Seagate 500 GB External Hard Drive Goes eSATA

Test System

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System Hardware
Processor(s)2x Intel Xeon Processor (Nocona core)3.6 GHz, FSB 800, 1 MB L2 Cache
PlatformAsus NCL-DS (Socket 604)Intel E7520 Chipset, BIOS 1005
RAMCorsair CM72DD512AR-400 (DDR2-400 ECC, reg.)2x 512 MB, CL3-3-3-10 Timings
System Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar WD1200JB120 GB, 7,200 RPM, 8 MB Cache, UltraATA/100
Test Hard Drive IWestern Digital WD1500AD Raptor150 GB, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB Cache, SATA/150
Mass Storage Controller(s)Intel 82801EB UltraATA/100 Controller (ICH5)Silicon Image SATALink SiL3512 Driver FastTrak TX4310 Driver SATA 300TX4 Driver
NetworkingBroadcom BCM5721 On-Board Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics CardOn-Board GraphicsATI RageXL, 8 MB
System Hardware
Performance Measurementc’t h2benchw 3.6
PCMark05 V1.01
System Software & Drivers
OSMicrosoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition, Service Pack 1
Platform DriverIntel Chipset Installation Utility
Graphics DriverDefault 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.