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Old 12-06-2008, 03:24 PM   #1
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Default OCZ Releases Throttle eSATA-based Thumb Drive

From our front-page news:
When USB-based thumb drives first came out, they were an object of envy. But, initial prices were rather ridiculous. The first one I ever had was a "freebie" from Dell with the purchase of an overpriced notebook (at the time). At 64MB, I couldn't really do much with it, except store very small files, but hey, it still came in handy at the oddest of times.

Because of the sheer popularity of these things, it's hard for companies to differentiate themselves from the crowd. The top-end speeds were hit a while ago (due to USB 2.0 limitations), and there's only so many different styles before things become a bit boring. Well, OCZ is trying to change things up, and might do so with their eSATA "Throttle" flash drive, which, as you probably guess, utilizes the eSATA port on your desktop or notebook.

Thanks to the connection, Read speeds are clocked at 90MB/s, while Write speeds remain the same as a typical USB thumb drive, at 30MB/s Write. Surely, most people would prefer faster Write speeds, but it sure doesn't seem to be happening with the current flash chips available... at least at this price-range.

What would interest me, though, is booting an OS from this thing. People are already doing that with their USB drives, but with 3x the overall Read speed, theoretically, it should almost be as fast as a mechanical hard drive. This would also depend on whether or not your motherboard could boot from eSATA, but chances are good that it would be able to. Interesting product nonetheless.


The OCZ Throttle eSATA drive offers performance and versatility for enthusiasts that demand the best hardware. The integration of eSATA connectivity now extends beyond desktop systems to laptops, offering increased data transfer rates with extreme portability while eliminating extra cords and power cables.


Source: OCZ Throttle Product Page
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Old 12-08-2008, 10:48 AM   #2
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Its a novel idea. And I do wonder how they pulled it off, maybe some fancy design with high quality chips... either way I think this will remain nothing but a niche product. USB 3.0 will be here inside two years and offer the same speeds, at which point I would bet flash drive speeds will once again become a hot topic.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:15 PM   #3
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If all it does is make E-Sata ports on the fronts of our cases relevant then it serves a good purpose considering nothing else has done it yet with any noticeable success.
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Old 12-08-2008, 05:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kougar View Post
And I do wonder how they pulled it off, maybe some fancy design with high quality chips...
Nothing fancy might have occurred, to be honest. The bottleneck of thumb drives up to this point has been the USB bus, which tops out at around 36MB/s... a speed that some thumb drives have been able to achieve. It could be that the chips had great potential to begin with... it just needed more system bandwidth to take advantage of. I could be completely wrong here though.

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If all it does is make E-Sata ports on the fronts of our cases relevant then it serves a good purpose considering nothing else has done it yet with any noticeable success.
Haha, this is true to an extent. I know some people love their external hard drives, but they still haven't caught on to a great degree. I'm still a big fan of network storage. It's nice being able to access one source regardless of where I am in the house.
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Old 12-09-2008, 03:27 AM   #5
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Well, I assume flash drives intentionally use extremely low bin grade memory chips. The lower the bin the lower the performance, but the cheaper the cost. So they wouldn't want to be buying anything capable of speeds >36MB/s... But you would be right. They can probably just buy higher bin grades that reach those levels of performance now... hmm.

Rob, I gotta agree a NAS simplifies things greatly... especially if you set it up to be accessible when on the go. I was a complete slob when it came to file organization, now at least I'm only a half-slob about it.

Supposedly USB 3.0 is set to be released early 2009, but not start showing up in mainstream boards until 2010... I could always be wrong though. It will bring 600MB/s speeds... almost on par with the unreleased SATA 600MB/s spec.
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Old 12-09-2008, 01:34 PM   #6
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Another thought... even if they did decide to use faster chips, it might not be possible within the same form-factor. I have a gut-feeling that they'd need as lightly better memory controller, although it's really hard to say. I know that they won't push a product out if it winds up to big (which is why they never released their FireWire-based thumb drive), so it's hard to know for sure.

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Rob, I gotta agree a NAS simplifies things greatly... especially if you set it up to be accessible when on the go. I was a complete slob when it came to file organization, now at least I'm only a half-slob about it.
Haha. I admit I'm really picky about my file organization, and perhaps a little obsessive, but the NAS is one of the best devices ever invented. I whined before about how I lost my music collection because of a hard drive failure... the ONLY reason I didn't back it up to the NAS was because I had it in RAID 1 mode, because what was on there already, was a little more important than music. I really should have picked up a new HDD long ago... I reverted the NAS to RAID 0, so I can actually keep the entire music collection there as well. Redundancy for the win.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kougar View Post
Supposedly USB 3.0 is set to be released early 2009, but not start showing up in mainstream boards until 2010... I could always be wrong though. It will bring 600MB/s speeds... almost on par with the unreleased SATA 600MB/s spec.
It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. If thumb drives really could be as fast as hard drives, then that's quite amazing. I'm not sure it will happen right away, given that the memory chips probably won't be "up to speed", but we'll see.
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Old 12-09-2008, 05:34 PM   #7
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I had thought it was the same memory chips as what goes into SSDs, just a much slower version? So theoretically some day we'll have thumb drives that run circles around mechanical hard drives., even if they still aren't as large a capacity. Again you're right though, the controller chip would need to be able to keep up, which would only add to the costs... It may or may not be another thing in USB's favor over eSATA thumb drives. At <$1 per GB for a thumb drive 16GB or smaller, cost is everything.
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Old 12-15-2008, 01:33 PM   #8
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Something that I only just now realized... to use this drive, wouldn't most computers need to be rebooted with the drive plugged in?

Only Vista, and only computers using ACHI selected in the BIOS support hot-plugging of SATA drives.
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kougar View Post
Something that I only just now realized... to use this drive, wouldn't most computers need to be rebooted with the drive plugged in?

Only Vista, and only computers using ACHI selected in the BIOS support hot-plugging of SATA drives.
Are you sure the same applies to eSATA, though? I thought the point of eSATA was to create the ability to hot-swap drives. I could be wrong, but that was my understanding.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:36 AM   #10
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Pretty sure there isn't any difference between them, the eSATA spec appears to call for shielding and significantly more durability, but I don't see any special hot-plugging features not already included in the SATA spec.

eSATA is just an external SATA port.. if you look at those motherboards that have an eSATA slot on the I/O panel, some borrow it directly from one of the regular SATA ports on the I/O hub. Gigabyte for example offers eSATA brackets that directly plug into internal SATA ports. Even those cases with eSATA ports use a regular SATA cable that plug into an internal SATA port.
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