USB 3.0 will turbocharge throughput
speeds for external hard drives, but buyers beware. To get the best out
of the new standard will probably take a SATA 3.0 hard drive.
the news from Freecom (coincidentally recently bought by giant
Verbatim) is to start selling the first every USB external hard drive,
users will be looking forward to a tenfold theoretical boost in
transfer speeds. Except they won't because even with a special add-in
PCI or cardbus card, Freecom's drive can probably at best ramp speeds
by a factor of around 3.5, well below what should be possible.
figures I quite come from Freecom itself, so let's assume they're
optimistic. They also apply to 3.5 inch drives; 2.5 inch drives of the
sort used in portable drives, the maximum extra hop is probably nearer
2-2.5 x at best.
According to Carsten Lenz, the company's R&D
head, it is going to take the new controller architecture of SATA 3.0
to get USB 3.0 to perform. SATA 3.0 hardware is also starting to appear
- Seagate made a similarly big announcement earlier this week - but it
will be a while before it finds its way into regular PCs of the sort
bought by consumers and companies.
USB 3.0, meanwhile, is not a final standard in all respects, with the mini USB connector pinning still to be agreed.
good news is that Lenz did confirm that Freecom's USB 3.0 interface
card will deliver the same speed for any vendor's USB 3.0 drives, not
just Freecom's. That is to say that the drivers will be universal for
storage devices at least.
Lenz agrees with the market consensus that
Microsoft will build in universal USB 3.0 drivers from around the time
of Windows 7's first service pack. Will that leave Apple in the dust?
Probably, it has yet to endorse or exp[lain its stance on USB 3,0 to a
market. Freecom does think it can write drivers for the Apple is only
Apple will create some kind of OS hooks for it to dos so.
The chaps at 1 Infinite Loop need to wake up and see beyond Firewire 800's supposed greatness. USB 3.0 is what Mac users need, and preferably before it becomes embarrassing.