Tag Archives: speed

External storage transfer speed comparison (usb, firewire, esata)

After getting my ExpressCard 54 esata card I decided to do a speed comparison between the commonly used external drive connections. The test covers usb, firewire and esata and was done via the great free DiskBench tool using the default “Create Batch File” mode configuration.

The usb results aren’t surprising at all but the esata stuff was quite the surprise. Check out my results below.. try the tool your self and submit your speeds in the comments.

Device: oem 500gb hdd in NexStar CX esata/usb case
Connection: esata via Silcon Image Sil 3132 pci-e x1 card

48 MB; H:\Test; 50331648 bytes; 228 ms; 210.526 MB/s
52 MB; H:\Test; 54525952 bytes; 246 ms; 211.382 MB/s
56 MB; H:\Test; 58720256 bytes; 270 ms; 207.407 MB/s
60 MB; H:\Test; 62914560 bytes; 288 ms; 208.333 MB/s
64 MB; H:\Test; 67108864 bytes; 315 ms; 203.175 MB/s
68 MB; H:\Test; 71303168 bytes; 318 ms; 213.836 MB/s
72 MB; H:\Test; 75497472 bytes; 333 ms; 216.216 MB/s
76 MB; H:\Test; 79691776 bytes; 358 ms; 212.291 MB/s
80 MB; H:\Test; 83886080 bytes; 395 ms; 202.532 MB/s
84 MB; H:\Test; 88080384 bytes; 401 ms; 209.476 MB/s

Device: Western Digital My passport 320gb hdd
Connection: Firewire 400 via VIA based pci usb/firewire card

48 MB; I:\Test; 50331648 bytes; 452 ms; 106.195 MB/s
52 MB; I:\Test; 54525952 bytes; 436 ms; 119.266 MB/s
56 MB; I:\Test; 58720256 bytes; 408 ms; 137.255 MB/s
60 MB; I:\Test; 62914560 bytes; 445 ms; 134.831 MB/s
64 MB; I:\Test; 67108864 bytes; 498 ms; 128.514 MB/s
68 MB; I:\Test; 71303168 bytes; 468 ms; 145.299 MB/s
72 MB; I:\Test; 75497472 bytes; 499 ms; 144.289 MB/s
76 MB; I:\Test; 79691776 bytes; 608 ms; 125.000 MB/s
80 MB; I:\Test; 83886080 bytes; 624 ms; 128.205 MB/s
84 MB; I:\Test; 88080384 bytes; 1036 ms; 81.081 MB/s

Device: oem 160gb hdd
Connection: esata via AKE BCE418 ExpressCard 54 card

48 MB; F:\Test; 50331648 bytes; 562 ms; 85.409 MB/s
52 MB; F:\Test; 54525952 bytes; 520 ms; 100.000 MB/s
56 MB; F:\Test; 58720256 bytes; 499 ms; 112.224 MB/s
60 MB; F:\Test; 62914560 bytes; 639 ms; 93.897 MB/s
64 MB; F:\Test; 67108864 bytes; 638 ms; 100.313 MB/s
68 MB; F:\Test; 71303168 bytes; 687 ms; 98.981 MB/s
72 MB; F:\Test; 75497472 bytes; 686 ms; 104.956 MB/s
76 MB; F:\Test; 79691776 bytes; 701 ms; 108.417 MB/s
80 MB; F:\Test; 83886080 bytes; 751 ms; 106.525 MB/s
84 MB; F:\Test; 88080384 bytes; 748 ms; 112.299 MB/s

Device: Western Digital My passport 320gb hdd
Connection: usb via Intel chipset onboard usb 2.0 controller

48 MB; I:\Test; 50331648 bytes; 619 ms; 77.544 MB/s
52 MB; I:\Test; 54525952 bytes; 629 ms; 82.671 MB/s
56 MB; I:\Test; 58720256 bytes; 747 ms; 74.967 MB/s
60 MB; I:\Test; 62914560 bytes; 667 ms; 89.955 MB/s
64 MB; I:\Test; 67108864 bytes; 792 ms; 80.808 MB/s
68 MB; I:\Test; 71303168 bytes; 848 ms; 80.189 MB/s
72 MB; I:\Test; 75497472 bytes; 869 ms; 82.854 MB/s
76 MB; I:\Test; 79691776 bytes; 936 ms; 81.197 MB/s
80 MB; I:\Test; 83886080 bytes; 1007 ms; 79.444 MB/s
84 MB; I:\Test; 88080384 bytes; 1058 ms; 79.395 MB/s

Device: Sandisk Cruzer 8Gb
Connection: usb via Intel chipset onboard usb 2.0 controller

48 MB; I:\Test; 50331648 bytes; 47293 ms; 1.015 MB/s
52 MB; I:\Test; 54525952 bytes; 59256 ms; 0.878 MB/s
56 MB; I:\Test; 58720256 bytes; 64996 ms; 0.862 MB/s
60 MB; I:\Test; 62914560 bytes; 68553 ms; 0.875 MB/s
64 MB; I:\Test; 67108864 bytes; 74228 ms; 0.862 MB/s
68 MB; I:\Test; 71303168 bytes; 79842 ms; 0.852 MB/s
72 MB; I:\Test; 75497472 bytes; 84939 ms; 0.848 MB/s
76 MB; I:\Test; 79691776 bytes; 88778 ms; 0.856 MB/s
80 MB; I:\Test; 83886080 bytes; 92874 ms; 0.861 MB/s
84 MB; I:\Test; 88080384 bytes; 98185 ms; 0.856 MB/s

Firewire vs. USB

First let’s start with the history of the technology… Firewire came first in 1995 developed by Apple Inc. It was designed for high speed real-time data transfer and replaced firewire and scsi since it was lower cost to impliment and had a more flexible cable system.  USB was then created in 1996 as a new standard that was meant to replace serial,parallel,ps2, and many other port types. Part of the core  tech was the fact that the user is able to connect/disconnect devices without powering down or restarting the machine (with proper eject on the software end).

Both technologies have evolved over time and have gotten better. Firewire initially launched with the 400 spec that has the speed range of 100, 200, or 400 mbit/s and later on the 800 spec was released with the speed range of 786.432 mbit/s with higher speeds on the horizon. Usb launched with the 1.0 spec that had the transfer speed of 12 mbit/s, later on the 1.1 spec got with a 480mbit/s a vast improvement over the earlier spec… the 3.0 spec promises higher speeds with its release later on.

Now for the major advantages that favor firewire over usb.. Usb is host mode and relies on the host computers cpu and tends to suffer from overhead and Firewire is peer to peer based thus the controller on the drive, camera, etc talks back and forth with the device controller on the computer allowing for faster data transfer.

Now I have had the chance to personally use firewire when I got my WD My Passport Studio drive for my MacBook… it is capable of Usb 2.0, Firewire 400/800 and wow the transfer speed is majorly faster than usb2.

In the end always go for firewire whenever possible if you got the choice since you will have higher transfer speeds in most situations.

Enough of my ramblings… time for me to stop writing and post this :)

Sources

Firewire – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firewire
Usb – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usb