Firewire 400 or ATA/100?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by zen.state, May 30, 2005.

  1. zen.state macrumors 68020


    Mar 13, 2005
    I want to ask if a 7200 rpm drive I have will be faster(in a general way) over ata 100 or firewire 400. I ask because I want to know if I should buy an ata/100 pci card or a firewire hd enclosure.

    thanks in advance.
  2. zach macrumors 65816


    Feb 14, 2003
    You probably won't notice the difference...

    If it's the same price, I'd go for the ATA card. After all, the HD has to interface via ATA first in the enclosure, so the firewire would simply be another limiter.

    Plus, the card gets the harddrive into your machine and out of your way.
  3. Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I just bought 3 firewire 400 enclosures to connect to my mini.
    So ... depends where you are going.
  4. homerjward macrumors 68030


    May 11, 2004
    fig tree
    since you have a g4/500 i'd probably say ata/100 because iirc some of the earlier computers with fw/400 did it a lot slower than for example a new computer or a new fw card. plus like zach said, less clutter.
  5. MrCommunistGen macrumors regular


    Mar 14, 2004
    "Wherever you go, there you are..."
    Technical Rationale

    Just to clarify, firewire enclosures use some sort of ATA (133/100/66) connection internally which is then briged over to the firewire bus (usually via an Oxford911 or 922 chip). For this reason a drive connected via firewire cannot be faster than the same drive over ATA/100. It might be the same speed, probably a bit slower due to latency added by the bridge chip. Plus, Firewire 400 tops out at a theoretical 400Mbits/sec which = 50MBytes/sec (actual bandwidth is a bit less), so the actual bandwidth IS less than ATA/100.

    Of course all of this means relatively little since even the newest and fastest 7200RPM drives rarely achieve SUSTAINED transfers higher than 50MBytes/sec.

    Therefore, in terms of drive performance, the differences are negligable. What it really comes down to is: do you want an external or internal drive?

  6. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    I have benchmarked drives, and over FireWire 400 they are about 7% slower than ATA100 in a G4 1.25DP. But copies from an ATA100 to Firewire are faster than copies between two ATA100 drives on the same bus, because in the second example they are both contending for bandwith on the same ATA controller.

    The bigger question is: Do you want an internal drive, or an external thay you can use as a backup and/or transport to another machine?


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