April 25, 2005
SeriTek/1SEN2 External Dual Drive
Enclosure and Serial ATA PCI adapter Card
By David A. Saraceno
Apple's new G5 desktop architecture gave with one hand and took away with the other. While it brought significant processing speed to video professionals, there was only one additional internal SATA drive bay for data storage not much of a limitation when working with DV, for a glaring one for any other format. Curiously, firewire read/write speeds were also hamstringed when using PCI controllers, and several firmware updates have not improved on that issue. Non-DV editors were then forced to use more expensive options for data storage.
Fortunately, several key developers have responded with low cost, external SATA enclosures that house inexpensive, fast SATA drives. FirmTek, Sonnet, and systems configurator, MacGurus, among others, now offer external multi drive enclosures and PCI SATA cards with both external and internal SATA ports. The SeriTek/1SEN2 bundle, reviewed here, consists of a two-port external Serial ATA PCI adapter, and an external dual-bay enclosure. The product is easy to install, configure and use. Moreover, the overall package is emblematic of value, solid construction, and excellent workmanship.
The enclosure. The 1SEN2 enclosure measures 2.5"x4.75"x9.0" and includes a rubber base. The fit and finish of the enclosure and hot swappable hard drive trays are excellent one of the most impressive features of the product.
I attached two identical 250 GB Hitachi SATA drives to the trays using the four supplied screws, and each easily slid into each slot in the enclosure. The trays and fit of the enclosure aligned the backs of the drives to the proper power and SATA connectors. A set of plastic locking latches is included, together with two keys to lock the drives into the drive enclosure.
The back of the enclosure has two SATA connection ports, and on/off switch, and a connector for the DC power supply.
The power supply is the only complaint I have with this unit. It is configured as a power brick and cord combination with a connector to the enclosure reminiscent of small serial or S-video plug. The connection was not as tight as I wished, although it didn't present a problem in operation.
The PCI card. The PCI SATA host adapter card installs in any PCI-X or PCI slot, and is compatible with all PowerMac G3, G4 & G5 computers. SeriTek recommends installation in the top slot of shipping G5s, which is the 64-bit, 133 MHz slot. I also installed it on the third slot, and did not detect any measurable performance differences between these alternative install positions.
Installation is consistent with any PCI card. Remove the PCI cover plate and screen, and gently place the card in the available slot. Installation into the top PCI-X slot was more difficult due to a space issue with the G5's latch hinge. Once installed, attach the included high quality SATA cables to enclosure and PCI card, and turn on the unit.
I configured the two drive, 500 Gb Hitachi RAID using Apple's disk utility, and ran tests to compare throughput among it, a Wiebetech 80 Gb 8Mb buffer 2.5-inch bus-powered firewire drive, and a Hitachi 250 GB SATA drive installed in the second bay. As for throughput, Drive Genius reports the following:
The Seritek 1SEN2 bundle remains an excellent, high quality value for external SATA drive access. It is a hot swappable, bootable and inexpensive two-drive solution that meets and exceeds throughput requirements for just about every standard definition capture configuration.
Although I used two identical 250 GB Hitachi SATA mechanisms, the enclosure can be configured up to 1 terabyte of storage once those drives become available.
Copyright ©2005 David A. Saraceno
David A. Saraceno is a motion graphics artist located in Spokane, Washington. He has written for DV Magazine, AV Video, MacHome Journal, and several state and national legal technology magazines. David also moderates several forums on 2-pop.com
This article first appeared on lafcpug and is reprinted here with permission.
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