Frank's Blog

Time Machine with FireWire 800 

A few days ago, my old 2.5" external HDD used for Time Machine died once again. So I decided to replace it with a robust (5 year warranty) My Book Studio Edition 500GB from Western Digital.

I selected this (a bit more expensive) model, since it had a FireWire 800 port. It came preconfigured for the Mac, formated with Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. Furthermore, it looks very Mac-stylish, especially with the white LCD-effects in front. It shuts down and powers up with the Mac (also in sleep mode). The device remains cool, but is a little louder than my Alu iMac. It will return to sleep mode, however, if not used for 10 minutes.

The whole thing was installed quickly, and my 80 gigs of stuff were backed up within an hour. This was also a reason why I decided against getting a Time Capsule from Apple. All the boards are full of discussions about slow speeds, blocking the internet access, and quite much heat produced.

Of course, I started up XBench and measured the performance using USB 2.0, FireWire 400, and FireWire 800. The 256K block performance is shown below:

The first two blocks show sequential write and read access with 256k blocks, whereas the last two blocks show random access. The vertical axis denotes the transfer speed in MB per second. As can easily be seen, USB 2.0 is quite close to FireWire 400. What can not be seen, however, is that USB produced much more CPU usage on a Mac. FireWire 800 is a good leap ahead.

The figure above shows the 4K block performance. The sequential writing of 4K blocks seems to be even faster than 256K blocks, with FireWire 800 leading once again. The results are closer for the last three blocks, obviously since the transfer speed is no longer an issue in this kind of benchmark.

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