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Thumb Drives: Introducing 128 GB USB And High-Speed eSATA

Thumb Drives: Introducing 128 GB USB And High-Speed eSATA
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Thumb drives are extremely versatile, and they’ve reached capacities large enough to store all of your personal data on one ultra-portable device. In addition, many different flavors exist, including drives that are waterproof, have ruggedized casings, or are extremely small; all of these choices make thumb drives even more attractive. Thumb drives are now going to the next level, reaching 128 GB capacities and introducing eSATA as an interface alternative to USB 2.0. We gave several models a try to see how they fare.

Speed vs. Capacity

eSATA may seem like overkill for a portable storage device, but USB 2.0’s 35 MB/s effective maximum throughput results in a lot of waiting around when you need to store many gigabytes of data onto a high-capacity thumb drive. Effective throughput is lower than the gross maximum figure, and in addition, write performance is typically lower than read speeds as well. The fact that large 32 and 64 GB drives tend to be even slower makes things worse.

Waiting for USB 3.0

Considering how long it takes to fill a higher-capacity, USB 2.0 thumb drive with data—30 minutes in an ideal scenario for 64 GB—it definitely makes sense to equip high-performance drives with a faster interface, such as USB 3.0, which is on schedule to be integrated into next-generation platforms in 2010. The first controllers are available in small quantities, but it will take until next year until USB 3.0 has its breakthrough.

Until then, eSATA may be an option. We looked at three thumb drives by Maxell, OCZ, and Silicon Power that are equipped with eSATA interfaces, and we also decided to add the first 128 GB USB 2.0 thumb drive by Kingston.

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  • 9 Hide
    masterjaw , August 7, 2009 6:49 AM
    The problem with eSATA would be the connectors. It would defeat the purpose of portability if you can't find ports to connect it. Might as well look forward to USB 3.0.
  • 1 Hide
    rambo117 , August 7, 2009 8:00 AM
    masterjaw 1+^

    the eSATA has some nice performance but if it requires a power cable, then why not get an external harddrive which will have an alot better space/$$$ ratio.

    or we could just wait till USB3.0 comes out ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    gorounreal , August 7, 2009 8:01 AM
    There's also a 256gb Kingston flash stick out now:
    http://www.kingston.com/ukroot/flash/dt300.asp

    But far too expensive at $1500 AUD
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , August 7, 2009 8:06 AM
    I personally like the Silicon Power drive. Offers all the storage I need for quick portable needs, and isn't too far off of a external HDD. Sounds like something I would pump my OS on.

    What about USB RAID 0 setups? I have come accross it before, and thus want to see it on several of these Silicon Power drives to get SSD performance. ^_^

    gorounrealThere's also a 256gb Kingston flash stick out now:http://www.kingston.com/ukroot/flash/dt300.aspBut far too expensive at $1500 AUD


    Ouch. =/
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 7, 2009 8:38 AM
    I don't like this comparison.
    The comparison is totally wrong. SSD drives/memory and USB sticks work differently. SSD memory has an additional controller with buffering and RAM to speed up transfers. USB sticks do not. So its obvious that eSATA SSD performs better than USB sticks.
  • 2 Hide
    inmytaxi , August 7, 2009 9:23 AM
    I bought the OCZ Throttle 16 gb to see if the Ready Boost performance was superior through esata, but I've not seen a difference(didn't use ready boost before at all) in benchmarks and haven't noticed one in real life either.

    Still, nice to use my unused esata port!
  • 1 Hide
    LuxZg , August 7, 2009 9:38 AM
    I wish that eSATA+USB ports would become officially supported by both SATA-IO and USB forum groups. It is a great idea, and solves a lot of problems for hybrid devices like these. And hybrid ways of this socket also solve many problems for eSATA like power and backward compatibility. USB forum has less (if any) benefits for accepting it, but "legalizing" this would be just a big plus for the general consumers.
  • 0 Hide
    techpops , August 7, 2009 12:28 PM
    Great read.

    I'd be interested in a smaller once of these, 8gb ocz sounds about what I'd need and use it for caching. Firefox cache and things of that nature.

    I'm surprised that ready boost didn't improve but possibly you're running with a lot of system memory anyway @ inmtaxi ? It wouldn't really have much of an effect at all in that case.

    So as a caching decide, the esata is the way to go?

    I haven't seen any of these in the stores yet here in the UK but would love to try one, what are the prices like for the ocz models?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 7, 2009 12:41 PM
    This is more like it........usb at one end & sata at the other....http://www.kanguru.com/eflash.html#
  • -2 Hide
    inmytaxi , August 7, 2009 12:47 PM
    It pricey, $54 for the 16 gb at tigerdirect, $32 for the 8 gb. I got 1.99 postage because my total purchase > $100 ...

    I run 4 gb ocz ddr2 1200 with raid 0 wd blacks (2x 640 gb)
  • 0 Hide
    Grims , August 7, 2009 1:03 PM
    I would rather wait for USB 3 with the same performance, but with backwards compatibility with all existing computers.
  • 1 Hide
    inmytaxi , August 7, 2009 1:41 PM
    USB 3 won't do any good for me until I upgrade my motherboard, and by then we'll have eSata 3 ... I wish eSata was more widely adapted.

    When I buy a new laptop eSata is a near must have requirement, unless I see a super deal without it.
  • 0 Hide
    techpops , August 7, 2009 1:49 PM
    Ah if only those dollars just converted to UK pounds I'd be happy but usually the dollar price gets increased a lot or even doubled coming over here (weeps)

    So my guess for the 8gb ocz would be around $60-60 for us. I'm still tempted, been after a solution for caching permanently for a long time. Ramdisks always create problems, eating into system memory and a hassle to keep it permanent and not just dissapear on reboot.

    As for USB3, I think I'm a few years away from that. Motherboard wont need upgrading till then so that's a no go for me.
  • 0 Hide
    LuxZg , August 7, 2009 3:15 PM
    Grims - this IS backwards compatible with all your computers! Unless you've missed it - it work with USB 2.0, which is exactly compatibility you're looking for. eSATA is just for extra speed if your MBO has it. And if you've bought computer in last year or so, you probably already have eSATA on your MBO, so no need to wait for USB3.0 to get out, and than another year before they start producing USB drives with 3.0, MBOs with 3.0, and buying new MBO just so you can have speedier portable storage.

    These things are real nice looking, but - unfortunately, not available where I live at the moment... so best I can do is buy an external 2.5" drive that has USB+eSATA :( 
  • 0 Hide
    rambo117 , August 7, 2009 4:43 PM
    anamaniacI personally like the Silicon Power drive. Offers all the storage I need for quick portable needs, and isn't too far off of a external HDD. Sounds like something I would pump my OS on.What about USB RAID 0 setups? I have come accross it before, and thus want to see it on several of these Silicon Power drives to get SSD performance.


    USB RAID? ive never heard of it.. how much would that increase performance? sounds like something im gonna be googling today :) 
  • 0 Hide
    senses , August 7, 2009 10:53 PM
    gedrorI don't like this comparison.The comparison is totally wrong. SSD drives/memory and USB sticks work differently. SSD memory has an additional controller with buffering and RAM to speed up transfers. USB sticks do not. So its obvious that eSATA SSD performs better than USB sticks.


    Did you read the article? It's not trying to find if the USB stick is as fast as the eSata/USB sticks.
  • 0 Hide
    techpops , August 7, 2009 11:42 PM
    rambo117USB RAID? ive never heard of it.. how much would that increase performance? sounds like something im gonna be googling today


    I had a go googling around, the idea intrigued me too. It seems you can't do this on Windows, only under Linux and the results are dissapointing unless you fill a certain limited criteria.

    It seems that a good use of an array for USB Flash Drives would be if you had 4 slow drives. You could gain huge improvements in transfer speeds with this setup.

    However, with faster Flash Drives, the increase hits the ceiling of what USB can offer and being limited to Linux makes the whole idea pointless for me. So a single drive like a Patriot seems like the best way to go for pure USB speeds.

    I also did some more research on prices in the UK. I was close enough, you're looking at double the dollar price or to put it another way, almost twice the price of the fastest USB Flash Drives I know of, the Patriots.

    $56 for the 16gb OCZ esata against $34 for an 8gb USB only patriot drive. A huge price bump for what essentially boils down to much faster read speed but not much difference in write speed.

    I suspect these esata flash drives will stay on my amazon wishlist for sometime :) 
  • 0 Hide
    techpops , August 7, 2009 11:44 PM
    curse the no edit button!

    I meant 8gb ocz.
  • 0 Hide
    spazebar , August 8, 2009 4:36 AM
    so if I take 6 eSata 128GB flash drives cut off the little l part on the mother board and use the USB headers on my MB I could have a 640GB Raid 5 array that takes up less space than a single HDD?
  • 0 Hide
    techpops , August 8, 2009 6:31 AM
    Sure, but you'd have a Linux only $3000+ 640gb tiny array or looking at it another way, a more money than sense array.
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