Storage Accessories: Move, Cool, Multiply


This little bunny is a device we found by accident. The SPIF215a is a USB 2.0 to eSATA dongle, which allows users to attach eSATA devices using a USB 2.0 port. While this sounds ridiculous from a bandwidth standpoint (USB 2.0 is maxed out at less than 35 MB/s, while eSATA can reach more than 200 MB/s), this product is an extremely valuable tool if you have to handle various external drives on different host systems - or if you want to purchase a high-end external storage product with eSATA without yet having an eSATA port to operate it. If you remember our last external storage roundups, you'll recall that moving up to 1 TB of data via USB 2.0 is an extremely long process. eSATA clearly is the future for external storage that has to offer either high performance or high capacity - which also requires serious bandwidth if you frequently handle a lot of data.

You don't need drivers if you run Windows 2000, Windows XP or Windows Vista, but you will need drivers for Windows 98. Luckily, Sunplus includes drivers for most of the common USB controllers. The SPIF215a maxes out the possible bandwidth by delivering up to 32 MB/s and an 8.2-ms average access time for the Western Digital WD740 Raptor 10,000 RPM hard drive, which we used for our tests. While the drive is capable of delivering up to 87 MB/s via SATA, the access time we measured on the SPIF215a isn't really much slower than with SATA.

This is the content of the driver CD. Sunplus provides USB controller drivers for Windows 98. You don't need any drivers for Windows 2000, XP or Vista.