Introduction Hard drive enclosures have been around for quite a while now and companies are coming out with newer and sleeker looking designs all the time. The competition is quite fierce so to keep ahead of one another we see newer technologies being incorporated into these small devices. One of the hottest talks in the town right now when talking about external enclosures is eSATA capability.If you haven’t been following the technological developments lately eSATA (External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) is an external interface for SATA technology. Internal SATA drives have pretty much completely taken over the old ATA drives, yet until eSATA standard came out external hard drive enclosure manufactures were unable to take advantage of the benefits SATA drives offered as all external drives were limited to USB connectivity. With eSATA coming out we have seen an explosion of these external enclosures coming out with eSATA capability. The main advantage of eSATA is its speed and the chart below pretty much sums it all up.
eSATA II which is the newest eSATA standard is just over 6 times the speed of standard USB 2.0. This is extremely impressive and the characteristics of eSATA makes it detect external drives same as an internal drive. And due to the increased speeds on offer, you will not see any difference in speeds from internal hard drives as they operate almost at the same speeds.An interesting feature eSATA also offers is the port multiplier. This allows a single eSATA connector to be used to connect an external eSATA enclosure that is capable of having multiple drives in an array. There are few manufactures coming out with such enclosures but they are not that wide spread as yet. Await our review on one of these devices however in a few weeks time.External hard drive enclosures are designed primarily with portability in mind, so if you’re a laptop user you must wonder how you can take advantage of this eSATA standard. This is where Apiotek’s DUAL eSATA II with RAID Express Card Adapter comes into play. At present PC manufactures don’t provide native support to eSATA so you need to get an external adapter to connect to an eSATA device.What makes Apiotek’s DUAL eSATA II with RAID Express Card Adapter quite interesting is due to its ability to connect up to two eSATA hard drive enclosures at the same time. On top of that it also supports RAID 0, RAID 1 or JBOD RAID making it quite a unique device in the market right now.
Opening the case you’re offered with a User manual, Driver CD and of course the card itself. Before we installed the card we first read through the installation manual which gives a good explanation on how to perform the installation either on a new install or an existing installation of windows.
Installation of the DUAL eSATA II card was pretty straight forward. Its’ just a matter of plugging it into the express card slot on the Laptop and installing the driver CD. Windows automatically detects it as a RAID controller and puts it in the appropriate location.
If you’re installing Windows on a new Fresh installation a driver is supplied which needs to be copied to a floppy disk so that you can install the card during the initial installation stage.
The Card is based on the Silicon Image SiI3132 chipset and it supports RAID0, RAID1 and Soft RAID 5 (PC/Windows Only). There are heaps of documentation available on these types of RAID types, so if you’re not familiar with what type to use, read up on them before you configure the system. The manual provided also gives a brief description about these RAID types and guides you through the total process of setting up the whole RAID system. So if you’re completely new to this, you can get things running in a matter of minutes.
Time to see how APIOTEK’s DUAL eSATA II card performs.
We used IOMeter and HD-Tach for testing performance. All tests were done using eSATA as well as USB for comparisons. Tests were done on two 250GB Seagate SATA drives and two eSATA supporting hard drive enclosures. We will show change in speeds between eSATA and USB.
100% sequential Reads - 64K Transfer request size (0% Random)
95% sequential Reads - 64K Transfer request size (5% Random)
80% sequential Reads - 64K Transfer request size (20% Random)
Now we look at Random reads:
100% Random Reads - 64K Transfer request size (0% Sequential)
Now we look at write performance:
100% Sequential Writes - 64K Transfer request size (0% Random)
95% Sequential Writes - 64K Transfer request size (5% Random)
80% Sequential Writes - 64K Transfer request size (20% Random)