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First-Ever USB 3.0 Hard Drive

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the if-you're-tired-of-the-current-cables dept.

Data Storage 191

dreemteem writes "After 8 years of success, the USB 2.0 standard has begun its long journey into obsolescence. Dutch storage company Freecom has announced the first mainstream storage product based on 'SuperSpeed' USB 3.0. Buyers will be interested to hear that the new external Hard Drive XS 3.0 doesn't cost the earth at £99 (approx $160) for a 1TB drive, even though that excludes the £22.99 for a desktop PCI-bus controller necessary to make it work at its intended throughput. Laptop users can pair it with a £25.99 plug-in PC Card to achieve the same effect."

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3.0 Wheres 4.0? (0, Flamebait)

TheRealPacmanJones (1600187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532303)

I just invented 4.0. Estimated at 10,000x as fast as USB 1.0.

Re:3.0 Wheres 4.0? (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532315)

Spec, or it didn't happen.

Re:3.0 Wheres 4.0? (5, Funny)

Triela (773061) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532997)

Spec now, or forever old your (US)Bs.

Re:3.0 Wheres 4.0? (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532333)

I'm waiting for this spec to go to eleven...

Re:3.0 Wheres 4.0? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532473)

USB Eleventy.42 will be OVER NINE THOUSAND times faster than USB 2.0!

Re:3.0 Wheres 4.0? (1)

TheRealPacmanJones (1600187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532461)

Flamebait really? Someone take a joke.....

Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (5, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532347)

Until USB 3.0 ports are all over computers everywhere, USB 2.0 will be alive and kicking. I just hope they avoid the pitfall some manufacturers did, with some ports in the past having been 1.1 and only some being 2.0 on the same machine. That was a pain. I hope any new computer sold will have either all 2.0 or all 3.0 capable ports, I don't want that stupid design to repeat itself.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (2, Insightful)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532555)

>Until USB 3.0 ports are all over computers everywhere, USB 2.0 will be alive and kicking.

USB 2.0 WILL remain alive and kicking - it's supposed to. You don't need USB3's bandwidth for keyboards and mice and the like. The fact that USB3 devices can be used with USB2 ports (and cables) - albeit at USB2 speeds - means that they've also avoided the trap Firewire fell into. Seems like they're doing it right.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532587)

The fact that USB3 devices can be used with USB2 ports (and cables) - albeit at USB2 speeds - means that they've also avoided the trap Firewire fell into.

What trap? S800 devices can run at S400 if necessary, just like S400 can run at S100.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (3, Informative)

timbck2 (233967) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533149)

FW800 devices use different connectors than FW400 and thus require adapters, while the USB 3.0 connector will plug into a USB 2.0 port (and run at USB 2.0 speed).

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533701)

Yes, 1394b has a different set of connectors, but a simple adapter is all that is required. I suspect that any Apple store, and any well-stocked computer store, has them for just a few bucks. It's not a big deal. It's hardly a "trap".

I'd say its better than using the same connector because you don't fall into the trap set by USB1 and USB2. You can't tell by looking if a computer has USB1 or USB2, or which ports on multi-controller systems are 1 and 2. You can't pick up a hub and tell if it is USB2 without searching for the USB2 label.

It's too easy to plug a USB2 device into a USB1 port and be stuck wondering when the data transfer will be done. It will be too easy to plug a USB3 device into a USB1 port and wonder why you paid extra for USB3 when the data transfer is as slow as it always was.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (3, Insightful)

gumpish (682245) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534281)

Yes, 1394b has a different set of connectors, but a simple adapter is all that is required. I suspect that any Apple store, and any well-stocked computer store, has them for just a few bucks. It's not a big deal.

Spoken like a true Apple apologist.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (2, Insightful)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534951)

I suspect that any Apple store... has them for just a few bucks.

A few bucks? At an Apple store? Good fucking luck.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29535033)

Windows alerts you about using USB 2 devices on USB 1 ports. I doubt it would be that difficult to do on any other OS. The fun one is when you supposedly have the USB 2 drivers, USB 2 ports, etc. but are still getting yelled at about reduced speeds because something is screwed up in the drivers.

And on the bit about an 'adapter'.... It is a big enough pain figuring out that you are missing a cable that you need at midnight, let alone keeping track of every single adapter you need for every device/cable/computer combination. But most retail stores sell those adapters for $10*, so it isn't like it costs that much.

*Estimate, I know dvi hdmi are $30 and usbusb cables/adapters are $20... On average a 500-1000% markup.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533977)

No, USB 2 plus will plug into USB 3 ports, not the other way round. USB 3 plugs have an extra section, either to the side, or above, to carry the high-speed fibre link.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (4, Informative)

timbck2 (233967) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534111)

That's not what the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 FAQ [everythingusb.com] seems to imply.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534939)

Firstly the high speed link isn't fiber it's still twisted pair based (though with seperate pairs for each direction)

IIRC the A (what you plug into the computer) has the extra contacts burried at the back of the plug allowing compatibility in both connections. The B does have indeed the extra connections above.

So you can use your superspeed device with your existing computer using the cable that comes with the USB3 device but you can't use the cable that comes with your USB3 device to connect a USB2 device.

The superspeed mini connector appears to be superspeed only, i'm not sure how that interacts with backwards compatibility.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (2, Informative)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533211)

What trap? S800 devices can run at S400 if necessary, just like S400 can run at S100.

True, but you'll need a bilingual cable to plug, say, an S800 external hard drive to a computer that only has S400 ports and vice-versa, meaning you'll have to carry different cables with you depending on the available connectors on the machine you're using. With USB though, all the ports on the machine are USB-A ports, so you just need one single cable.

Please note that I am not taking the mini and micro flavors into consideration was intentional, as both interfaces have miniature versions for portable devices.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (2, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533887)

Please note that I am not taking the mini and micro flavors into consideration was intentional,

Yes, because if you took mini, micro, and B USB connectors into account, you'd have to admit that you need a handful of cables to be able to connect all the various kinds of USB devices too, just like you do for 1394. In practice, I've seen three 1394 connectors: Six pin, four pin, and nine pin. That's one less than the number of USB connectors in regular use.

And I think it's nice to be able to look at a 1394 port and know it's S800/1600/3200 vs. S400/200/100. A lot better than this nonsense of finding out a USB port is USB1 only by seeing how God awful slow the hundred megabyte file you are trying to transfer is going.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (2, Insightful)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534385)

There are different USB cables for different devices, but not for different computers. If I bring my USB harddrive and its cable over to a friend, I know it will fit with his computer, whether he has USB 1.1, 2.0 or 3.0.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29535061)

Also, MOST devices that require the mini/micro USB cables include them.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#29535011)

Yea, those dirty FireWire guys making us use different connectors on everything. (Ignoring miniUSB and the new microUSB connectors and the custom miniature USB connectors found on some cameras)

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

intermodal (534361) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532657)

Clearly you didn't understand my post. I was saying that until it's industry standard to include USB 3.0 on new computers the way 2.0 is now (and it was far from an overnight transition), we will continue seeing USB 2.0 as the highest speed USB ports on most new machines.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533423)

Clearly you didn't understand my post. I was saying that until it's industry standard to include USB 3.0 on new computers the way 2.0 is now (and it was far from an overnight transition), we will continue seeing USB 2.0 as the highest speed USB ports on most new machines.

Hello captain obvious.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532691)

In fact, USB 1.1 speeds are the standard for all USB HIDs. Full Speed USB is mostly obsolete, but Low Speed USB is here to stay, and High Speed USB will probably remain in use for some devices because of the lack of performance gain with 3.0 and the increased cost.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532707)

That's fine. I just don't want to buy a new computer that has some ports that are 2.0 and some that are 3.0, so I have to remember to plug my external hard drive into only one specific port, and my mouse into one of the other ones. That'd be a horrendous pain in the ass, and is what the parent was alluding do. Lots of machines have 1.1 only ports as well as only one or two of their ports being 2.0 capable. Hope you remember which is which, otherwise your 1GB of data will copy in an hour instead of seconds.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532809)

I just don't want to buy a new computer that has some ports that are 2.0 and some that are 3.0

Why on earth would anyone sell those? It's not like including USB 3.0 ports is going to break the bank, from what it looks like.

Lots of machines have 1.1 only ports as well as only one or two of their ports being 2.0 capable

Wut? I'm guessing they started with 1.1 only, and someone added a card with USB 2.0 ports. No new computer would have a mixture like that.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

matang (731781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532871)

i agree with the parent. when usb 2.0 came out, lots of machines came with both. they were usually marked with some non-descript color difference that had no reference so unless you natively remembered "purple outline means usb 2.0" you had to guess or wait for windows to tell you the device would work faster in a usb 2.0 port.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532897)

Gah, what a mess. I hope they get it right this time 'round.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532881)

Some computers (mostly whiteboxes and some of the cheaper big names) used USB hubs mounted in a drive bay (before whitebox chassis with integral USB ports went mainstream) and those were often limited to USB 1.1 spec.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

Mix+Master+Nixon (1018716) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533511)

Apple did this. iMac G5s which came with three USB 2 ports shipped with a keyboard containing a two-port USB 1 hub. Don't know how long this was the case, but at least initially that's what they were doing.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533457)

Actually, the Dell GX270 is a case in point. The 6 rear ports are USB2.0, but the 2 front ports are only USB1.1, which sucks as those are the most convenient for plugging in USB Keys.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532731)

That design is okay as a cost-savings measure, but only if you do it right -- rather than have specific ports be slower, make any 1/2 of the ports available at the higher speed. That way when you connect fast equipment it will link at the higher speed, but you don't have to pay for the faster controller for your USB 1.0 flash drive and keyboard.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533585)

A smart controller like that would cost more than simply slapping 2 controllers on there.

And slapping 2 controllers on there gets you more ports! THIS ONE HAS 14 USB PORTS!

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (1)

Cat Panic (1001091) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532765)

IIRC 3.0 ports will be physically different than 2.0, so it should at least be possible to tell the difference just by looking at them
OK they may be round the back of the machine but in any case you'll need a visual just to plug something in.

Re:Let's see some all-3.0 computers now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532797)

Dell OptiPlex GX270, made between 2003 and 2004. There were six USB ports on the back and two up front, however, only two of the USB ports were 2.0, and they were in the back.

I got an original 12" PowerBook G4/867 in August 2003 when I started grad school. All USB 1.1, since Apple was, at the time, betting the farm on FireWire. Eight weeks later, my PowerBook is re-released at 1.0 GHz with USB 2.0. Doh!

Let's be glad USB 3.0 is electrically _and physically_ backwards compatible. Apple seems to be killing off FireWire 400 in favor of FireWire 800, sending a lot of us scrambling to monoprice for new cables.

eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (4, Informative)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532361)

"We now can transfer a 5GB movie in just 38 seconds - it's unbelievably fast," said Freecom's managing director, Axel Lucassen. Assuming that USB 3.0 scales proportionately, USB 2.0 would have transferred the same file in six and a half minutes
Ignoring the naive assumption, USB 2 is as fast or faster than the majority of hard drives (which average reads in the 50-60MB/s range). Buying a faster connection technology won't somehow make your hard drive faster.

Though if you really are concerned, we've had the excellent and widely support eSATA for some time, giving you a 1.5Gbps or 3.0Gbps connection, and if your MB supports SATA, then it supports eSATA. For a second hard drive I put it in an external enclosure supporting both USB 2 and eSATA, and normally use eSATA, sacrificing nothing (and all of the SCSI-like features of SATA are enabled and used).

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532509)

Buying a faster connection technology won't somehow make your hard drive faster.

What if you aren't going to your hard drive?

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (4, Insightful)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532595)

What if you aren't going to your hard drive?

The submission is concerned with connecting a hard drive. As mentioned, anyone with a speed issue with transfer speeds could have been using the superior eSATA for some time now: It's inexpensively supported by lots of devices, and exposes the native capabilities of the storage device to the controller. Win/win, a no bleeding edge drivers or poor vendor support.

I'm not down on USB 3, I just think this is a gimmicky way to get some attention for a non-solution. It's cool when all connection technologies get better, so faster ethernet, wireless, bluetooth, USB, etc -- it's all good.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

Bandman (86149) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532811)

My only wish is that eSATA was supported on more servers. Sometimes the best way to transfer data between two places that don't have a lot of bandwidth is sneakernet. USB2 is much better than USB1.1, but eSATA across the board would be great.

USB3 is welcome. It'll probably be forever before it's standard on servers, though.

wire speed vs. practical maximums (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532573)

Ignoring the naive assumption, USB 2 is as fast or faster than the majority of hard drives (which average reads in the 50-60MB/s range). Buying a faster connection technology won't somehow make your hard drive faster.

I'm not going to ignore the blatantly wrong assertion that USB2 can transfer data at a 480Mbit/sec (60MB/sec), because it can't. That's wire speed. Latency (each packet must be acknowledged) and software handling of data kill speed dramatically.

http://www.everythingusb.com/usb2/faq.htm#4

As far as we know, effective rate reaches at 40MBps or 320Mbps for bulk transfer on a USB 2.0 hard drive with no one else is sharing the bus. Flash Drives seem to be catching up too with the some hitting 30MB/s milestone. For all we know, USB interface could become become the bottleneck for flash drives as early as 2008. Additional notes from Alex Esquenet - our engineer friend based in Belgium: "A fast usb host can achieve 40 MBytes/sec. The theorical 60 MB/sec cannot be achieved, because of the margin taken between the sof's (125 us), so if a packet cannot take place before the sof, the packet will be rescheduled after the next sof. On top of that, all the USB transactions are handled by software on the PC. For instance, a USB host on a PCI bus will send or receive the data via the PCI bus; the stack will prepare the next data in memory and receive interrupt from the host."

Watch a linux host some time with 'top' as you transfer a bunch of data to/from a USB2 drive, and prepare to be shocked at how much time is sucked up by the USB driver.

So yes, there is an immediate potential benefit given that many desktop drives can now push 100MB/sec at the end of the platter, and at the inside of the platter, still top USB speeds. Whether or not USB3 solves the clusterfuck of software drivers handling low-level protocol details etc is another matter entirely.

In the meantime, buy a firewire 400 card, or even better, a fw800 card. You can get a 400-to-800 adapter cable for anything that isn't fw800, but it's pretty damn easy to find these days. Even if the data doesn't move much faster, you'll be using far less CPU.

Re:wire speed vs. practical maximums (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532689)

I'm not going to ignore the blatantly wrong assertion that USB2 can transfer data at a 480Mbit/sec (60MB/sec), because it can't.

Clap clap clap.

Only the majority of external hard drives that you can buy right now will give you similar performance whether you use USB 2, firewire, or eSATA. Making a faster interconnect won't do anything for these drives.

People who have performance drives *already* use eSATA (seriously, firewire? Is this 2002? Worse, you then go on to talk about CPU usage, where again the answer is "use eSATA") or SAS.

Re:wire speed vs. practical maximums (4, Informative)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532827)

My very old 120GB drive is already faster with Firewire 400 than with USB 2.0, even on older computers. Just for fun also check the SanDisk firewire CF card readers and their performance vs USB.

USB 2.0 is nice and cheap and compatible. It is also completely crap for file transfers. USB 3.0 seems to solve a lot of the issues that 2.0 has at the cost of additional cables and pins. And that's not just speed, it is also polling and high latency etc.

Re:wire speed vs. practical maximums (1)

Fourier (60719) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534189)

People who have performance drives *already* use eSATA (seriously, firewire? Is this 2002? Worse, you then go on to talk about CPU usage, where again the answer is "use eSATA")

eSATA is a nice technology in general, and certainly looks like the future of commodity high-speed external storage, but I expect that it will take a couple of years before the OS/driver support matures. As evidence: take a random sampling of eSATA host controllers and you'll find a disturbingly small percentage that provide driver hooks to safely unmount the drive. You'll find an even smaller percentage that does this *reliably*.

1394 drivers are pretty mature these days, so one doesn't tend to run into those sorts of issues. 1394b also gets close to 80MB/s in practice (not just in theory); it takes a pretty fast HDD to saturate that kind of bandwidth. I would argue that 1394 is still a pretty good choice in 2009, although it's clearly on the way out.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532617)

Not everyone has an eSATA connection. A USB 3.0 drive can be used slower on a USB 2.0 port.

I figure, plop one of those dual-head WD multi-TB drives in there and you'll easily hit 120MB/sec read/write for large files like game patches or maps.

PC Card/Express Card too slow. . . (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532619)

I was intrigued by the statement in the article about connecting to a laptop via PC Card. From the linked article:

"USB 3.0 boosts the theoretical data throughput of USB storage devices to 4.8Gbit/s from USB 2.0's now rather tardy-sounding 480Mbit/s."

Unfortunately, according to WikiPedia, the ExpressCard standard (which is the latest version of PC Card) tops out at 2.5Gbit/s, which, granted, is a lot better than 480Mbit/s, but still only about 1/2 the max speed defined by the USB 3.0 standard. Sounds to me like the PC Card/ExpressCard bus needs to evolve to keep up (although, honestly, I suppose you can say that, largely, the PC Card slot has become redundant because of USB3/FirewireS3200/eSata; anything faster than those will require you to upgrade your laptop, anyhow, to get a faster PC Card slot, so just upgrade to get a faster USB/Firewire/eSata, and forget about PC Card altogether).

Express Card v2? like pci-e v2 comeing soon? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533023)

Express Card v2? like pci-e v2 comeing soon?

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

Happy Nuclear Death (911893) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532637)

That's what I was thinking. With regular old mechanical hard drives, anything past eSATA is pretty much pointless. I've had plenty of 60-70 MB/s reads from an ordinary SATA II, 7200 rpm external HDD over eSATA. It comes nowhere close to the max theoretical speed of eSATA, about 380 MB/s. Having a faster connection is just pointless, until the hard drives get a lot faster. Mechanical drives are about at their limit now. Once solid-state drives get even faster - and lots cheaper - I could see the need, but not yet.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532639)

Ignoring the naive assumption, USB 2 is as fast or faster than the majority of hard drives (which average reads in the 50-60MB/s range).

USB 2 as fast or faster than most hard drives? What drugs are you on?

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532753)

USB 2 as fast or faster than most hard drives? What drugs are you on?

It is as fast as the shoddy drives that Maxtor and Seagate put in their external enclosures. It is not a limiter for them (and the CPU usage *is* high, and that won't change much with USB 3).

People who have faster drives use eSATA or SAS, which was exactly what I said. For people who don't use them -- well they probably won't notice a difference with 3.0 then.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (4, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532653)

>Ignoring the naive assumption, USB 2 is as fast or faster than the majority of hard drives (which average reads in the 50-60MB/s range). Buying a faster connection technology won't somehow make your hard drive faster.

Absolutely false. USB 2.0 real world speeds are around 30-40mb/sec because of all the overhead. A low end hard drive can easily do 60+ mb/sec and bursts well over 100 mb/sec. USB 2.0 is terrible for hard drives, which is why we have eSata today and need USB 3.0 soon.

Also, your 54mbps wireless g gives you around 20-30mbps not 54.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533717)

Uh.

"USB 2.0 real world speeds are around 30-40mb/sec because of all the overhead. A low end hard drive can easily do 60+ mb/sec and bursts well over 100 mb/sec."

You mean MB.
And a low end hard drive does about 30-40 MB/sec in real world use (not "hey let's benchmark it by transferring a single 50 GB blu ray image"). Bursting to about 80 for an 8 MB cache, 120 for a 16 MB cache.

"Also, your 54mbps wireless g gives you around 20-30mbps not 54."

And here you do mean mbps.

If bits and bytes were tits and dykes we'd all have a confusing, but hot, Christmas.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533867)

Absolutely false. USB 2.0 real world speeds are around 30-40mb/sec because of all the overhead. A low end hard drive can easily do 60+ mb/sec and bursts well over 100 mb/sec. USB 2.0 is terrible for hard drives, which is why we have eSata today and need USB 3.0 soon.

My home server is running on a SheevaPlug, an excellent low-wattage ARM based solid state device. I built my own SSD out of 4x16GB USB keys. For a single key I get about 31MB/s read and 10 MB/s write; not brilliant, but I can work with it.

What's interesting is what happens to the figures when I build a RAID array. For read, the fastest is RAID-0 with two drives, at 33MB/s. Adding more drives makes the speed go down. It's even weirder for write: fastest is RAID-4 with three drives, at 13MB/s. With four drives? 3MB/s!

All I can assume is that the complex RAID arrangements involve so many concurrent read and writes that it's hitting some fundamental limit as to the number of transactions you can do over USB. (A single RAID-5 block write involves reading every block on the stripe and then writing every block on the stripe, IIRC.) So a simpler arrangement beats what would you'd expect to be the most efficient arrangment.

I'm just sorry the SheevaPlug doesn't have an eSATA port --- that would have solved all my problems.

The USB CPU overhead on the SheevaPlug, by the way, appears to be negligable.

Who Cares About Harddrives? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532659)

I just want to know if I can use it to attach my computer to my toaster yet.....

Re:Who Cares About Harddrives? (2, Funny)

Nick Number (447026) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532789)

You must be behind the times. I mean, I've never seen a toaster that didn't come equipped with FireWire.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532755)

Yes, but if you're routinely playing with 5GB movie files, you probably have a fast disk drive.

Besides, there's more to "speed" than peak throughput. I know digital movie wonks who use firewire because (they claim) USB 2.0 isn't as fast for sustained throughput.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (3, Informative)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533655)

Two points-

USB 2.0's theoretical speed may be 480 Mbit/sec but I've never seen maintained transfer speeds above 30 MB/sec (240 Mbit). Usually I get between 20-25 MB/sec in real-world usage. On HD Tune, I get speeds of 30-32 MB/sec with USB and 100-110 MB/sec (800-880 Mbit/sec) over eSATA on the same 1 TB drive. Thus, USB 2.0 at best reaches half of it's theoretical speed.

At best USB 3.0 will offer speeds equivalent to eSATA.eSATA has been available for years and almost every mid to high-end motherboard now comes with an eSATA port. Furthermore, an Expresscard two-port eSATA card can be purchased for $40 on Newegg. Thus, USB 3.0 will only be useful when computers with USB 3.0 ports become standard. If you have to purchase a PCI/expresscard expansion card, why not just get an external drive with eSATA? Many drives now come with USB 2.0 + eSATA ports and can be purchased for the same or slightly more than USB only-drives.

Re:eSATA, Weakest Link, etc (1)

jasonwc (939262) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533889)

Oh and my 1 TB drive with USB 2.0 and eSATA ports cost me $80 - $20 MIR. $60 USD = 37 pounds. So, I could have purchased nearly 3 such drives for the price of this USB 3.0 drive. What a bargain!

Interesting... (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532365)

Interesting that they would begin releasing these while Linux is the only OS to support it...Now I'm not up to speed (pun not intended) on USB drivers, but would this have to come with a driver CD for Windows, or will Microsoft be releasing an update in the near future?

Re:Interesting... (3, Informative)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532383)

Or I could RTFA, where this question is answered...

The company is also supplying drivers to make USB 3.0 work with Vista and XP. Windows 7 should have 'native' drivers from not long after launch, or users will hope so. Apple is not yet supported by the XS 3.0.

Re:Interesting... (1)

Lesrahpem (687242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532709)

Nah, it will ship with a USB 3.0 flash drive which contains Windows drivers. Gotta do the shit to them they've been doing to us for years.

Re:Interesting... (2, Insightful)

drizek (1481461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532987)

It will be supported in Windows 7 SE.

The new "MAN" (-1, Offtopic)

fifewiskey (1608023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532405)

"Freecom outs first ever USB 3.0 hard drive
Mac users will just have to wait."

Mac is now being treated like "the Man" while Microsoft is becoming cool again with their ploy to "leak" windows 7 all those months ago. It pays to make people fill l337 and to not create a stereo type of latte sipping bohemian super artists like Apple has.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Mac, I just think it's funny.

Plus you're not super l33t unless you use BSD, or Windows ME...either one.

Re:The new "MAN" (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532455)

here is a little hint...

All those Mac users? They use BSD.

Re:The new "MAN" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533201)

All those Mac users? They use BSD.

Open?

Re:The new "MAN" (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533745)

Starscream: Who disrupts my coronation?
Galvatron: "Coronation", Starscream? This is bad comedy.
Starscream: Megatron? Is that you?
Galvatron: Here's a hint!
[Galvatron transforms and shoots Starscream. Starscream crackles and falls to dust.]
Galvatron: Will anyone else attempt to fill his shoes?
Rumble: What did he say his name was?
Galvatron: Galvatron!

hmmm (4, Funny)

josephorc (1552203) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532415)

I would so much first post, but my usb 1.1 modem is not fast enough!

Re:hmmm (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532669)

Upgrade to a USB 2.0 modem, and you'll be able to transfer that 56K datastream so much, err, faster...

Glad to see that 3.0 is coming out, but with hard drive speeds the way they are I fear that it's like overclocking a CPU used by an office worker. You're just going to have that many more "make idle" cycles per second.

Re:hmmm (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533295)

Glad to see that 3.0 is coming out, but with hard drive speeds the way they are I fear that it's like overclocking a CPU used by an office worker.

Nope. Wrong. It's like widening a one-lane highway to a 4-5 lane superhighway. When you add a hub and several USB devices to the mix, they're sharing the available bandwidth. It's not as though each individual hard drive on that hub will have (480Mbit/sec theoretical - overhead) bandwidth available. Available bandwidth varies depending on driver efficiency (what's the CPU utilization), chipset design (does it do DMA?), and bandwidth other devices on that bus are sucking up. Also, don't forget to factor in error correction for your crappy-but-expensive "Monster Cable" brand USB cables.

Re:hmmm (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533891)

I once used gparted to move a 500MB partition on an external hard drive by a small amount. I'd forgotten that the drive was plugged in via the USB1 connection rather than the Firewire connection.

It took all frigging day.

SuperSpeed? (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532523)

So is SuperSpeed USB 3.0 going to be faster than FullSpeed USB 3.0? And where does ExtremeSpeed USB 3.0 fit in? Is that the one that'll run at 11Mbps?

Re:SuperSpeed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532561)

Is that the one that'll run at 11Mbps?

No, you're thinking of LudicrousSpeed USB 3.0.

Re:SuperSpeed? (2, Funny)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532631)

No, that one runs at PlaidMBPS.

Re:SuperSpeed? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532643)

Fullspeed runs 12mbit. LowSpeed(Mouse, keyboard, etc.) runs 1.5mbit. HiSpeed runs 480mbit. SuperSpeed runs 5.0gbit.

You joke about ExtremeSpeed, but it's actually possible USB 4.0 will be called that.

Re:SuperSpeed? (4, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532767)

And of course USB 5.0 will be called LudicrousSpeed.

Re:SuperSpeed? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533319)

When will USB go plaid?

Re:SuperSpeed? (1)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532787)

Incorrect. High Speed runs at 400mbit according to the USB 2.0 spec.

Re:SuperSpeed? (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533781)

Incorrect.

Directly from USB.org, link: here [usb.org]

Hi-Speed USB extends the speed of the connection from 12 Mbps on Original USB up to 480 Mbps on Hi-Speed USB, providing an attachment point for next-generation peripherals which complement higher performance PCs and user applications.

Re:SuperSpeed? (1)

dotgain (630123) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534479)

It must have an FoS of 1.2 then

Price premium for bleeding edge (4, Insightful)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532525)

The drive may not cost the earth, but that's still around 50% more than you'd pay for a 1TB external drive with a USB 2.0 interface.

Just sayin'

Re:Price premium for bleeding edge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532799)

Well, earth is pretty cheap nowadays all you need is to bend.

Re:Price premium for bleeding edge (5, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533171)

The drive may not cost the earth, but that's still around 50% more than you'd pay for a 1TB external drive with a USB 2.0 interface.

Just sayin'

The first one out has a premium price. Faces on stun.

Bah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29532533)

USB 2.0 will hardly be obsolete any time soon, seeing that the standard is (thankfully) backwards compatible.

I still have USB 1.0 devices. And USB 1.0 ports!

Nice but not a game changer... (2, Insightful)

rcolbert (1631881) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532597)

USB serves well as a general purpose interface for a multitude of peripherals. The new transfer rates of USB 3.0 are a nice upgrade overall, and will likely result in some very nice new product capabilities over time. However, in consumer storage USB will likely remain a distant second to SATA-based interfaces, even with the speed boost. USB is nice for portable devices and external, removable drives. I'm hopeful this type of use case is somewhat on the decline. The barrier IMO is lack of options for networked storage in the home that is both cost effective and performs well. I can't imagine USB drives replacing internal storage anytime soon. And, as linked-to in this article, SATA isn't sitting still either and the SATA 3.0 specification is faster still than USB 3.0. In all cases, it seems there is a continuing need for the drives themselves to keep pace with the interfaces. I can't help but think we're close to the end of the line for rotating, magnetic media.

Re:Nice but not a game changer... (1)

careysub (976506) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532999)

...I can't help but think we're close to the end of the line for rotating, magnetic media.

Not that close, yet. Using patterned media and/or thermal assisted recording data densities can rise another 100-fold to 1000-fold (they say - this takes bit density down to the nanometer range).

I've wondered whether scanning tunneling microscope (STM) technology might provide an ultimate density limit for spinning media drives.

SSD technology is coming up fast, but hard disks still have a way to go.

Corrected Summary (4, Funny)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532623)

"After 8 years of being a White Elephant, the USB 2.0 standard has begun its long-deserved journey into obsolescence. Dutch storage company Freecom has announced the first mainstream storage product based on 'SuperSpeed' USB 3.0. Sheep will be interested to hear that the new external Hard Drive XS 3.0 doesn't cost the earth at £99 (approx $160) for a 1TB drive, even though that excludes the £22.99 for a desktop PCI-bus controller necessary to drive up profit margins. Laptop users can pair it with a £25.99 plug-in PC Card to achieve the same effect. Subtle incompatibilities between manufactures, who will once again just ship the first implementation that almost works, will drive down the usefulness of USB 3.0, providing an excellent excuse for USB 4.0."

Seriously, has anyone gotten anywhere near USB 2.0's promised speed? Firewire would have been officially dead years ago if the claims of USB 2.0 were true.

Re:Corrected Summary (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532783)

My understanding is that while USB2 is theoretically faster, when it's going that fast it's also usually more of a strain on your system's CPU. As such people doing very CPU-and-IO-intensive operations (mixing twenty-some-odd channels of digital audio with some effects, for instance) may be better served with FireWire audio capture devices.

I don't do anything intense enough to saturate my system like that, so personally, I don't care, but there you go.

Re:Corrected Summary (1)

pla (258480) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533205)

Firewire would have been officially dead years ago if the claims of USB 2.0 were true.

Firewire did die years ago, despite the by-no-means-insignificant shortcomings of USB2.

Yes, I have a number of devices around the house with firewire ports... Two PCs, a laptop, an external HDD, my phone, a digital camcorder... I even have a cable or two by which I could connect them. But everything[*] I might ever want to connect to my computer has a USB port, and one hydra-ended connector means I never need to search for a cable.

As for speed, comparable. CPU overhead, comparable (FW fans will defend it as having a lower overhead, but that holds true only if you don't mind uncorrected packet loss... Great for streaming audio/video, deplorable for any form of reliable data transfer such as an HDD).


* - The one exception to the above, the digital camcorder I mentioned only supports firewire for video out. And it doesn't support error correction. Let me tell you, trying to get artifact-free video off that thing makes a root canal sound fun. Best way I found, dump it (at least) twice, scan for broken packets, and then (manually) splice together unbroken runs from the two dumps. Serious PITA - Thanks for yet another piece of crap, Sony.

Re:Corrected Summary (1)

slyborg (524607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533937)

Sigh. PC guys.

Firewire remains a firm part of the Mac environment. Apple has recently started to de-emphasize it, in part because things like USB 3.0 are coming, and are "good enough", not to mention much cheaper. The original iPod had Firewire, for example, but quickly went to USB once USB 2.0 widely deployed.

So I also wrote Firewire drivers once upon a time, and know a little bit about it. The uncorrected data stream you are talking about is the isochronous transfer mode of Firewire, that isn't used for storage devices, because as you observe, that would be unusable for a storage device. You don't have to use that for a camera, either, by the way, it was intended for applications like live camera feeds that can accept lossy output.

Finally, real-world throughput, at least with disks? FW400 > USB2, almost always on the Mac. Could be drivers, could be chipsets, but despite the theoretically lower raw bit speed, Firewire is always faster for bulk transfer. And FW800 beats USB2 like Tyson on Glass Jaw Joe.

So I would just as soon have a single common interface to simplify everyone's life, and I for one welcome our new USB3 overlord if it gives me decent throughput.

Re:Corrected Summary (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534067)

Thanks for yet another piece of crap, Sony.

In many years of programming firewire devices (cameras), I've found Sony's firewire devices to be basically awful. Packet loss out the wazoo.

BUT, I've found the same thing for almost every on-board firewire controller I've used. For some reason, they will consistently lose packets, while a $10 PCI card controller will work flawlessly.

By the way, buy Agere. Via sucks, because they changed the chip specs on their controller without changing the chip number.

Re:Corrected Summary (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534859)

It seems like you should be able to dump it three times, and automatically use the two that are the same (perhaps not even checking the third most of the time).

Basically, you are currently using a bratwurst solution, when what you really want is the full burrito.

speed and cpu load next to a firewire / e-sata dis (2, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532781)

speed and cpu load next to a firewire / e-sata disk?

I think that the they are faster with less cpu load.

Backwards with 1.1 ? (1)

Lawand (1345185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29532955)

Is USB 3.0 backwards compatible with USB 1.1 ?

38 seconds? (1)

adamdrayer (1006631) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533273)

How does 480Mbit/Sec translates to 5GB in 38 seconds? 480Mbits is 60MB/sec. It should take like 1 minute 25, no? and that's with no overhead, and assuming the devices read/write that fast and there is no disk queueing. Or am I missing something?

Re:38 seconds? (3, Informative)

Laptopdude (1240858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533495)

You're confusing the different specs. USB 2.0 theoretically runs at 480Mb/s, while USB 3.0 theoretically runs at 4.8Gb/s. So at peak speed (4.8Gb/s = 0.6GB/s), you would transfer 5GB in just over 8 seconds. So it seems the estimate of 38 seconds is based on real-world speed, not theoretical. 5 GB in 38 seconds would translate into just over 1Gb/s.

Re:38 seconds? (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 4 years ago | (#29533647)

Or am I missing something?

yes

CPU usage of USB 3.0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533847)

I know we all have so many cores that we don't know what to do with them, but does anyone know the CPU usage of USB 3.0?

Perhaps I've missed something recently, my CPU tends to run more when transferring to/from USB. Since my initial tests I've gone with FireWire whenever possible for external storage (not hard since I mostly have Apple stuff).

Anyone if the USB chip sets / driver are supposed to be looking at this in 3.0?

What about price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29533967)

How much higher will the price for devices, host controllers and cables be compared to USB 2.0, once volumes are large? The main reason USB 2.0 is more common than FireWire is that it's cheaper, especially on the device side but I think also on the computer side and the cables. With the four extra connectors and wires, I suspect manufacturing costs will be higher. How about patent licensing and the control chips?

£22.99 for desktop PCI-bus controller what (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29534295)

I never even wanted USB1.1, there were and are better technologies (such as networking or firewire). USB2 addressed the speed issue somewhat, but has so much overhead that the supposed faster usb2 has less throughput than firewire 400. Now we get another USB standard that no user really wanted. (The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them).

But the article mentioned the need for an extra £22.99 controller to make a desktop computer use this drive as intended. I can't help wondering what additional cost beyond this there is for most Windows users, like an expensive "upgrade" to Windows 7? After all, will XP even support this thing, and if so what level of service pack must you infest your system with? Win98 users had to move to XP to use USB2. Most Windows owners even needed to upgrade their OS when USB1.1 came out to use it, is this any different? It seems to me that a high speed networked drive would be a far better choice for most users.

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