Can a MacWorks RocketFire PCI card match the speed of built-in FireWire?
First Posted 3/24/2000, updated 6/23/2000
© 2000 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
 One of the most exciting upgrade options available to the owners of "legacy" Power Macs is the "combo" FireWire/USB PCI card. As of January '2000 MacWorld Expo, OrangeMicro was boasting backorders on their OrangeLink card and two other companies announced a similar product. PowerLogix didn't have their RapidFire ready this week but MacWorks did get their RocketFire to me for testing:




The PCI based RocketFire card is just as fast as built-in FireWire. That's exciting news for owners of older PowerMacs who want to take advantage of the plethora of new FireWire and USB peripherals. For the new G4 Graphites, it's nice to know you can create additional FireWire and USB channels.

The OrangeMicro OrangeLink FireWire/USB card was a disappointment. So far I've tested 3 different boards on three different machines. I always get the same slower write speed (about 8MB/sec). I'm discussing the problem with OrangeMicro but as of 6/23/00, there has been no resolution of the speed issue. Therefore, I can't recommend it.

It's come to my attention that they use a NEC chip as a FireWire controller. The faster boards use a chip from TI or Lucent.

It's important to note that the current crop of FireWire drives are IDE drives in FireWire clothing. Unless there is some dramatic new development, internal drives using Ultra ATA interface remain up to two times faster.

Just be thankful we now have a convenient hot swappable, portable drive technology with transfer rates 15 times faster than USB drives.

Followup Testing
Stay tuned for results from running the RocketFire on a 7500 "Deuce Coupe" using the same VST full height 22 Gig drive and a G4/400 upgrade from Sonnet Technology.



Test Configurations & Procedures



...VST for the use of the Full Height FireWire drive

...MacWorks for the use of the RocketFire

...MacGurus for providing the OrangeLink for testing when OrangeMicro refused to do so. (However, once they saw the published results, they quickly sent me another test unit. It's still slow, though.)



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© 2000 Rob Art Morgan, editor of BARE FEATS
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