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FirmTek Ships External SATA Host Adapter and Hot-Swappable Enclosure

Originally posted December 1st, 2004 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

On November 30th, FirmTek became the first company to ship a SATA host adapter with external ports. I'm speaking of their SeriTek/1SE2 SATA host adapter with dual external ports.

FirmTek sprung a bonus surprise: their new Dual-Bay Hot-Swappable SATA external drive enclosure (SeriTek/1EN2) --- and it's shipping NOW, too. It can purchased separately or in a bundle with the 1SE2 card. The box features a low rpm (spelled "quiet") fan to cool the drives.

These products are particularly significant for those looking for dual external drive systems for their G4 or G5 Power Mac. For the first time, Mac users have a dual external drive solution that's faster than any FireWire 800 dual drive solution (including the LaCie BigDisk Extreme and Medea G-RAID). Plus it offers removable drive trays (and hot swap support). Yes. Just like with FireWire 800, you can mount and dismount drives on the fly. (I believe FirmTek is the first and only company that is shipping a SATA host adapter that supports hot-swap.)

The 1SE2 adapter from FirmTek is native SATA and firmware based. Therefore it is able to support using the exernal enclosure as a boot drive for Mac OS. That's in contrast to the HighPoint RocketRAID which requires a driver to load, emulates SCSI, and can't boot the system.

There is potential for loss of data integrity and damage to components from static electricity if external cables and connectors are not properly shielded. If you use internal cables for external SATA boxes, you are living on the edge. FirmTek has addressed this issue by adding metal shielding on the 1SE2 card's receptacles as well as on the connectors of the special external shielded cables they sell on their site (and include with bundles).

To dramatize the speed advantage of dual external SATA storage system on a G5 Power Mac over any dual drive striped (RAID 0) external FireWire 800 storage system, I'm including this Sustained Write Speed graph:

SeriTek = FirmTek SeriTek/1SE2 dual external port SATA host adapter and dual drive SATA enclosure (two drives)
Dual d2 = Two LaCie d2 Extreme FW800 enclosures (one drive each)
G-RAID = Medea G-RAID FW800 enclosure (two drives)
BigDisk = LaCie BigDisk Extreme FW800 enclosure (two drives)
(2ch) = Two channels -- in the case of FireWire 800, requires a PCI card in addition to the built-in FW800 port
(1ch) = Single FW800 built-in port/channel

FirmTek's dual external port SATA host adapter (SeriTek/1SE2) with metal shielded receptacles, dual-bay removable hot-swappable SATA drive enclosure (SeriTek/1EN2), and external shielded cables with metal shielded connectors team up to form a "killer" dual drive external storage system for any G5 or G4 Power Mac. This "dual duo" offers unbeatable speed, versatility, and affordability as a dual drive external storage solution.

I can't overemphasize the superiority of this hot-swappable dual drive system over any FireWire 800 dual drive system. It could be said that it makes those products obsolete.

Are you wishing their host adapter had 4 external ports? FirmTek should have a their 4 port adapters ready to show at the MacWorld Expo San Francisco 2005. Be sure to visit their booth (#516) and keep watching for the scoop.

You can order the FirmTek cards and enclosures direct from the FirmTek online store.

FWDepot caries their products, too.

Some of you are considering MacGurus Burly 2 drive removable kit as an althernative to FirmTek's SeriTek/1EN2. The main difference is that you have to assemble the Burly kit and its power supply is internal.

Granite Digital sells 1, 2, 4, and 8 drive SATA "Hot-Swap" enclosures. I don't see a host adapter offered on their site but I suppose you can use FirmTek's 1SE2 card with the 2 drive model.

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2004 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
Email , the webmaster and mad scientist