Friday, January 15, 2010

How many USB devices is too many?

Why would anyone need thirteen USB ports on a hub?  Why wouldn't they!

Let's start with an inventory of what's on my desk.  First, I use a Dell laptop with a Dell docking station.  This docking station has 4 Hi-Speed USB ports (one Powered USB, a feature which I don't use...yet). 

My Dell runs hot sometimes, so it's sitting on top of a Notebook Cooling Pad (that's 1 port).  I of course have a Laser Mouse and a Multimedia Keyboard (2 ports).  I have a webcam (1 port) and a special numeric keypad (1 port) for when I'm doing a lot of spreadsheet work.  I've already used up the four ports on my docking station, so I have to buy a 7port Hi-Speed USB Hub - which of course takes up one port.  I now have 10 ports but 6 are used.
I also have a second monitor which is connected via a USB-SVGA Converter (1 port).  I have an external Hard Drive (1 port) because I never delete anything…ever.  I have a set of USB Speakers (1 port) which sound great and a USB Skype Phone for calling all of my friends around the world (there are more than you would think, and that's another 1 port).  Add in a card reader for getting the photos off of my digital camera (1 port) and onto the aforementioned external hard drive and you're at a total of 12 devices plugged into my 10 ports.  Uh-oh, I need to buy another hub.   

Oh, and I recently purchased a business card reader, which I am having tons of fun with.  Another 1 port.

I have a lot of portable devices that need charging.  Rather than plug and unplug all of those cables I've got an octopus of cables wrapped in a cable cover with open connectors for my iPod Nano, Bluetooth Stereo Headset, and Bluetooth earpiece

I've counted 16 devices on my desk, which exactly uses the 4 ports on my docking station plus my 13 port hub.  I may not be the average user but I'm sure I'm not alone in this insanity. I'd much rather have just one hub connected to all of this than two 7port hubs, or worse five 4port hubs. It costs less, makes for a cleaner installation, and will be more reliable. 

There is a reason that the USB Implementers Forum designed USB to run up to 127 devices.  I just didn't know they did it with me in mind.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SATA 6 Gb/s - The Need for Speed

The Serial ATA International Organization has released the next generation of SATA standards. The new SATA standard has upped the ante for speed and is now capable of reaching throughput speeds of up to 6 Gb/s. While many technologies may not be able to take full advantage of the speed, there are a few that are able to utilize this speed to achieve optimal performance. SSDs (Solid State Drives) are one technology that is finding the new SATA standards a boost to their performance.

What is SSD?
SSD, or Solid State Drive, is the newest generation for hard drive technology. SSDs are essentially specialized memory sticks. They utilize a special kind of memory chip with erasable, writeable cells that can hold data even when powered off. It uses a cache that saves commonly accessed information which allows for increased responsiveness and speed.  There are no moving parts, so Solid State Drives are quiet, produce low heat, require less power, and are not prone to mechanical failure or damage. 
How is SSD different from a traditional hard drive?
Traditional drives use magnetic disks, or platters, that are spun by a motor. A read/write head then moves across the platters to read or write information. Speeds of these drives were limited by how fast the motors could spin the drive, how fast the read/write head could move across the disks and how fragmented the information on the drive was. Traditional drives could rarely utilize the SATA 3 Gb/s standard, let alone the increased speed that SATA 6 Gb/s offers. Traditional drives also generate far more heat than Solid State Drives, create more noise and are more prone to failure.

What does SSD have to do with SATA 6 Gb/s?
Many SSDs have surpassed the throughput provided by SATA 3 Gb/s standards. By combining these Solid State Drives and the SATA 6 Gb/s standards, more efficiency and speed can be realized by the user. While traditional drives are held back by the nature of their design, SSDs can utilize more throughput of the SATA 6 Gb/s design. By raising the bar for throughput, innovations will be created that will increase the speeds of SSD Drives, allowing them to use more of the 6 Gb/s bandwidth provided. More builders are using SSD drives to increase the system speed. SSD drives have speeds up to 3 times, or more, faster than traditional drives.

Speed is going to be one of the major factors for future development of storage. Currently only SSD can push past the 3 Gb/s throughput of SATA and take advantage of the 6 Gb/s speeds of the new SATA standards. SSD developers have been utilizing this speed advantage and are pushing development of even faster transfers. SATA 6 Gb/s is the only technology that is going to be able to keep up with the demands that future generations of SSD drives will require. Expect to see more SSD manufactures start reducing prices and pushing for higher speeds. MANHATTAN provides the latest SATA 6 Gb/s controllers to meet the needs of this fast moving industry.