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Spec Will Cut External Drive Power Cords

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the could-have-used-that-about-24-hours-ago dept.

Data Storage 167

Lucas123 writes "The Serial ATA International Organization just revealed that it is well along the way to finishing a specification that would remove separate power cords to external SATA drives or optical disk drives, allowing them to draw power from the host system. The resulting new cable, being called Power Over eSATA, will be compatible with the existing eSATA connector and support the current maximum interface transfer rate of 3Gb/s. The SATA organization expects the new cables to be released later this year to drive makers."

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167 comments

Cables (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081972)

I wish they'd do something about this piss-poor connectors. I've had a number of them fail and had to junk them because they do not make a good solid connection, nothing prevents vibration from letting them slip.

Re:Cables (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22081996)

Maybe you are not properly placing your vibrator?

Re:Cables (1, Flamebait)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082058)

GOSH! they might even invent... Firewire! Who'da think it.

Re:Cables (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082456)

Firewire is more expensive and a non-native interface. FW800 is the closest to eSATA in performance, and even then, it's more expensive and slower.

Re:Cables (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082588)

and a non-native interface
Every single interface since IDE and SCSI have been non-native. That's what Integrated Drive Electronics means. The controller no longer sends native commands like 'move disk head' and 'read bytes' it sends abstract commands like 'read block 1406.' Your on disk controller translates these in to native commands. It is no harder to build a device that accepts FireWire commands directly and translates them in to native commands than it is to build one that understands SCSI or SATA. Most current FireWire drives go via SCSI or ATA because there is a much bigger demand for ATA drives than FireWire, but FireWire commands are almost identical to SCSI commands so such a drive could easily be built.

Re:Cables (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083056)

the first Firewire drives built to the 1394 standard were firewire direct. Granted they cost a bucketful! FirewireATA, Firewire SCSI and the like interfaces soon came and cut the price since Seagate et al said a big NO to native Firewire in an industrial way.. Now, my point was: Firewire is easy to use, supplies power, can be daisy chained like SCSI (more then one drive on a port) comes in the 400 and 800 flavors, and I have used it for many years on both PC and Mac.
External SATA strikes me as similar to the REAL reason behind ISA-EISA-MCA-PCI or FPM-EDO-SDRAM-DDR-DDR2-DDR3 that is: Gee WHiz its faster! , and KA-CHING goes the cash register when a form factor requires buying new. I remember when SATA showed up and was OH SO MUCH FASTER then PATA or when Vista was better then XP.

Re:Cables (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082320)

I have to agree with you on this. Even the internal cables feel pretty loose to me and will come off with the slightest tug. Sometimes I find a nice cable and a compatible drive and they'll click together nice and solid, but for the most part they just don't have the holding power I would like. Even if they don't fall off, they're probably the flimsiest connector you're likely to use on an external connection of any sort on your computer these days. I have a few that have metal reinforcement on them, but they are an exception.

Re:Cables (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082452)

I have to agree with you on this. Even the internal cables feel pretty loose to me and will come off with the slightest tug. Sometimes I find a nice cable and a compatible drive and they'll click together nice and solid, but for the most part they just don't have the holding power I would like. Even if they don't fall off, they're probably the flimsiest connector you're likely to use on an external connection of any sort on your computer these days. I have a few that have metal reinforcement on them, but they are an exception.
I hate SATA connectors. A few months ago I replaced two ide hard drives with satas. I pulled out the drive bay, installed the new drives, connected the cables, and then slid the bay back in. When I did that I heard a snap. Pulled it out, and had two snapped sata connenctors. I've never had that problem with IDE. I snapped one off accidentally at work, too. At least NewEgg replaced them.

Re:Cables (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22083082)

Even the internal cables feel pretty loose to me and

That's 'lose' POSATO head and ..!!??! pardon, what? ...
Oh Sorry; never mind.

Re:Cables (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082330)

I agree. Any strain, and they come right out. So I bend the cable over the external drive, and duct tape it to the unit so it doesn't slip.

Re:Cables (3, Informative)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082378)

They also snap off and break! The piece of shit plastic slot on the hard drives, snaps off with ease.

The durability of Sata connectors suck.

Re:Cables (1)

Yo Grark (465041) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082500)

Tell me about it.

Had 3 of them "snap" off of 2 separate motherboards after only a few connect/disconnects.

And before people tell me "it must be you", I had a technician call me and tell me he had to replace the mobo because he broke the remaining one off when he unplugged it to test a new HD.

Granted it was one of the first generation mobo's, but we're talking ASUS boards here, not asrock (and YES I know, god you guys are picky!)

Yo Grark

Should have been in the spec from day 1 (5, Insightful)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22081978)

Seriously -- it's two more pins. Why wasn't the spec designed right in the first place?

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082030)

probably due to concerns over internal power supplies

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (2, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082054)

Because it would require thinking and *gasp* some work.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (4, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082136)

It could have been a political issue in the industry as well. If there was strong opposition to any specific power over SATA spec, it could have held up the spec. Where as, going live with the widely accepted standard, and gaining a foothold, the spec now has the power to determine what the manufacturers should do as opposed to the other way around.

-Rick

no excuse (4, Interesting)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082196)

USB has supported bus power forever. There's a protocol (devices can use up to 100mA without asking, up to 500mA with host device permission) and it works. eSATA, a newer spec, did not learn from this??

Re:no excuse (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082250)

USB has supported bus power forever.

Yes, but only well for small devices. My iPod is supposed to be USB charged, but the trickle feed is useless for it. Apart from a joystick and keyboard I have, I avoid usb powered devices nowadays.

Re:no excuse (1)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082314)

That's ok; USB isn't designed to power heavy loads. 2.5W (5V x 500mA) is enough to spin a hard drive, light up the Num Lock lamp, illuminate an optical mouse, etc. And no one is saying eSATA power should be as limited as USB. I'm just making the point that a protocol for bus power existed, it is a killer feature for an external HD connection scheme, and the designers of eSATA chose to ignore it. Lazy.

Re:no excuse (2, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082448)

That's ok; USB isn't designed to power heavy loads. 2.5W (5V x 500mA) is enough to spin a hard drive

It's enough to spin up a laptop HD, but not enough for the cheaper and higher storage but larger3.5" desktop type drives.

Thus those drives need supplimental power, which is still annoying.

I'd have been happier with a limit around 12 watts, which is enough to power a 7200RPM HD, though you might need a capaciter to limit current draw during peaks.

12W@12V would be 1 Amp, so you'd only need a marginally thicker cable(or two), and you wouldn't be limited to trickle charging quite as many devices, or needing auxillery power sources for as many items.

You might even be able to operate an energy-efficient(if slow) laptop inkjet printer off of that.

Re:no excuse (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082998)

I'd be surpised if this new standard used 12v. Chances are it uses 5v.
12v is considered pretty high to be part of a consumer device.

Re:no excuse (2, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083066)

12W@12V would be 1 Amp, so you'd only need a marginally thicker cable(or two)

Multiply it by 4 for sata and 4-8 for USB, and you would, however, have a noticably thicker motherboard (and/or separate PSU connectors and caps beside the USB and SATA connectors).

It's most likely not the cable that's the problem but the actual electronics that have to support the rated draw of the cable. Or worse, imagine having motherboards that dont support the rated draw and having users calling tech support with 'my computer crashed as I inserted my USB cupwarmer and the keyboard with LCD display and cooling fan at once!!!'.

You'd end up having to have a calculator to figure out what devices you could actually attach to your computer at any one time. Much as I'm loath to say it, I prefer the wallwarts over that.

Re:no excuse (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083840)

My cell phone recharges via USB very well. That said, I have learned that on "power cord optional" USB hubs, the power cord really isn't optional.

Re:no excuse (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082298)

...did not learn from this??
No idea, but a political argument theory holds more water than a "because they're dumb" theory IMO.

-Rick

Re:no excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082584)

Never attribute to malice that which you can attribute to incompetence.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (2, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082566)

I can easily think of actual technical issues on this one.

See, historically, disks have had their power supported by the PSU directly. Now you want to replace IDE and put SATA connectors on the motherboard. That's fine. Then you want the SATA connectors to supply power enough to drive one disk? Ok... Then you want the SATA connectors to supply enough power to drive four disks? That's an 80W or more power bus over the motherboard; motherboard manufacturers had just about gotten over having to add new power connectors for CPU's and partly for PCIe, and now you want them to take the hit for disk power too, and presumably do some engineering for it too, (such as stabilizing the power so your computer doesn't crash as parts of the MB loses power when the disk spins up)?

Call it political or call it technical, but in this case it was probably not just simply adding the connectors that was the problem (you could have gotten around the issue by placing a PSU connector next to any SATA contact, of course, but imagine the bitching about that).

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082208)

Sometimes it's things that have always been done a certain way that are never noticed to need changing.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (2, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082210)

Why wasn't the spec designed right in the first place?
Because most of the time, the people that write these specs, or design this stuff, don't seem to use any products in the real world...

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082256)

From a signal integrity point of view, you want the NOISY power connections to be away from the high speed SATA signal as much as you can.
It might not seem important right now, but it might come back and bite you on inferior cables or when they crank up the rates again.

From a easy of use point of view, it is certainly silly.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (2, Informative)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082390)

Of course proper shielding is necessary, but if you're in a position to design a cable which will support throughput of 3Gb/s, you are in a position to supply power in the same package. In practice, crosstalk from other data cables is a much greater problem than interference on the power supply rail. (Disclaimer: I'm an analog EE; I think about this crap.)

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (2, Interesting)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082284)

Maybe because of the fact that some drives use both 5v and 12v. Or that the 3.3v (does any drive use that yet?) was needed

To be honest, I don't even see if its possible for internal drives 3.5. Most of those drives use upwards of an amp off the 12v, and pushing 12watts down a little sata cable sounds like it would cause interference. Heck, it also means we have to add yet another 12v rail to the motherboard to support the power. It would be nice, however, for it on the eSATA connector. But thats the only time I would say it would be that useful.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082522)

pushing 12watts down a little sata cable sounds like it would cause interference.

It's DC. How could that cause interference?

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082656)

It's DC. How could that cause interference?


During spin up there are fairly significant current spikes, which could I suppose cause some interference.
Of course at that point there isn't any data transfer other than wait for ready from the SATA controller. So it could cause some issues. My question is will this still be hot swappable, which in my view is the main advantage to eSATA.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082898)

it also means we have to add yet another 12v rail to the motherboard to support the power
 
Not only that but any add-on cards for laptops will need a wall wart providing power in to them. Now talk about loose fitting; every USB2 and FW add on PCMCIA card I've had to use has had a miserable loose little socket for device power. I far prefer to use the wall wart that goes straight to the drive. I suspect I'm not the only one adding drives to laptops and this power over the data cable is not going to help there at all.

40% more pins!? ARE YOU CRAZY? (1)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082410)

Why wasn't it in original parallel ATA? 2 more ATA-66 pins would be a mere 2.5% pin count increase, whereas here it is a 40% increase!

Re:40% more pins!? ARE YOU CRAZY? (1)

rrkap (634128) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082704)

It did get included eventually. 2.5" drives use 44pin IDE cables that carry signal and power.

Re:40% more pins!? ARE YOU CRAZY? (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082726)

Well, the Parallel ATA interface typically uses small wires (probably around 24-28 gauge). Do you really think that you can power a whole hard drive over a pair of #24 wires? Nope, not even close. You would either need to use different wires, which would require a custom connector, or you would have to use MULTIPLE wires (probably about 12-20 should be enough. That, however, makes the connector wider, the cable wider, and increases cost for everybody.

Thick wires are cheap, and molex connectors are cheap.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082482)

It's not "just" two pins, definitely not the same size conductor. I think the drives need as much as one amp on 12V and 5V, and it looks like at least four conductors are used to do that.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082564)

That's an awfully simplistic view. A lot of devices use a lot of pins for power and ground, to ensure they can supply enough power. Otherwise if you use 2 you might need to use unusually large wires/pins, which can be awkward. Further, there are noise issues to consider. The power pins can't cause any interference on the data pins.

Re:Should have been in the spec from day 1 (1)

araemo (603185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083380)

Why wasn't the spec designed right in the first place?
That's my gripe with it..

SATA is a great standard, and eSATA is a great idea... but they decided, for secure connections(it seems that even the SATA-io thinks the internal plugs aren't secure enough for external drives), they'd use a different connector. So you have to buy a different kind of cable for eSATA than internal SATA anyways..

But instead of taking the opportunity to add power pins, and allow a full 3.5" drives' worth of power to be drawn from that port, they didn't add any power at all!

Now they're talking about doing PoE-esque negotiation and sending power over pins normally used for other things(Probably extra ground pins?) And the icing on the cake is they're still going to limit it to around 500mA, so it won't be able to power 3.5" disks, only the 2.5" ones that you can power off of USB or firewire just fine. What a waste of a spec.

allowing them to draw power from the host system? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082044)

As opposed to what? The external nuclear reactors we are using now?

Re:allowing them to draw power from the host syste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082060)

Time to polish up on your reading comprehension skills.

You do know what the word "external" means, right?

/anything that gets rid of some wall warts is good in my book

Re:allowing them to draw power from the host syste (0, Redundant)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082150)

Clearly the AC duct taped a power strip to the side of his computer case, thereby making any extra power outlets he uses part of the host machine. Sheer brilliance I tells ya!

Re:allowing them to draw power from the host syste (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082854)

This is actually a damned good idea - why haven't I seen cases with power strips???

Re:allowing them to draw power from the host syste (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22083330)

What's ridiculous is that the original AC got modded "insightful" for his stupidity, whereas you got modded "redundant" for a fairly funny reply.

Re:allowing them to draw power from the host syste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082064)

as opposed to a wall wart, anal wart

Obligatory remark... (0)

mass (65691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082056)

Imagine a beowulf cluster of these things ....

Re:Obligatory remark... (4, Insightful)

krog (25663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082116)

No one obligated you to say something that threadbare and devoid of humor. No one. You did it on your own.

USB? Firewire? (3, Insightful)

snib (911978) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082218)

I guess I don't understand the value of eSATA. I don't see many eSATA drives, and I don't see many eSATA ports on computers or devices. Do we really need to add yet another port to laptops, in addition to the audio in/out, multimedia card, USB, Firewire, VGA, DVI, S-Video, Serial, Ethernet, Modem, etc etc? Wouldn't it make more sense to start eliminating ports and making everything work over USB, or Firewire, or some other spec?

As far as the article, it looks like a neat new development, but I know that you can get power over USB and Firewire. Maybe not enough for an external hard drive (I don't know), but IMHO it makes more sense to upgrade the power capabilities of universal technologies rather than promoting an exclusively hard drive-related format.

Re:USB? Firewire? (4, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082360)

I think the advantage is supposed to be cost and speed. eSATA is faster than USB and Firewire (I think, dunno about the latest Firewire) and requires absolutely _no_ on board logic to work. With this new spec an external eSATA case is literally a metal box with a hole in it, maybe a passthrough connector if they're feeling swanky. They don't even need the transformer anymore. That makes it cheaper than USB and especially firewire.

Re:USB? Firewire? (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082402)

try backing up your data to external 1TB drives through USB2. You'll soon see the importance of ESATA :)

SPEED.

USB is painful for disk transfers!

ESATA is the way.

Re:USB? Firewire? (5, Informative)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082440)

FireWire is a fairly general-purpose specification, designed so that devices that require a fixed (and quite large) amount of bandwidth can be guaranteed it, and designed with device-to-device communication in mind. Its maximum bandwidth is 400Mbps (unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it).

SATA is a storage-device-oriented specification, designed pretty much so that drives can pump data over it as fast as they can read it, with a centralized paradigm and a much higher peak bandwidth at 1.5Gbps (or 3Gbps, but see the note about FW800 above).

Using USB for storage devices is perverted and wrong; it's synchronous, so your practical bandwidth is limited by the length of your cable and the response time of the nodes at either side. On the other hand, a design like that is pretty great for things like user input devices, which is one reason nobody ever talks about making FireWire mice.

So, in summary, SATA is more suitable for disks than FireWire, and USB is dog-slow. Any questions?

-:sigma.SB

Re:USB? Firewire? (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082684)

unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it
FireWire 800 has been around for ages. My old PowerBook (4 years old) and my 'new' MacBook Pro (1 year old) both support it and I have had two external LaCie hard drives for three years which have two FireWire 800 ports which allow drives to be chained together.

The spec has allowed 3200Mb/s over fibre for years but I've not seen any consumer products supporting it. The latest version of the spec (just approved) supports 3200Mb/s over the same cables and connectors as existing FireWire 800 systems.

Re:USB? Firewire? (2, Informative)

waveformwafflehouse (1221950) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083190)

"unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it"

Two Firewire 800 devices that I use every day:

Lacie external drives http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=10922 [lacie.com]

RME Fireface 800 http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_fireface_800.php [rme-audio.de]

While they don't use the full bandwidth individually, it's nice to be able to chain without worrying about audio/video dropouts.

So does coupling power with data restrict the potential to chain SATA devices in the future when the bandwidth out paces the drives?

Re:USB? Firewire? (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083246)

FireWire is a fairly general-purpose specification, designed so that devices that require a fixed (and quite large) amount of bandwidth can be guaranteed it, and designed with device-to-device communication in mind. Its maximum bandwidth is 400Mbps (unless you count FW800, which I will as soon as I see a device that supports it).

One other thing that Firewire has going for it is its power spec, which (when using the full-sized connector) can provide up to 45 W [wikipedia.org]. That compares to only 2.5 W for a (powered) USB port. There are 2.5" external hard drives that you can power through the USB port, but certainly not 3.5" external drives.

For reasons I can't fathom, however, I haven't ever seen an external 3.5" hard drive that can pull its power from Firewire, even though it would only require 12-15 W. Hell, my first iPod synced and recharged over Firewire, why not my external hard drive?

Re:USB? Firewire? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22083658)

It's probably more complex and expensive to optionally draw power from 1394 than to just rely on a separate power supply all the time. As you point out they need the separate power supply when running over USB, which is a must because a large majority of computers (e.g., every one I've ever owned) have no onboard 1394 ports.

Re:USB? Firewire? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083540)

Yeah:
If you are concerned about performance, why aren't you using SCSI? Compared to SCSI, all the are perverted and wrong.

I actually use USB2.0 for my external drive. It was cheap, and I only need it for back up of our pictures. So top speed wasn't a concern.

Re:USB? Firewire? (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083954)

A "native" disk-oriented protocol is necessary for SMART [wikipedia.org], and probably for things like fancy hdparm settings as well.

certain species practically exterminated (-1, Troll)

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(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

MOD PARENT UP!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22083180)

This is terrific. A+, fantastic writing! Highly comprehensible, and enjoyably written as well. I loved the part about the unicorns! Thanks for sharing.

How about for internal drives as well? (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082258)

Is there much of a reason that we couldn't have single power+data connectors for internal HDD / DVD drives as well? Things are better now that IDE cables are less common, but I'd still be happy for a cleaner interior of my cases.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082434)

We do have them. It's just most people aren't willing to pay for it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_Connector_Attachment [wikipedia.org]

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082510)

SATA drives are already the equivalent to SCA, I don't think SCA was commonly done on a cable.

I can already slide a SATA drive into my computer and it plugs right into a back plane, without any cables. I also have an external hard drive enclosure whose drives automatically plug right into a backplane using the SATA power & data connector. eSATA is a little different.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

hey (83763) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082454)

Nice idea. I like it tidy inside my computer as well.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082478)

They take a lot of juice, potentially? Your standard wire going to the molex plugs in use are around 16 gauge, not exactly small. Mostly overkill, but traces are normally designed for fractions of an amp - think about video cards and their auxillery power ports today.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083318)

How would the external drives use any less power than internal? I don't think anyone's expecting these cables to be as thin as internal SATA cables; nor do they expect internal "power over SATA" to not require a beefier unified cable. They just want one simple cable to avoid the clutter.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082580)

Not going to happen. There are certain considerations in external drives. Most won't take a ton of power, they'll be 7200 RPM or something like that. In a case, you see people with 10 and 15k drives that use much more power.

The biggest problem is that what we have works very well. It supplies a few different kinds of power (3.3/5/12v?) so they drive probably doesn't need to step that up or down. Using one power connector the external drive will have to step down the power from the max (12v?) to be able to power it's logic circuits. That wastes energy, space, and components. It's more expensive.

Then there is the circuit board part. Powered SATA means that you have to get the power to the connectors. The more power you want to run (like that needed for 10/15k drives, or CD or DVD writers) would be problematic. The more power you deliver, the larger the trace on the motherboard has to be so it won't burn out. So now you either have large traces running all over the place, or you have to put the ports next to the power supply connector. Or you make a new additional power connector going to that area of the motherboard.

Or you could make a connector that goes in the middle of the cable to supply power on route, instead of from the motherboard. But that would only mess up your case more.

The current specification works very well for internal stuff, I would be amazed if they changed it to provide this kind of thing for even modest internal drives.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082846)

(3.3/5/12v?)
The standard 4-pin molex connector has one 12v (yellow), one 5v (red) and two ground pins. There is no 3.3v pin.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083042)

But a Sata power plug does have a 3.3V pin. A lot of sata hard-disks work without it, but this is either because they were designed for molex power (and may even have a molex socket), or have been designed to step 5V down to 3.3V if they need it and it isn't available.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (2, Interesting)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082756)

Is there much of a reason that we couldn't have single power+data connectors for internal HDD / DVD drives as well?

Nostalgia? The big ol' 4-pin Molex power connectors are practically the only thing inside a PC case that are still the same as they were when IBM first introduced them to the desktop twenty-seven years ago. If we get rid of those, we'll be severing the last remaining connection to the machine's origins.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

British (51765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083904)

If we get rid of those, we'll be severing the last remaining connection to the machine's origins.

Good riddance. Trying to mitigate ribbon IDE cables + daisy-chained power cables was never fun. I just wonder why it took 27 years to do it. Really, I will have no gloating of the PCs of tomorrow having no inherent design flaws with PCs of yesteryear. The less of a rat's nest of cables in a PC, the happier I will be. No more worries of cables getting in the way of fan blades, etc.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082766)

Take a look at modular PSUs. More expensive, but definitely better. You basically plug in whatever cables you want into the PSU.

Re:How about for internal drives as well? (2, Informative)

MrNemesis (587188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083182)

Think of every 12V line going into every hard drive in your machine. Now think of every 12V line having to be routed through the motherboard.

It essentially won't happen because it'll make motherboards much more complicated (read: expensive). That said, power-over-SATA shoudl have been in the e-SATA spec from the beginning, glad I didn't hop on the bandwagon earlier.

lets hope it doesnt draw much power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082324)

i have had USB drives that needed both USB connectors in just to power it up, some PC's are ok with 1 but can you take that chance on a site visit ? power from the host is a good idea as long as the host has enough power to give

bah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082380)

wake me up when we have sata over power

If only they'd thought it out... (1)

ricebowl (999467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082458)

Power Over eSata?

Look at those uppercases, the only acronym/abbreviation they can go for is either POeS (not too great, but better than) POS...

I can only hope it's a meta-commentary, the designers' own reaction to another port and yet-another-acronym...

Clearly (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22082470)

named after Yankee catcher Jorge PoeSATA.

Wha-d-ya-mean "power cable?" (5, Interesting)

DanQuixote (945427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082532)


One of my tech support calls was about 1980, my friend's mom had a computer, and she bought a printer, which she tried to hook up herself, but it wasn't working.

I went over there and quickly spied the problem... the data cable was connected, but there was no power cable hooked up.

She quite innocently and logically asked, "why do I need a separate power cable?"

People don't really give a damn that the power system and the data system are two separate systems. It really is completely reasonable for them to expect a single cable to power as well as communicate.

These folks shouldn't pat themselves on the back for a "new feature", they should try harder next time to close a bug out in something much less than 30 years!

This is a basic usability requirement that people persistantly ignore despite the rat's nests of cables running around all their gear. This is certainly one of the biggest reasons for the popularity of USB!

Re:Wha-d-ya-mean "power cable?" (2, Interesting)

harrkev (623093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082782)

She quite innocently and logically asked, "why do I need a separate power cable?"
Does she also plug her cable feed (or sattelite receiver) into her television and expect it to work without plugging the TV into 120V?

Re:Wha-d-ya-mean "power cable?" (1)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083054)

Maybe she's Amish and doesn't have a TV you insensitive cl- oh wait, printer, right.

Re:Wha-d-ya-mean "power cable?" (3, Insightful)

DanQuixote (945427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083276)


Clearly you are a good engineer, and as every good engineer knows, it's all about trade-offs. If Tesla had his way, there would indeed NOT be a separate power cord for the TV.

Overall historically, we've made pretty good decisions about how to handle power. However, in the last 10 years I have been very disappointed with consumer electronics. Powering a device is a major requirement for anything we design, yet batteries still suck, wall-warts continue to proliferate, mp3 players don't charge via a standard USB port, and I STILL have to plug every last item into it's own special power cord, despite the inconvenience.

<rant>Why is power still an after-thought during product or specification design???!!!</rant>

Re:Wha-d-ya-mean "power cable?" (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083214)

It really is completely reasonable for them to expect a single cable to power as well as communicate.

Should have got her a Coleco Adam. Nothing like a computer that's tied its printer at the hip! ;-)

Re:Wha-d-ya-mean "power cable?" (0, Redundant)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083506)

Did she complain when she needed to plug in her VCR separate from the TV?

Re:Wha-d-ya-mean "power cable?" (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22083588)

I disagree with the "It really is completely reasonable for them to expect a single cable to power as well as communicate" statement in general.

Yes, I'd like to have a peripheral that only requires a single connection (power and data). However, I don't expect my monitor to have a single connection to the PC any time soon. What about my cable box or TV. Great if the cable or dish company can send power over their connections.

Existing power situation with SATA is hilarious (4, Funny)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22082934)

Parallel ATA (A.K.A IDE): Big Parallel data cable with a shitload of pins. 4 pin power cable.

Serial ATA: Serial data cable with just 7 pins. Power cable has twice as many pins!

Did they just move the lines to the power cable? :-)

Re:Existing power situation with SATA is hilarious (3, Informative)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22083530)

7 pins, but just 4 wires going in (unless you got a 3.3V line too which is not necessary on the bulk of SATA drives). The 7 pins make it hot swapable, you can just yank power to a drive, and it doesn't hose the whole thing. I do failure analysis on hard drives all day (its my job), and for me it is about the best part of the SATA spec (since I don't have to reboot machines just to throw a different drive in for testing).
On another note, I'd guess this is also why it took so long to come out with an eSATA power spec that would work, since occasionally it matters whether you pull the SATA cable or the power cable first. Pulling power first is generally the way to go, as sometimes if you pull the SATA cable first the machine will get pissed, and you gotta reboot as your SATA controller will just sit there waiting to hear back from the drive that no longer has a connection.
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