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FireWire card reader beats SCSI, USB  
Thursday, July 20, 2000 | by
Notes on card reader testing for the article FireWire card beats SCSI, USB.
  • All Mac testing was performed on a Powerbook G3/500 with 256MB of RAM and OS 9.0.4, with one exception: the Mac testing of the Microtech Digital Photo Album *p was done with the reader mated to a Mac G3/400 with 256 MB of RAM and OS 9.0.4.

  • Two SCSI host adapter cards were tested in the G3/400, to try and cure the Microtech reader's slow Flash RAM performance: an Adaptec 2906 and Initio Miles INI-9100UW. Results were identical with each SCSI card.

  • The latest version of Apple's FireWire extensions, v2.4, was installed.

  • PC testing was performed on a 466mhz HP Pavilion 6535 with 128MB of RAM and an Adaptec 2930U SCSI host adapter card. It was running Windows 98 Second Edition. There's a slim possibility that Windows 2000 would have improved file transfer times, but this was not tested.

  • Several of the readers tested needed their own drivers; drivers for any other USB, FireWire or SCSI devices were disabled to prevent conflicts from skewing the results.

  • Only the reader being tested was connected to the computer, with the exception of the Microtech Digital Photo Album *p when the Initio Miles INI-9100UW card was installed. It was daisy-chained through a SCSI CD-R writer.

  • Each card was low-level formatted, repartitioned and high-level formatted before testing, to ensure that corrupt formatting didn't impact test results.

  • I experienced several deal-stopping errors with the Sandisk 128MB card during testing. With the Microtech USB CameraMate and Delkin eFilm Reader-2 I was unable to complete the copy of a single file without an error message appearing. A similar problem occurred when the Sandisk card was in the D1 set to PC. The same card refused to mount altogether in the Powerbook's card slot. Reformatting the card, as well as trying it in the Microtech USB CameraMate connected to another Mac, didn't help. This card is going back to Sandisk. Because of these difficulties, the results from the Sandisk card in the readers in which it did function could be in question. I've included them anyway, since they didn't seem to be out of line.

  • The microdrive's PC Card adapter was used for read speed tests in the Powerbook card slot and Microtech Digital Photo Album *p.
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