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Old April 19th, 2003, 01:36 PM   #1
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Firewire vs USB 2.0

Hey guys and gals, have a question. On paper USB2 is faster than firewire, but does it really travel that fast? And is it faster? I just bought a Storix Fusion Hdd and it kicks ass. I find my self using the USB more because thats what most of the computers at school have on them. It does use both usb 2 and firewire. My concern is that if usb2 is that much faster and thats what I find more common, that I should take it back and get the one thats just straight usb 2. It's about $50 cheaper. What do you think?
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Old April 19th, 2003, 04:13 PM   #2
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Bad idea, FireWire is 400mbs and USB 2 is in theory 490mbs. But most computers never even come close to that speed. FireWire 800 is available (800mbs and backwards compatible) and is forward compatible to speeds of 3200mbs. FireWire insures maximum compatibility and the most room for future growth. You can take a FireWire drive to almost any Post House or Duplication/Replication company and they can access your drive. I know of very few companies supporting USB 2 yet.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 05:09 PM   #3
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Jeff, sorry bud, but I think you have mistaken. 400 Mb/s is the rating of Firewire and USB 2.0 is 480 Mb/s this is not however where you made your mistake. When you said that most computers do come that close is where you have errored and when you stated that there are very few companies supporting USB 2.0.

First of all data rates for both are in Mega bits per second. IDE is measured in MegaBytes per second. I think you may be confusing the two units of measurement. Remember there are 8 bits in a Byte. So 480 Mb(megabits) per second is 60 MB/s which is almost UDMA 2 or IDE Ultra DMA66. So, since many computers are atleast on UDMA3 100 MB/s now a days, most computers can easily achieve those speeds and faster.

Maybe in the Video or media sense of the world Firewire is largely supported, but the rest of the world is actually the opposite. USB 2.0 is a cheaper standard and a better knwon standard that's why you see it in every motherboard created in the last year or so. Firewire is almost always an option or standard in the more expensive motherboards.

Clint,

If you are looking to connect the drive to any of your gear (video or media related) then you will need the firewire connectivity. If you are going to use the drive to transport data from one computer to another and the other computer will always have a firewire port, then yes you will need firewire. Firewire has two advantages so far, It is not a huge CPU hog like USB so 2.0 480 may still be slower than IEEE 1394 400, depending on CPU loop time. Secondly, in Media it is the top dog.

But USB is usually cheaper, cables, cards, equipment etc. Easier to find, Best Buy, Compusa, etc. Will work with plenty more peripherals, Digital still cameras, readers, scanners, printers, monitors, game controller, etc. Has a faster burst mode rate.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 05:50 PM   #4
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Thanks alot guys, big help. I think I will stick with the one I have that uses both firewire and usb 2.0. I looked back and it's only a $30 diffrenece. Might as well have both just in case.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 09:35 PM   #5
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Garret, you're talking about theoretical limits. Ones that have never been achieved by most desktop PCs. Even with ATA 100, it was rare for actual througput to exceed 25Megabytes per second.
The Harddrives simply couln't move data any faster.
Only expensive RAID systems come close to max throughput.
Even the new serial ATA drives won't come anywhere near the 155 Megabyte potential. The new 10K drives from WD will make a big step though.

The potential problem with USB is that it usually requires more CPU overhead than firewire. Plus 15 percent of it's throughput is taken up with communications overhead. Latencies are higher also (If you plan on doning Audio work thats important).

Not that USB 2 is bad, just check your cpu usage between firewire and USB. USB2 is great for fast external DVD burners, since you are not using them constantly.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 11:09 PM   #6
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I couldn't agree with you more Joe and as I said both technologies are great but USB is not uncommon, but maybe I misread his post but he was commenting that most computers don't reach that potential, I have sandra Drive Tach results pegging my UDMA 133 drives up to 60 MB/s in burst and sometimes even kissing the 100's during burst. These are maxiumum speeds emphasize on the maximum part. I do a lot of database indexing and I can tell you I peg those burst rates, often. Maxiumum throughput of my DDR Nforce2 system is 6.4GB/s in Memory, it will be logical to assume that HDD's will at least burst at 10% of that.
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Old April 19th, 2003, 11:33 PM   #7
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Burst rates aren't of much use in video. Try sustained read and writes of very large files (5 gig, 10 gig). Large files on fragmented drives (typical usage of most users) can prove troublesome and even dropped frames.

I think you missed the point. I was referring to video companies, post house etc. supporting USB 2, not computer companies. It wouldn't do much good to have peripherals with no hardware support. I was sloppy in my use of the wrong abbreviation for bits and bytes. Believe me I know the difference. But thank you for the correction.
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Old April 20th, 2003, 12:42 AM   #8
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The real difference between USB 2.0 and FireWire is what they were designed for. Basically, the problem with USB drives are that there is a much higher overhead in the communication part of the bandwidth and any slower devices on your USB controller slows EVERYTHING down, so you never reach anywhere near the theorhetical 480. FireWire never reaches the theorhetical 400, but is MUCH closer. A good comparison is an old test run on the site BareFeats: http://www.barefeats.com/fire26.html

In general, the USB 2.0 was about 30%-50% slower than the FireWire on the same drive. USB was never designed for high bandwidth. It is perfect for mice, keyboards, printers, and low end cameras and scanners, but for high bandwidth things like CD Burners and Hard Drives the restrictions of the protocol hamper it.
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Old April 21st, 2003, 12:12 AM   #9
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I guess I did Jeff, I forgot the main foucs was on the media end of the specturm, sorry. Mark, that's exactly wha tI said, I think :)
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Old April 22nd, 2003, 08:40 AM   #10
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I've always heard that USB 2.0 is more or less for peripherals like Mark has suggested.
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