posted 05/16/03 by rob-ART
Updated 5/27/03 with comment
on 32 bit PCI bus vs 64 bit PCI bus
a drive, it's hard to beat Intech's
sustained test, I use 100MB block size so drive
cache isn't a factor. For the random test, I
average the 128K, 256K, 512K, and 1024K random
IN CASE YOU
HAVEN'T SEEN PAGE
IT CONTAINS REAL WORLD TESTS.
1. If you're
going to get the most out of your FireWire 800
RAID, you'll want to give each drive its own
channel by dedicating a PCI or built-in controller
to each drive.
reader wanted to know how fast a 4 drive FW800
RAID would run if daisy chained on a the 17"
PowerBook's single Fw800 port. It reads the same
speed as a dual drive single channel RAID. It
writes slower than a single drive, which tells
me there's some major "head bumping" in the
crowded single channel. If you're going to try a
FW800 RAID array on a 17" PowerBook, you might
want to add another channel by way of a CardBus
FW800 adapter once they become available.
have been offering FireWire 400 RAID boxes with
multiple drives in one case. I'm sure FireWire
800 RAID boxes will soon appear, but in either
case, you'll still need multiple controllers to
get the speeds published above... no matter what
2. To attain the
impressive speeds, I had to use up to three FW800
PCI cards in addition to the built-in FireWire 800
controller. Not everyone has that many PCI slots to
"burn." A better solution is a multi-channel FW800
such a thing. Indigita makes it. But it only
works in PCI-X slots... like the ones on the new
G5 and some Wintel machines.
I tested the Indigita FireWire
800 four channel PCI
this week. The test mule was an Xserve and the
results were abysmal. (41MB/s with four striped
drives.) Indigita assured me, however, that the
problem lies with the Intel PCI bridge used in
the Xserve. They got the same low numbers in
their lab. Apple's answer? It's Intel's
assures me they got 300MB/s with 8 drives on a
Wintel test unit that, by the way, uses a
ServerWorks PCI bridge. I will be testing on a
Xeon this weekend to see if I get my predicted
200MB/s with 4 drives. Hopefully, when I test on
the G5 Power Mac, I will get better performance
than experienced on the Xserve. Stay
3. I included
Ultra ATA-133 and Ultra320 SCSI dual drive striped
pairs for comparison purposes.
but one test, the dual drive/channel FW800 RAID
keeps up with its Ultra ATA cousin.
It took a
triple drive/channel FW800 RAID to meet or
exceed the speed of the dual drive/channel
Ultra320 SCSI. Of course, the Ultra320 SCSI
setup featured much faster drives (Cheetah
15,000 rpm with 3.4 ms average seek) and
controller (ATTO UL4D), but from a cost and
convenience standpoint, FW800 RAID deserves
serious consideration as an alternative to Ultra
SCSI (and Ultra ATA).
4. A shootout
between different brands of FireWire 800 enclosures
will come next week. For now, let me offer two
best performing drive for FireWire 800
enclosures is the Hitachi/IBM 180GXP. (The 120GB
or 180GB version with 8MB buffer beats the
Western Digital 1800JB and 2000BB hands
b. Not all
Macs will run the FireWire 800 drives at the
same speeds published above. For example, when I
ran a LaCie FW800 drive on a 17" PowerBook, it
ran my real world tests 12% slower.
commented in an earlier version of this article
that "older" Power Macs with 32 bit PCI bus would
probably run FW800 PCI cards slower than Power Macs
with 64 bit PCI bus. However, when I checked the
Apple technical documents, I discovered Apple has
been using 64 bit PCI slots since the advent of the
and White G3 Power
you have asked about FW800 CardBus on a
PowerBook. Since CardBus is only 32 bits "wide,"
there's some skepticism as to whether FW800
CardBus will go as fast as a FW800 PCI card on a
64 bit bus. I'm withholding my opinion until I
can actually test one. After all, Ultra SCSI
supported up to 80MB/s
per channel on a 32 bit PCI
IN CASE YOU
HAVEN'T SEEN PAGE
IT CONTAINS REAL WORLD TESTS.
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
800 vs USB 2.0 vs Ultra ATA vs Ultra
FireWire 800 enclosure
and FW 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
The test computer
was our trusty Apple
G4/1.42GHz Power Mac running OS X (10.2.6).
The FireWire 800
RAID tests were done using various combinations of
Mercury Elite FireWire 800 Enclosure, each with a
FireWire 800 PCI cards were from FWDepot
They were used in combination with the Power Mac's
built-in FW800 port.
Ultra ATA-133 PCI
card was the Acard
6880M HW RAID
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 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
(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
come from the same original manufacturer as
FWDepot's. The distinction is that you can order
OWC's enclosure with a pre-installed 180GXP hard
drive. They also include a copy of Intech's
800 enclosure comes in 200 to 500GB versions.
Sounds like they are targeting digital video
developers. They have their own FireWire 800 PCI
card. LaCie products 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. Order direct from
has the Hitachi-IBM
which is the fastest drive you can put in a
FireWire 800 case. These drives also scream when
used in an Ultra ATA setup.
white FireWire 800 cables are available from the
online store. (Drive enclosures ship with one
medium length FW800 cable.)