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Sending data to 50+ devices over USB

Last response: in Business Computing
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July 20, 2012 4:16:56 AM

Greetings. I was tasked with the challenge of building a production desktop at work, that needed to be capable of sending data over USB to 30+ devices, be a small form factor, and be cheap. I put together the following:

Asus Maximus IV GENE-Z mobo
i7-2600k @3.4GHz
8GB Corsair Vengeance
2x StarTech 5 Port PCI Express USB 2.0

We have a 2x 10port USB hubs hooked up to one USB card, and another 10port USB hub to the other. These then connect to the devices we are sending data to. The files are stored on a server, but I made sure they had a fast connection speed. Currently, we can successfully send data to 30~50 devices, 40+ being when the CPU maxes out and the transfers slow down, 50+ being when the syncs will begin to fail randomly. The goal is to reach 50+ reliably by the end of the year. Obviously, there might have to be hardware changes, if not a whole new system built. My question now being, what specs and hardware should I consider to complete this task? Is there anything I might be overlooking that could cause the slowdown, or causing the CPU to be behaving as it does? Any input is greatly appreciated.
July 20, 2012 4:39:48 PM

what is the specs of the older system ?
please add the following :
1. psu
2. os
3. hdd
4. case

ps
cheap it wont be :hello: 
July 20, 2012 5:08:42 PM

OS: Windows 7 Pro x64
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200 RPM
Case & PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The files are stored on a server, the drive is unknown(the server was setup before I started, and is going to be upgraded soon)

And I informed the higher ups that it's gonna cost them this time ;) 
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July 20, 2012 8:49:11 PM

hope those usb hubs are self powered.
July 20, 2012 9:45:40 PM

Hi :) 

In THEORY you can run 128 Usb devices....

BUT....

First they MUST all be powered and I mean mains powered Hubs...and you shouldnt link them...

Secondly, I think you will run out of cpu power or ram long before you get to 128...

I would suggest a minimum of two machines to run 30 t0 50...

Ans it WONT be cheap...no way in the world....

All the best Brett :) 
July 20, 2012 10:08:01 PM

I do this all the time as I duplicate mass usb drives for my office. I am only able to copy to 23 usb drives at one time, because windows will only let you use D-Z. After that i have to manually assign a and b or I have to manually mount the drives. Both of which take a long time in compared to just pluging in the jump drives and running my little xcopy batch file.

I started with an HP DC7800. I then added 2 PCI USB controller cards because I guessed that stringing 20 drives off 1 USB controller would slow it down.
Supprisingly I found that 23 usb drive will easily max out a core 2duo 3.0 before it maxes the ram, harddrive, or the usb controllers. I saw my core 2 rocket at 100% utilization and stay there. USB has alot more overhead then I guessed.

Anyway I did the same thing as you. 4x7 port usb hubs for a total of 28 drives. Each hub has its own USB controller, 2 onboard and 2 pci cards.

I am able to fill 23 2gig usb drives every 10 minutes or so. The longest part of the job is waiting for windows 7 to assign each drive a letter. When you plug in 23 usb drives at once windows sorta flip outs of a minute or 2.

I would guess that one could use a linux distro to power this contraption to solve all the problems I bumped into.

Question what are you using for software to control this? Are you only doing a simple file transfer? Over the last year or so i have probablly filled about 10,000 2 gig usb drives with PPTs and PDFs and other handouts. My simple rig with a batch file very rarely has write errors. More often I bump into batches of bad USB drives that wont format or wont write... I found my defect rate to be like 1-2%, but i am buy the cheapest usb drives the internet has to offer.
July 20, 2012 10:24:07 PM

this will produce crazy slow copy times but i assume you already know that.
August 31, 2012 6:51:01 PM

Hey everyone, thanks for replying. The problem is mostly fixed now, except I've run into an issue with Windows 7. The driver cache crashes after 200+ flashes. I think this is an issue I might not be able to work around.
!