By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-01-16 Print this article Print

We attached the drive to the same 2.8GHz Pentium 4 system weve been using for all our recent storage reviews.
Component Intel D845PEBT2 System (DDR333) Check Prices
CPU 2.8GHz Pentium 4 (533MHz FSB) check prices
Motherboard and Chipset Intel D845PEBT2, Intel 845PE chipset check prices
Memory 512MB Corsair XMS3200 DDR memory (run at DDR333, CAS2, "aggressive" timings) check prices
Graphics Nvidia GeForce4 Ti 4600 (30.82 driver) check prices
DVD-ROM Toshiba SD-1502 check prices
Audio Sound Blaster Audigy Gamer check prices
Ethernet Intel Integrated
Operating System Windows XP Professional, Service Pack 1 installed check prices
Our testing for the USB device only encompassed Winbench 99 2.0 disk tests. We didnt run the applications level benchmarks (Business Winstone 2002 and Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2003), because it would be very unlikely that anyone would use a USB external drive for running applications.
Transfer Rate Tests
These charts really say it all.
Barracuda V ATA Transfer Rate Chart Barracuda Serial ATA Transfer Rate Chart Barracuda ATA in USB enclosure Transfer Rate Chart
The Serial ATA and parallel ATA results roughly follow the same curve. Since both the S-ATA and ATA100 drives support DMA transfers, you get the maximum transfer rate at the outer tracks with their higher sector density, trailing off steadily as the head moves through the inner tracks. The USB drive behave differently, because the transfer rate caps out at about 30MB/sec (240Mbits/sec or about ½ the theoretical maximum speed of 480Mbits/sec for USB 2.0). Thats not slow by any means, but its not the 40MB/sec that the Barracuda can normally pump out over faster connections. If you recall our roundup of large drives, the Barracuda ATA has one of the lower maximum transfer rates around. But you dont get full benefit from very high transfer rates with a USB 2.0 interface. Here are the charts of actual recorded maximum and minimum transfer rates. As you can see, the USB 2.0 drives transfer rate at the beginning tracks is quite a bit slower than the other devices, while being nearly identical at the end.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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