Saturday, April 19, 2014

Holding on to eSATA

Thunder T11 drive

I did have a courageous vision of moving from eSATA to Apple/ Intel Thunderbolt as my prefered external storage interface.

Sadly,  as I previously predicted for Thunderbolt; besides showing some promise, has gone precisely nowhere in the the consumer market.

To me it is like conversations I have with enthusiastic parents with their infant child.  Look how intelligent she is.  She going to be the fastest, bravest, most brainy ....  but for now she can only hold a spoon.

Back to Thunderbolt:

  • At launch, dearth of Technical specs or Silicon for Integrators to get their teeth into
  • Before Thunderbolt is established Thunderbolt II launched.  Anybody leading edge enough to have embraced the technology is now obsolete!
  • Adoption by some in the PC community, but not many. Still an Apple and hence niche interface
  • Precious few Peripheral Manufacturers support Thunderbolt, leading to poor choice and inflated prices   (does anybody remember Firewire!!)
  • In 2012 I wrote about waiting for decent Thunderbolt peripherals.  Now I've basically given up hope.

Of course eSATA is not perfect either:

  • USB3 has stolen eSATA's glory so laptops and other peripherals don't have this interface much anymore
  • Speed still limited to 3Gbps  (384MB/second ).  Until recently not hard disk or SSD could saturate this bandwidth.  Today faster SSD and processors make this a possibility.

(example from my laptop showing speed in excess of 3Gbps)

So in fact I am still left holding the eSATA baby.

eSATA key  (into Motherboard)

The Kingspec 64GB key has a dual USB and eSATA interface and on the latter as the above tests show, it is still pretty competitive.

eSATA disk enclosure

My Edgestore DAS401 disk enclosure is now a vintage 4 years old.   I discussed it in detail here (in 2009!)

The actual sustained write speed is neither 30MB/sec from HdTune , not the 130M/sec shown by syncback.  It is more usually around the 80MB/second mark.


In retrospect reading the Synology backup to USB/ eSATA tutorial would not really have helped.  

I did found out in practice that plugging in my above eSata key crashed the Synology.  Restart with key in place?

No good. Seems like the eSATA key does not present itself in quite the same way as a hard disk.  Hmm.

In summary.  I'm still holding onto my outdated eSATA key and disk tower until a convincing USB3 key and storage tower replacement arrives.     Please can it be both functional and beautiful!