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Test System

Seagate 500 GB External Hard Drive Goes eSATA
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System Hardware
Processor(s) 2x Intel Xeon Processor (Nocona core)
3.6 GHz, FSB 800, 1 MB L2 Cache
Platform Asus NCL-DS (Socket 604)
Intel E7520 Chipset, BIOS 1005
RAM Corsair CM72DD512AR-400 (DDR2-400 ECC, reg.)
2x 512 MB, CL3-3-3-10 Timings
System Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar WD1200JB
120 GB, 7,200 RPM, 8 MB Cache, UltraATA/100
Test Hard Drive I Western Digital WD1500AD Raptor
150 GB, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA/150
Mass Storage Controller(s) Intel 82801EB UltraATA/100 Controller (ICH5)
Silicon Image SATALink SiL3512 Driver 1.2.0.57
Promise FastTrak TX4310 Driver 2.06.1.310
Promise SATA 300TX4 Driver 1.0.0.33
Networking Broadcom BCM5721 On-Board Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics Card On-Board Graphics
ATI RageXL, 8 MB
System Hardware
Performance Measurement c’t h2benchw 3.6
PCMark05 V1.01
System Software & Drivers
OS Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, Service Pack 1
Platform Driver Intel Chipset Installation Utility 7.0.0.1025
Graphics Driver Default Windows Graphics Driver

Let’s examine the performance Seagate’s new eSATA drive and see if it’s as fast as it’s purported to be. First, let’s have a look at read access times.

Benchmark Results

Access Time

The red bar represents the new eSATA external drive attached to the Promise eSATA300 TX2 card included with the drive. For reference, we highlighted in blue the results obtained with a Seagate 500 GB SATA drive, which is what the eSATA external drive contains, only attached internally via the motherboard’s SATA connector.

The result is a bit strange : we recorded a pretty large difference between the eSATA and its internal counterpart. In these access time tests, the eSATA was slowest of the group, even bested by USB and Firewire drives.

In theory, the eSATA should perform identically to the internal SATA drive if it were plugged in to one of the motherboard’s internal SATA connectors, or an external SATA connector if it comes so equipped. Since the actual hard disks are identical, the difference we see between the two is probably a result of latency added with the Promise eSATA300 TX2 card, as opposed to the motherboard’s onboard SATA controller.

Odd results indeed for what we expect to be a very high performance solution. Keep in mind, however, this test is for access time only. The really interesting numbers should appear in the read and write transfer tests.

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