USB 2.0 or Firewire?

Started Nov 30, 2003 | Discussions
scrapdiggsAZ
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USB 2.0 or Firewire?
Nov 30, 2003

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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technicsplayer
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Re: USB 2.0 or Firewire?
In reply to scrapdiggsAZ, Nov 30, 2003

I think it depends on the particular hardware and interface. When usb2 was new firewire had the edge in speed, now usb2 has better driver implementation it is more even. I have usb2 and firewire and would say that practically with external hard drives for example there is not much in it. For video capture I prefer firewire because it is more mature in terms of hardware and drivers. For external hard drive I prefer usb2 because I can get away without a power supply more often. If you have no firewire devices I don't see a great gain from spending money to switch over. Depends if you get the new spec firewire devices soon.

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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scrapdiggsAZ
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Re: USB 2.0 or Firewire?
In reply to technicsplayer, Nov 30, 2003

nah, not planning on gettgin anything new anytime soon, just got my new hard drive and they are USB 2

technicsplayer wrote:
I think it depends on the particular hardware and interface. When
usb2 was new firewire had the edge in speed, now usb2 has better
driver implementation it is more even. I have usb2 and firewire and
would say that practically with external hard drives for example
there is not much in it. For video capture I prefer firewire
because it is more mature in terms of hardware and drivers. For
external hard drive I prefer usb2 because I can get away without a
power supply more often. If you have no firewire devices I don't
see a great gain from spending money to switch over. Depends if you
get the new spec firewire devices soon.

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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Kendall Helmstetter Gelner
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Depends - Firewire 800 2x faster, but not only HD support for now...
In reply to scrapdiggsAZ, Dec 1, 2003

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

Firewire and USB 2.0 are about the same speedwise right now.

Firewire 800 (possibly only supported on the Mac right now, not sure of PC cards?) is twice as fast but I've only seen external HD's that support it - no external CF readers for example (which would be a big reason to go that route).

One last factor to consider is that most video devices support firewire connections, so if you had leanings that way you might want to get a firewire connection anyway. It doesn't hurt to have both.

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Kozak Imre Oliver
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Re: USB 2.0 or Firewire?
In reply to scrapdiggsAZ, Dec 2, 2003

I am planning to buy a Maxtor OneTouch 300 GB external harddrive, it has both FireWire and USB 2.0. In my desktop PC, I already have a PCI FireWire card, so on the PC it will be FireWire. However, I have no fast ports on my laptop, and have to buy a PCMCIA card, either USB 2.0 or FW.

I have asked this question on at a hardware forum, and got the answer that they are similar in speed, but people who used both told the FW is slightly faster and somehow more convenient to use for mass storage. One guy said that the usable throughput of USB 2.0 was told to be 12 Mbyte/sec when copying files (not 12 Mbit/sec !).
Here's the forum link, it's in Hungarian:
http://www.hwsw.hu/perl/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=14&t=003592

I have been using FireWire and USB 1 with an external pocket harddrive that has FireWire 6 pin, FW 4 pin and USB 2.0 ports, it is a Sarotech Cutie with IBM TravelStar 2.5 40 GB.

What I see, that the PCI FireWire card of my PC can provide enough power for the pocket drive to work, while the motherboards USB 1 port not, and I have to use a power adapter.

I have a Toshiba Portégé 2000 laptop, it has only USB 1 ports. I have tried to use the Cutie on the USB 1 port and with a noname PCMCIA FW card, and at both places it needed the external power adapter (it is rated for 2.5 A).

I think USB 1 and the PCMCIA port can provide only 500 mA of power, while the dirve needs inbetween 500 mA and 1000 mA.

So, based on the other forum, the FW can be a little faster, and probably a PCI card can give enough power for an external harddrive (no adapter, less cable and bulk around your PC). I think USB 2.0 cannot provide more than 500 mA.

Cheers,
Oliver

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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technicsplayer
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Re: USB 2.0 or Firewire?
In reply to Kozak Imre Oliver, Dec 2, 2003

I use both usb2 and firwire with laptop drives and the speed depends on the files transferred more than the type of interface, for example copying large files like mp3s , tiffs or vobs, or small files like documents, midi ifles etc. Practically there just is not a lot in it.

You can buy a usb splitter cable that gets power from 2 usb ports to power the drives from a laptop with no adaptor. Few laptops (if any) have 6 pin firewires, so even when I use firewire I use the usb power ports to avoid an adaptor, because you can't power from firewire on laptops. This works for 20 and 40 G drives but not for 80 G drives.

Depends whether you are using laptops and desktops.

Kozak Imre Oliver wrote:
I am planning to buy a Maxtor OneTouch 300 GB external harddrive,
it has both FireWire and USB 2.0. In my desktop PC, I already have
a PCI FireWire card, so on the PC it will be FireWire. However, I
have no fast ports on my laptop, and have to buy a PCMCIA card,
either USB 2.0 or FW.

I have asked this question on at a hardware forum, and got the
answer that they are similar in speed, but people who used both
told the FW is slightly faster and somehow more convenient to use
for mass storage. One guy said that the usable throughput of USB
2.0 was told to be 12 Mbyte/sec when copying files (not 12 Mbit/sec
!).
Here's the forum link, it's in Hungarian:
http://www.hwsw.hu/perl/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=14&t=003592

I have been using FireWire and USB 1 with an external pocket
harddrive that has FireWire 6 pin, FW 4 pin and USB 2.0 ports, it
is a Sarotech Cutie with IBM TravelStar 2.5 40 GB.

What I see, that the PCI FireWire card of my PC can provide enough
power for the pocket drive to work, while the motherboards USB 1
port not, and I have to use a power adapter.

I have a Toshiba Portégé 2000 laptop, it has only USB 1 ports. I
have tried to use the Cutie on the USB 1 port and with a noname
PCMCIA FW card, and at both places it needed the external power
adapter (it is rated for 2.5 A).

I think USB 1 and the PCMCIA port can provide only 500 mA of power,
while the dirve needs inbetween 500 mA and 1000 mA.

So, based on the other forum, the FW can be a little faster, and
probably a PCI card can give enough power for an external harddrive
(no adapter, less cable and bulk around your PC). I think USB 2.0
cannot provide more than 500 mA.

Cheers,
Oliver

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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Estuardo
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IEEE 1394b is available on the PC
In reply to technicsplayer, Dec 3, 2003

In response to a post above questioning the available of Firewire 800 for the PC, IEEE 1394b, aka Firewire 800, is indeed available on the PC. See http://www.firewiredirect.com/ It's been there since mid 2003 I think.

I think a more interesting question would be, would it be worth upgrading to Firewire 800 from USB2.0 or Firewire 400? I'm thinking of external hard drive use. Of course, the PC would need the IEEE 1394b PCI card to take advantage of the higher speed.

I've never seen any tests or reviews done with Firewire 800.

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technicsplayer
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Re: IEEE 1394b is available on the PC
In reply to Estuardo, Dec 3, 2003

that is an interesting question. Will the write speeds of the hard drives at either end limit the total performance even though the conduit is faster? Will you see faster only with 7200 drives? I haven't seen any tests or great publicity about 800 either. I suppose we will get a usb3 to play catch up?

Estuardo wrote:

In response to a post above questioning the available of Firewire
800 for the PC, IEEE 1394b, aka Firewire 800, is indeed available
on the PC. See http://www.firewiredirect.com/ It's been there since
mid 2003 I think.

I think a more interesting question would be, would it be worth
upgrading to Firewire 800 from USB2.0 or Firewire 400? I'm thinking
of external hard drive use. Of course, the PC would need the IEEE
1394b PCI card to take advantage of the higher speed.

I've never seen any tests or reviews done with Firewire 800.

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Kozak Imre Oliver
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Re: IEEE 1394b is available on the PC
In reply to technicsplayer, Dec 3, 2003

Well, according to forum discussions, the drives are faster than the actual USB 2.0 and FireWire speeds.

I have raised the question, is there a performance difference between the Maxtor OneTouch 300 GB (it has 5200 rpm / 2 MB cache) and the Maxtor OneTouch 250 GB (it has 7200 rpm / 8 MB cache). Ppl said that the faster rpm makes more heat, makes more noise, and consumes more power, and the 8 MB cache makes a difference when accessing a lot of small files one after the other (like operating system files). So, they said that both drives would be probably of the same speed for me (I want to store large backup files, and cd-rom images).

As for the speed, you should notice, that we had the same when ATA 66 and 100 were introduced. It seems that hard drives can deliver at about 50 Mbyte/sec (or Mbit - I am not sure, what really counts is the relative proportion), so an ATA 66 bus was already fas enough. The increased bus speed is benficient only when you actually access data from the drive cache. And in fact, ATA 100 drives were faster not because of the higher bus speed, but because the drives bacame actually a bit faster inside.

I think that both USB 2.0 and FW400 are inferior but close to the speed a drive is able to pump data on the bus.

As for the gain of FireWire 800, I'll have a look in my MacAddict magazines, there were a couple of reviews on such drives. But us I remember, it was very expensive, but not that extremly fast, and they gave it a said performance/price rating.

technicsplayer wrote:
that is an interesting question. Will the write speeds of the hard
drives at either end limit the total performance even though the
conduit is faster? Will you see faster only with 7200 drives? I
haven't seen any tests or great publicity about 800 either. I
suppose we will get a usb3 to play catch up?

Estuardo wrote:

In response to a post above questioning the available of Firewire
800 for the PC, IEEE 1394b, aka Firewire 800, is indeed available
on the PC. See http://www.firewiredirect.com/ It's been there since
mid 2003 I think.

I think a more interesting question would be, would it be worth
upgrading to Firewire 800 from USB2.0 or Firewire 400? I'm thinking
of external hard drive use. Of course, the PC would need the IEEE
1394b PCI card to take advantage of the higher speed.

I've never seen any tests or reviews done with Firewire 800.

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Kozak Imre Oliver
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Re: IEEE 1394b is available on the PC
In reply to technicsplayer, Dec 4, 2003

From MacAddict Magazine, Oct 2003

Cobra FireWire 400/800 USB 2.0, 250 GB, ATA100/7200rpm/8 MB cache

2 GB testfile reading/writing:
FireWire 800: 42 Mbyte/s
FireWire 400: 30 Mbyte/s

100 MB test file and a folder with 100 MB made of 4 MB testfiles:
FireWire 800: read and write accomplished in 2 to 3 seconds
FireWire 400: -

Two Cobras used in Raid 0 (500 GB), this is a feature of OS X
FireWire 800: 50 Mbyte/s
FireWire 400: -

As you can see, FireWire 800 can be up to 40 % faster, or even 60 % faster when used in Raid 0 mode, given the same drive setup just with different ports.

The EQuest Cobra FireWire 800/USB 2.0 250 GB is listed for $569.
The Maxtor OneTouch FirwWire 400/USB 2.0 250 GB is listed for $299 (CNet).
The Maxtor OneTouch FirwWire 400/USB 2.0 300 GB is listed for $345 (CNet).

I would be curious to see the USB 2.0 speeds, but they do not talk about any.

technicsplayer wrote:
that is an interesting question. Will the write speeds of the hard
drives at either end limit the total performance even though the
conduit is faster? Will you see faster only with 7200 drives? I
haven't seen any tests or great publicity about 800 either. I
suppose we will get a usb3 to play catch up?

Estuardo wrote:

In response to a post above questioning the available of Firewire
800 for the PC, IEEE 1394b, aka Firewire 800, is indeed available
on the PC. See http://www.firewiredirect.com/ It's been there since
mid 2003 I think.

I think a more interesting question would be, would it be worth
upgrading to Firewire 800 from USB2.0 or Firewire 400? I'm thinking
of external hard drive use. Of course, the PC would need the IEEE
1394b PCI card to take advantage of the higher speed.

I've never seen any tests or reviews done with Firewire 800.

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Jim T
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Re: IEEE 1394b is available on the PC
In reply to Kozak Imre Oliver, Dec 4, 2003

I've been playing with both Firewire and USB2 external HDD and card readers for about a year on my desktop PC and older Notebooks. My conclusions are that Firewire is more convenient, no drivers for WinXP needed, daisy chain devices easily...

With externally powered devices I've had no problems with Firewire connected to a simple PCI card. But non-external powered devices such as my Firewire card reader has problems getting power through the PCI connected cable. This was solved by adding an Orange Micro Powered Firewire HUB. I hook all Firewire devices to this hub now. Most of the PCI Firewire cards out there cannot provide sufficient power through the PCI bus on my system. There are a few Firewire cards that have a jumper wire allowing the card to draw power off floppy drive power leads, but these were more expensive than the external powered hub.

Originally the USB2 drivers were buggy and caused problems on my WinXP PC. With my older notebook computers, the USB2 PCMCIA card seems to limited by the PCMCIA bus as the USB2 devices actual run faster when connected to the USB1 ports. The Firewire PCMCIA card didn't seem to have this problem.

I originally had endless problems with an external Firewire/USB2 CDROM enclosure. It seemed to only work with the USB2 connection. I was using an older DVDRom in the enclosure and the Firewire connection did not work. I put the DVDrom drive in the internal drive bay and the CDRW drive in the external enclosure and it works fine.

I tested out a Lexar USB2 7 in 1 card reader and it is slightly slower compared to the Firewire reading Smartmedia cards. I've got "High Speed" CF cards, Memory stick and a generic SD card. Turns out the Generic SD card is twice as fast when compared to all the other media in the USB2 reader.

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technicsplayer
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Re: IEEE 1394b is available on the PC
In reply to Jim T, Dec 4, 2003

Jim T wrote:

With my older notebook computers, the USB2 PCMCIA card
seems to limited by the PCMCIA bus as the USB2 devices actual run
faster when connected to the USB1 ports. The Firewire PCMCIA card
didn't seem to have this problem.

I think you must have had a driver problem or something wrong. My experience with a usb2 pcmcia card on my old 98SE laptop (usb1.1 built in) in general it was 6 or 7 times faster than usb1 in practice depending on the type of files being copied.

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Kozak Imre Oliver
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Re: IEEE 1394b is available on the PC
In reply to Kozak Imre Oliver, Dec 4, 2003

This page http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=149 shows a USB 2.0 speed to be about 16-17 Mbyte/sec.

Kozak Imre Oliver wrote:
From MacAddict Magazine, Oct 2003

Cobra FireWire 400/800 USB 2.0, 250 GB, ATA100/7200rpm/8 MB cache

2 GB testfile reading/writing:
FireWire 800: 42 Mbyte/s
FireWire 400: 30 Mbyte/s

100 MB test file and a folder with 100 MB made of 4 MB testfiles:
FireWire 800: read and write accomplished in 2 to 3 seconds
FireWire 400: -

Two Cobras used in Raid 0 (500 GB), this is a feature of OS X
FireWire 800: 50 Mbyte/s
FireWire 400: -

As you can see, FireWire 800 can be up to 40 % faster, or even 60 %
faster when used in Raid 0 mode, given the same drive setup just
with different ports.

The EQuest Cobra FireWire 800/USB 2.0 250 GB is listed for $569.
The Maxtor OneTouch FirwWire 400/USB 2.0 250 GB is listed for $299
(CNet).
The Maxtor OneTouch FirwWire 400/USB 2.0 300 GB is listed for $345
(CNet).

I would be curious to see the USB 2.0 speeds, but they do not talk
about any.

technicsplayer wrote:
that is an interesting question. Will the write speeds of the hard
drives at either end limit the total performance even though the
conduit is faster? Will you see faster only with 7200 drives? I
haven't seen any tests or great publicity about 800 either. I
suppose we will get a usb3 to play catch up?

Estuardo wrote:

In response to a post above questioning the available of Firewire
800 for the PC, IEEE 1394b, aka Firewire 800, is indeed available
on the PC. See http://www.firewiredirect.com/ It's been there since
mid 2003 I think.

I think a more interesting question would be, would it be worth
upgrading to Firewire 800 from USB2.0 or Firewire 400? I'm thinking
of external hard drive use. Of course, the PC would need the IEEE
1394b PCI card to take advantage of the higher speed.

I've never seen any tests or reviews done with Firewire 800.

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Kozak Imre Oliver
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Re: USB 2.0 or Firewire?
In reply to scrapdiggsAZ, Dec 9, 2003

This http://www.barefeats.com/fire35.html page says, that 1. UltraSCSI 320 is the fastest. 2. FW 800 and S-ATA are nearly of the same very fast speed. 3. FW 400 is slower than FW800, it's worth the upgrade if you have the money and a fast hard drive. 4. USB 2.0 is considerably slower compared to FW400, FW800, SATA and UltraSCSI320. It is better to chose FW400 than USB 2.0 for an external 3.5 hard drive.

This http://www.barefeats.com/fire37.html page says there's no real difference between different FW800 3.5 enclosures.

This http://www.barefeats.com/fire40.html page says that the Hitachi 7K60 60 GB 7200 rpm 2.5 drive performs faster in a FW800 enclosure compared to a FW400 enclosure. And this Hitachi drive is so fast that it's speed is comparable to that of 3.5 drives.

This http://www.barefeats.com/fire40b.html page says that other 2.5 drives to not get any speed gain in a FW800 case compared to a FW400 case. And a 2.5 external solution is still much slower compared to a 3.5 external solution.

So here's my conclusion:

1. In the area of 3.5 external hard drives FW800 is faster than FW400, and SATA and FW800 equals in speed.

2. For 2.5 external hard drives, FW400 is as good as FW800, except if you buy an expensive brand new Hitachi 7K60 7200 rpm 2.5 drive.

3. USB 2.0 is way much slower, go for FW400 for all means for an external hard drive.

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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bill1
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Re: USB 2.0 or Firewire?
In reply to scrapdiggsAZ, Dec 9, 2003

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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'The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.'

Evidence seems to suggest Firewire has an edge over USB 2.0:

http://www.firewire-1394.com/firewire-vs-usb.htm
(granted this comes from a site that could be viewed as "pro-FW")

http://computer.howstuffworks.com/firewire2.htm

"Given that their speeds are now roughly identical, the big difference remaining between FireWire and USB 2.0 is that USB 2.0 is host-based, meaning that devices must connect to a computer in order to communicate. FireWire is peer-to-peer, meaning that two FireWire cameras can talk to each other without going through a computer."

Is it worth tossing your gear for Firewire? Personally I'd say no. I have an external HD that has both FW and USB interfaces. Thats quite nice. I see USB as having two main advantages over FW that would make me choose it if I was forced to choose one over the other:

1. USB is (virtually) ubiquitous. Virtually every PC or notebook built in the last 3-5 years will have a USB 1.1 or 2.0 connection. Firewire isn't ubiquitous in newly built PCs/notebooks even now (although it is very common); and

2. If you take your external HD (or card reader or whatever) to another computer then you will almost certainly be able to use USB1.1 at least. This is something as opposed to nothing. What do you do with a FW device if you need to use it on a comp wi/o FW?

If you're always going to use your devices on 1-2 PCs that all have Firewire then the advantages of USB disappear but I find its useful to take my hardware and plug it into the PCs of friends/family.

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Kozak Imre Oliver
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Re: USB 2.0 or Firewire?
In reply to scrapdiggsAZ, Dec 18, 2003

Check out diz:

http://www.foxpop.co.uk/pc/usb_02.htm

I hope it helps.

scrapdiggsAZ wrote:

Ive got all USB 2.0 and im happy with the speed. Is Fireware
better? Same? Worse?

And lastly is it really worth switching everything over to it?

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