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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
Sony PMW-300, PXW-X200, PXW-X180 (back to EX3 & EX1) recording to SxS flash memory.


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Old July 24th, 2008, 05:41 PM   #1
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Desktop PC ExpressCard Drive Solutions

Does anyone have some suggestions for desktop PC ExpressCard drive solutions that are non-USB based?

Something like this:
http://www.synchrotech.com/products-...-drive_01.html

but ideally that fits in a 3.5" bay.

EDIT: This question opened up a few new things to me re: the ExpressCard specs in general. I was unaware that the ExpressCards themselves are either USB-2.0 or PCI-Express based and theoretically capable of 2.5Gb/s. SxS cards are ExpressCards that are PCI-Express based and are theoretically limited to 800Mb/s transfers. HOWEVER, the Sony external ExpressCard reader itself (SBACUS-10) is USB based therefore that limits transfer speeds back to USB's theoretical max of 480Mb/s.

BUT! It appears all the latest notebooks like MacBook Pros have ExpressCard drives that can read the SxS cards natively, PCI-Express. Therefore, you do get the benefit of the increased speed over USB.

FINALLY! It seems most desktop PC motherboards do not support any reading of PCI-Express based ExpressCards natively.

Phew!

Can someone confirm my understanding of all this?




Thanks,

SG
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Old July 24th, 2008, 06:34 PM   #2
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here is another one http://www.addonics.com/products/hos...ler/adpexc.asp
and one that mounts in a 3.5" bay from the same site you listed http://www.synchrotech.com/products-...-drive_03.html

has anyone ever benchmarked an SxS card? if I had one I would definitely do it. Maybe see if different types of expresscard connections had different performance? I'd be interested to see how they perform in an ideal situation, and see if the 800Mbps spec means anything. Where does that come from anyway? pci-e spec is 250MBps or 2.5Gbps...
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Old July 24th, 2008, 07:11 PM   #3
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Can't help with the benchmarking, but you don't have to buy the latest macbook pro to get expresscard either.

My HP notebook dv9000 pavilion is about a year old and it came with one back then.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 08:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Roper View Post
Can't help with the benchmarking, but you don't have to buy the latest macbook pro to get expresscard either.

My HP notebook dv9000 pavilion is about a year old and it came with one back then.
Actually my entry level Dell Inspiron 1300 was among the first notebooks to get it - way back in December 2005.

SG
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Old July 24th, 2008, 09:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noah Yuan-Vogel View Post
here is another one http://www.addonics.com/products/hos...ler/adpexc.asp
and one that mounts in a 3.5" bay from the same site you listed http://www.synchrotech.com/products-...-drive_03.html

has anyone ever benchmarked an SxS card? if I had one I would definitely do it. Maybe see if different types of expresscard connections had different performance? I'd be interested to see how they perform in an ideal situation, and see if the 800Mbps spec means anything. Where does that come from anyway? pci-e spec is 250MBps or 2.5Gbps...
ExpressCard (PCI-Express Mode) is 2.5Gb/s
ExpressCard (USB Mode) is 480Mb/s

See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExpressCard


Sony/Sandisk SxS Card is 800Mb/s

See here: http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Pr...6BE/index.html


The easiest way I can think of to benchmark in WinXP is to connect your ExpressCard notebook to a Gigabit network drive. Then start copying over files to it from a loaded SxS card, bring up the Windows Task Manager, Click the Networking Tab, Click View, Click "Select Columns", Check off "Bytes Sent Interval". This should give you the MegaBYTES/second speed - multiply by 8 obviously for the MegaBITS/second speed.

Remember...

MB = Megabyte
Mb = Megabit
GB = Gigabyte
Gb = Gigabit


SG
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Old July 24th, 2008, 10:25 PM   #6
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To use an internal (non USB based) ExpressCard reader, you will need to have a newer computer that has an open PCI Express (PCIe) slot. Such readers will NOT work with a standard PCI slot.

On the plus side, most newer laptop come with an ExpressCard 34/54 slot which will work with the SxS cards, as they are PCIe based. You will need the Sony SxS driver installed to be able to access the cards, but it does work.

When I got my EX1, I too looked at the option, especially as the direct EX1 transfer using USB was just not a viable option. I ended up getting an Acer laptop for $450 (loaded).

Using the ExcpressCard slot on the Acer is quite fast and painless when transfering footage to my hard drive.
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Old July 24th, 2008, 10:43 PM   #7
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I just got one like this from ebay, still on the way, I'm sure it'll work, according to specs up to 2.5 gb/s data transfer rate .
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Old July 24th, 2008, 10:49 PM   #8
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For the record - I started the other thread discussing the HP Mini-Note 2133 PC which is a great bit-bucket for the EX1 camera. It not only has an ExpressCard slot but also a 7200rpm 160GB hard drive. That combination makes for a blazing quick SxS card offloader solution. I timed it to to be about 3mins for a full 8GB card. Not bad for $699 and it's tiny!

RE: Desktop ExpressCard drive solutions - it really doesn't look there are any reasonable solutions given the unproven motherboard support.

SG
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Old July 24th, 2008, 10:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Buba Kastorski View Post
I just got one like this from ebay, still on the way, I'm sure it'll work, according to specs up to 2.5 gb/s data transfer rate .
Keep us posted on your experience with it along with your equipment specs.

SG
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Old July 25th, 2008, 08:34 AM   #10
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Keep us posted on your experience with it along with your equipment specs.

SG
absolutely, as soon as I get it :)
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Old July 25th, 2008, 09:47 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Steve Gibbons View Post
ExpressCard (PCI-Express Mode) is 2.5Gb/s
ExpressCard (USB Mode) is 480Mb/s

See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExpressCard


Sony/Sandisk SxS Card is 800Mb/s

See here: http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Pr...6BE/index.html
... yes I mentioned those in phrasing the question. Those are not benchmarks. Those specifications do not give anyone much information about practical performance. It is likely that the limiting factor of the system (assuming you connect SxS directly through an expresscard/pci-e bus) is the NAND flash used inside the card and its configuration. I just wonder how the 800Mbps target spec compares to real world benchmarks. These days 800Mbps is fairly fast for an SSD, but unfortunately i fear that SxS is quite a bit slower than that in practical use. obviously this is no big deal when recording video from the camera (25-90Mbps is not much data anyway), but it could make a huge difference when transferring footage for backups and ingest. Offloading 30 min of footage in 1.5minutes wouldnt be a bad way to work :)

USB spec is 480Mbps which would calculate to around 60MBps but in the real world you would be lucky to see it go faster than 35MBps.

I dont really think that copying files from an SxS card to a gigabit network drive would be a good benchmark. The bottleneck would likely be the drive's embedded controller or cpu if it is a standalone drive or the ethernet interface otherwise. Why not just use a standard hard drive benchmarking utility that does direct transfers to RAM? this is much less likely to introduce another bottleneck.

BTW if i recall correctly I ran some benchmarks on P2 cards and seemed to get around 40-50MBps, which isnt bad, but also not that much more than firewire/usb. then again so many people's workflows involve firewire or usb or laptop hard drives each of which would probably be a bottleneck before the P2 card.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 11:15 AM   #12
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I use one of the Synchrotech devices mentioned:

http://www.synchrotech.com/products-...-drive_03.html

Running WindowsXP with a motherboard that doesn't understand PCIe hotswapping. Annoying, but marginally workable. Keep shortcuts to Device Manager and Add Hardware on my desktop.

Smoothest for my combo of motherboard/WinXP is booting with an SxS card in, offload it, then pull card, slot in next, use Device Manager to Uninstall SxS Card driver, use Add Hardware (leaving card in). Offload next card, remove, slot in next, Uninstall driver, use Add Hardware...etc. I have no idea if the same pattern would work with another non-hotswappable PCIe motherboard. Sometimes it just gets royally confused the only way for me to get it to reset is to uninstall the SxS driver, and power down, slot in a card and power back up.

For the most part, I use my laptop that has an express card slot to offload (HP Pavilion dv2000). Cold boot of editing PC, I'll slot in an SxS card and copy so I can get started working, if the 2nd/3rd/etc keep working, great. If not, I use my laptop to offload cards and copy over my LAN. Next PC I build, hot swap PCIe capabilities will be on the list of desirable features for a motherboard ;)

If I try to access the next card before the uninstall/add hardware cycle, it'll read as unformatted (if it registers at that point), and I get a prompt asking if I want to format. Obviously don't want that, so I don't, just mentioning it in case someone else sees something like that and has a moment of anxiety like I did the first time I saw it. Card is fine, data on the card is fine, reader is fine, motherboard freaked because it's not expecting PCIe devices to come and go.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 12:24 PM   #13
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FYI - see my post here re: benchmarks:

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showpost....0&postcount=12
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Old July 31st, 2008, 10:50 AM   #14
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http://www.synchrotech.com/products-...-drive_02.html

this one doesn't work (for the sony SxS) I guess it's USB based :(
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Old August 1st, 2008, 08:10 AM   #15
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I believe it does handle the Sony SxS cards (as well as USB). Please read all their links. The issue they're having has to do apparently with motherboard design. One must reboot or re acquire the hardware each time one changes cards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buba Kastorski View Post
http://www.synchrotech.com/products-...-drive_02.html

this one doesn't work (for the sony SxS) I guess it's USB based :(
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