posted 05/10/03 by rob-ART
After all the
excitement generated in January, the production
versions of FireWire 800 (or IEEE 1394b) are
finally starting to hit the streets. I plan to do a
shootout between several models but I thought you'd
like to see the performance of the first products
to arrive in our lab: The FWDepot
enclosure comes with two FireWire 800 ports, one
FireWire 400 port, and a USB 2.0 port. So I decided
to run speed tests using all three types of
interfaces. In the case of the FW 800 port, I
connected it alternately to the FW800 PCI card and
the built-in FW800 port of the test computer (Power
Mac G4/1.42GHz MP).
I used a
Hitachi-IBM 180GXP 7200rpm 8MB buffer drive in the
FW800 enclosure. I then took the same drive and
connected it to the Sonnet Tempo ATA-133 PCI
controller. Finally I ran the same tests with the
newest version of the Seagate Cheetah 15K Ultra320
SCSI drive connected to the ATTO UL4D
1. You can see
that the FW800 interface is significantly faster
than the FW400 interface in all tests I ran. The
gap might have been greater if it wasn't for the
limitation of the drive speed. I expect the gap
will grow as faster hard drives, improved firmware,
and optimized drivers emerge.
2. I wanted to
know if the built-in FireWire 800 port was faster
or slower than the FireWire 800 PCI ports. Read
speed measured identical but write speed was
slightly better with built-in.
seen that phenomenon before. The write speed has
traditionally been lower on PCI based FireWire.
It's nice to see with FW800, the gap has
3. As you can see
above, the speed of FW800 is now very close to that
of ATA-133. In one sense, FW800 could be called
begs the question: "Is FW800 RAID equal to
ATA-133 RAID?" We're going to find out next week
when we test FW800 RAID in various
4. USB 2.0
remains a distant last compared to all the other
interfaces... except USB 1.0.
5. I offer you a
dose of reality by comparing FireWire 800 (and the
other interfaces) to one of the fastest Ultra320
SCSI drive/controller combinations: Seagate
drive on an ATTO UL4D
Ultra320 PCI controller. Ultra SCSI is pricey but
for sheer speed, it's still the one to
All the currently
shipping FireWire 800 products are based on the
Oxford 922 chip set. Read more about their bridge
chip and bridge board at Oxford's
has also tested FireWire 800 products.
Check out Bare
Feats' articles on FireWire
two, three, and four drive 800
FireWire 800 enclosure
and FireWire 800 optimizations.
tested the newest Hitachi-IBM, Maxtor, Seagate, and
Western Digital Ultra ATA drives. Although they
test on Windows systems using Ultra ATA
controllers, the results are instructive, since
those are the Hitachi-IBM and Western Digital
drives are being shipped in the new FireWire 800
case kits from OWC and LaCie. Be aware that putting
the same drives in FireWire 800 cases may produce a
different results from Ultra ATA controllers.
the Hitachi-IBM drive out performed the Western
WHERE TO BUY
FIREWIRE 800 PRODUCTS
(no drive) and FW800
is in stock and can be ordered direct from FWDepot.
They also have FW800 cables.
Mercury Elite FireWire 800 Enclosure and PCI card
are very similar in design to that of FWDepot. You
can order their enclosure with or without a
preinstalled hard drive.
FireWire 800 enclosure comes in 200 to 500GB
versions. Sounds like they are targeting digital
video developers. They can be purchased through
let me test their prototype FW800 bridgeboard and
PCI card back in January following MacWorld. Their
production unit will probably be shipping by the
time you read this.
has the Hitachi-IBM
we used in the test. I've found it to be the
fastest ATA drive and works very well in all types
of FireWire enclosures.
The test computer
was our trusty Apple
G4/1.42GHz Power Mac.
The FireWire 800,
FireWire 400, and USB 2.0 tests were done using the
with a Hitachi-IBM
cables were purchased from the Apple
PCI Card was
used alternately with the Power Mac's built-in
USB 2.0 PCI card
5 Port model.
Ultra ATA-133 PCI
card was Sonnet's
Ultra320 SCSI drive tested was the Seagate
drive with 3.6 avg seek time. It's available in
capacities. We tested the 73GB version.
The Ultra320 SCSI
controller was the UL4D
from ATTO Technology.
for details on the 5 tests reflected in the graphs.
One new variation. For RANDOM READ/WRITE, I
averaged the 128K, 256K, 512K, and 1024K random
read/writes from Intech's
QuickBenchX. I feel they best reflect typical
random access block sizes used by the OS and most