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eSATA Explained.

eSata stands for External Serial Advanced Technology Attachment or is an external interface for SATA technologies. We have been using high speed SATA drives in the manufacturing of computers for some years now as a replacement and improvement on ATA technologies,the old IDE interface hard drives, CD & DVD Drives. SATA architecture is considerably faster than IDE. eSATA transfer rates exceed Firewire 400, 800 and USB 2.0, providing fast data transfer speeds (throughput) for external storage devices. Like the Firewire 800 cables, eSATA cables are only 1cm wide and can be up to and including 2m long. downside of eSATA is that unlike USB, USB 2 & Firewire, eSATA needs to have its own power connector, this can be drawn from a USB port. This latter detail reveals a to eSATA, i.e., it require 2 cables, whereas USB, USB 2 and Firewire only require 1.

On the up side eSATA, for those technically savvy people, eSATA doesn’t have to translate data between the interface and the computer. This increases throughput, thus saving on central processor resources. If you don’t have an eSATA port on your computer, you can buy a PCI card that has an eSATA interface. Notebooks can use an external eSATA device made for the PCMCIA slot, PC Card, or the Express card slot, depending on the laptop model.

eSATA enables use of fast SATA drives for external disks freeing up local disk space, also providing truly fast portable storage. However, a SATA USB 2 drive provides exactly the same facility, costs less and only requires the 1 USB cable.

Like the eSATA drives the USB 2 drives are hot-swappable, therefore they seem to win out. From Network Administrator to home users, even gamers would find a 2.5” (6cm) external SATA Drive useful be it eSATA or USB.

The main reason for using an eSATA drive really is throughput. With standard USB or USB 2.0, transfer of large files or streaming video from an external drive can be an issue due to slower throughput, the inability to send the data through the USB pipe at a fast enough rate. eSATA eliminates this issue using the same channel that the computer's internal hard drives use, not the USB channel. In doing this the throughput can double that of the USB channel, depending on the computer and the eSATA drive but up to 3gb/sec.

From as purely economic perspective eSATA drives are comparably priced with USB 2 drive, but when comparing sizes and availability, the 2.5” 500Gb USB drives are more readily available and usually more affordable. eSATA drives are readily available in 1 & 2Tb sizes but are more available in 3.5” form factor than 2.5” and therefore more cumbersome. USB and SUB drives work with older hardware whereas eSATA is not compatible. USB & USB 2 drives, like Firewire 400 & 800 only require 1 cable, whereas eSATA requires 2.


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