Would a HD connected via FireWire be as fast as a direct SATA connection?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Qwerty11, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. Qwerty11 macrumors regular

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    Sep 1, 2010
    #1
    I'm reading the specs on 1tb 7200 rpm HD and they generally can transfer data at a rate around 100 mb/s. I know SATA supports 3 or 6 gb/s (depending on model) and FireWire is now 800 mb/s. Given this, would it be correct to say that the performance of the HD would be the same on each connection?
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    FireWire 800 maxes out at about 70-80 megabytes per second. SATA I maxes out at about 130-140 megabytes per second. Not only is FireWire slower than the slower than the slowest SATA, it has a higher latency as well.
     
  3. g4cube macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 22, 2003
    #3
    But it depends on the HDD generation being used. Sure, today's 2, 3, or 4TB 7200RPM HDD can deliver 100+ MB/sec, but older drives from a few years ago caould barely achieve 70-80 MB/sec. FireWire was not the limiting factor, but rather the performance of the actual HDD. You could learn more by knowing the specs for the HDD being considered.
     
  4. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #4
    Every 1TB drive I've ever used consistently gets above 110 megabytes per second transfers. Even when they first came out. Nearly every desktop sized hard drive I've use that came out after about 2007 and is SATA has also achieved and maintained transfer speeds beyond that of FireWire's abilities.
     
  5. takeshi74 macrumors 601

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    Feb 9, 2011
    #5
    Be careful with B and b. They're entirely different units of measure. 1 B = 8 b.

    If that HD is 100Mbps then you should probably look at a different HD.
     
  6. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #6
    There is more to it than just raw data rate. For consumer use, SATA has been capable of transferring data to/from a hard drive faster than any other as it is a direct and native processor to drive controller data flow, but there is overhead and there is the effects of the OS and how well the HD performs. There are faster protocols, like SAS, but expensive for consumer use. SATA also has a one meter or less limit, intended for internal connections, was not intended to go outside the box.

    By the way, there is also error encoding on the raw data so there is about 10 bits for every 8 bit Byte. 6Gbps is roughly equivalent to 600MBps of data, but nothing achieves that due to protocol and OS overhead.

    You typically need more than two drives connected either via a port multiplier or RAID to saturate a single computer's SATA port.

    So yes SATA transfers more data per second than firewire, but the one meter and signal integrity limits you to short runs (you really need good cables and connectors). On the other hand, firewire is designed for outside the box and can move data quickly over many meters.

    So a useful answer depends on a bunch of things not mentioned. Like, if your hard drive is three meters away from your computer, firewire will be faster.
     

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