faster than the majority of hard drives (which average reads in the 50-60MB/s range).

    USB 2 as fast or faster than most hard drives? What drugs are you on?

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:17PM (#29532781)

    speed and cpu load next to a firewire / e-sata disk?

    I think that the they are faster with less cpu load.

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drizek (1481461) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:32PM (#29532987)

    It will be supported in Windows 7 SE.

  • by gumpish (682245) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:20PM (#29534281) Journal

    Yes, 1394b has a different set of connectors, but a simple adapter is all that is required. I suspect that any Apple store, and any well-stocked computer store, has them for just a few bucks. It's not a big deal.

    Spoken like a true Apple apologist.

  • by TorKlingberg (599697) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @06:32PM (#29534385)

    There are different USB cables for different devices, but not for different computers. If I bring my USB harddrive and its cable over to a friend, I know it will fit with his computer, whether he has USB 1.1, 2.0 or 3.0.

  • by dakameleon (1126377) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:24PM (#29534951)

    I suspect that any Apple store... has them for just a few bucks.

    A few bucks? At an Apple store? Good fucking luck.

  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:30PM (#29535011) Homepage Journal

    Yea, those dirty FireWire guys making us use different connectors on everything. (Ignoring miniUSB and the new microUSB connectors and the custom miniature USB connectors found on some cameras)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @07:57PM (#29535265)

    Its obvious he meant megabytes. Christ, do you need to be such a snot-nosed pedant?

  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @10:13PM (#29536057)

    What if you aren't going to your hard drive?

    The submission is concerned with connecting a hard drive.

    Most modern drives are more than capable of saturating USB2. High performance drives, solid state or platter based, are noticeably limited by the connection.

    As mentioned, anyone with a speed issue with transfer speeds could have been using the superior eSATA for some time now: It's inexpensively supported by lots of devices, and exposes the native capabilities of the storage device to the controller.

    Which is fine if you have eSATA. But plenty of laptops and desktop motherboards don't have it as standard. Everything has USB.

    I'm not down on USB 3, I just think this is a gimmicky way to get some attention for a non-solution.

    It's a non-solution for you. That doesn't mean it's not a solution for other people.

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday September 25, 2009 @01:24PM (#29541391)

    Because you never need an adapter for USB [amazon.com] right ?

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