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Expansion Options from Sonnet

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 4
Column Tag: Review

Expansion Options from Sonnet

by MacTech Staff


One of the beautiful things about a PowerMac G4 is how expandable it is. Even more so than today's PowerMac G5s in some ways. The PowerMac G4 has an ample power supply, plenty of room for drives, and was designed that way in the beginning. With 5 drive slots in addition to the optical drive and floppy, there's a lot of room in there.

The problem is that, depending on the model, earlier PowerMac G4s do not natively support drives other than IDEs that are less than 128GB. Obviously, for a backup system, you'll want to take advantage of the larger drives that are available and economical today, and you have two choices as to how to go about doing this.

In addition, since this is a backup system, you may want to take your PowerMac G4 from 10/100 Ethernet to gigabit. Just throw in a PCI card and you'll have it. You can also make use of multiple Ethernet interfaces simultaneously, another handy setup for a backup system. Also, don't forget about IP over Firewire as another network connectivity option.

Modern ATA and SATA

The first way to increase the storage capacity of a G4 is to go with a more modern version of the ATA standard. With a PCI card you can put into your PowerMac G4, you can handle drives larger than 128GB. You can do this either with individual drives, or as a RAID setup.

The second way is to put Serial ATA (or SATA) drives into your PowerMac. They look very similar to the former ATA drives but both the power and the interface cabling (not to mention the interface itself) is different. SATA drives are what newer Macs (PowerMac G5's, iMacs, and Xserves). SATA has the benefit of being very economical and available in the larger sizes.

We'll take a look at interface cards for both of these options, but unless you have a specific need, or drives you are trying to support, we advise moving everything to SATA that you can.

Tempo RAID133

Tempo RAID133 is an ATA hardware RAID controller that can be used to connect high-performance ATA hard drives into Power Mac G3 or G4 to create fast hardware RAID volumes economically. Tempo RAID133 is compatible with Apple Power Macintosh G3 and G4, and it supports Mac OS 8.5 through 9.2.2, and OS X (which is obviously where we're focused). Tempo RAID133 supports Apple Drive Setup Utility (version 1.5 or later) or other third-party software for drive formatting, but also Mac OS X's Disk Utility.

Equipped with hardware RAID level 0 (striping), Tempo RAID133 supports up to two volumes (two ATA/IDE hard drives per volume, four drives total) of internal drives. Tempo RAID133 supports drive types including any ATA/IDE fixed media hard drive such as Ultra ATA/33, Ultra ATA/66, ATA/100, and ATA/133. Tempo RAID133 features onboard 32-bit PCI Bus Master and it supports drive protocols through ATA6. Tempo RAID133 offers data transfer rate of 133 MB/s per channel with Ultra ATA/133 and up to 133 MB/s in burst master cycle.

Tempo RAID133

Tempo RAID133's striping function provides significant performance gains over a single hard drive. The improvement makes Tempo RAID133 suitable for disk-intensive tasks such as multimedia authoring, image editing, and of course, our goal of backups. Tempo RAID133 utilizes onboard Open Firmware, which allows booting from attached drives to shorten start up times and speed Mac OS operation. The onboard firmware automatically recognizes and configures the drive type, in addition to 80-wire cable with Ultra ATA/66, ATA/100, and ATA/133 drives. It is backward compatible with ATA/33, ATA/66, and ATA/100, and is Flash-ROM upgradeable.

Advance features of Tempo RAID133 include coexistence with SCSI and onboard IDE devices, support for simultaneous operation of multiple cards, and CRC error checking ensuring data integrity with Ultra ATA/133 drives. Tempo RAID133 comes with 40-pin/80-wire IDE cables (two included; 80-wire cable required for full Ultra ATA/66, ATA/100, and ATA/133 support). The package also contains a quick start guide, power supply "Y" cable, and 8 hard drive mounting screws. Tempo RAID133 is priced at $149.95 and it is available with 3-year limited warranty.

We found this product to be a great experience. It's not only flexible in allowing you to work with different sizes and kinds of drives, but it's simple to install and works as advertised ... just as you would expect on the Mac.

Tempo Serial ATA and Tempo Serial ATA Cable Kit

Sonnet's Tempo Serial ATA PCI adapter card enables connection of Serial ATA (SATA) and parallel hard drives to older Macintosh computers. Tempo Serial ATA can be used to take advantage of SATA's higher data transfer rates and improved cabling performance. Tempo Serial ATA features 48-bit LBA support for drives larger than 128GB and support for mirroring and striping features of OS X. Tempo Serial ATA requires Mac OS 8.0 through 9.x, and Mac OS X version 10.2 or later. It supports Mac OS bootability from attached drives. Tempo Serial ATA runs on a 32 bit, 33/66MHz PCI bus and it is compatible with 32-bit PCI bus version 2.2 and hard drive or peripheral power connectors. The card comes with 2 internal Serial ATA interface connectors that each support up to 2 hard drives. Each port also offers data transfer rates of up to 150 Mbytes/second or burst data transfer rate of 1.5 Gbits/second. Drives modes supported by the product include Serial ATA, Ultra DMA modes 6/5/4/3/2/1/0, and PIO modes 4/3/2/1/0.

Tempo Serial ATA PCI Card

Advanced data features include compliance with the Serial ATA 1.0a specification, bus mastering that off-loads data I/O handling from the CPU, 32-bit CRC error checking for all bits transmitted (command, data and status), offering enhanced data protection for high-speed Serial ATA drives. It also sports dual independent data channels allowing separate device timings, automatic identification and configuration of drive types, and automatic detection and support for devices utilizing many transfer modes.

Amazingly, these cards can go in a wide variety of older systems even beyond the PowerMac G4 that we're focused on for this series of articles. Specifically, Tempo Serial ATA can be used with Mac compatible computers including Power Macintosh Series 4400, 6400, 6500, 7200, 7215, 7220, 7300, 7500, 7600, 8200, 8500, 8515, 8600, 9500, 9500/180MP, 9515, 9600, 9600/200MP; Macintosh Server G3, G4; Power Macintosh G3 All-in-one, Blue & White, Desktop, Minitower; Power Mac G4, Power Mac G5, Performa Series 6400, 6410, 6420; Workgroup Server 7250, 7350, 8550, 9650; Daystar Genesis and Millennium Series; Mactell XB-Pro; Power Computing PowerBase Desktop and Tower, PowerCenter, PowerCenter Pro Desktop and Minitower, PowerCurve, PowerTower, PowerTower Pro, PowerWave; StarMax 3000, 3000 Minitower, 4000, 4000 Minitower, 5000, 5500; and UMAX C500, C600, C600X, J700, S900. Phew!

Cooling in a PowerMac G4 works fairly well, but nevertheless, it's always good to know what these cards require for an operating environment. The operating temperature ranges of Tempo Serial ATA are 5 to 55 degrees C. The operating and non-operating relative humidity ranges are 20 to 80 % and 15 to 90 %. The package of this product contains Tempo Serial ATA 2-Port PCI controller card, quick start guide, 1 Serial ATA data interface cable (22 inches), 1 legacy-to-Serial ATA power cable, and drive mounting screws.

Tempo eSATA data cables are designed to connect a SATA host controller such as Sonnet's Tempo SATA E4P, Tempo SATA X4P, Tempo-X eSATA 4+4, or Tempo-X eSATA 8 to Serial ATA drive enclosures. The cables feature external Serial ATA (eSATA) connectors, equipped with springs similar to USB, designed for over 5,000 insertions and removals. They are equipped with extra shielding and metal contacts for better EMI protection Tempo eSATA data cables come in length of 1 meter and eSATA-to-eSATA, or eSATA-to-SATA I styles SATA-2/1 connects a host controller card with eSATA connectors to an external drive enclosure with SATA I connectors. SATA-2/2 connects a host controller card with eSATA connectors to an external drive enclosure with eSATA connectors.

Tempo Serial ATA is priced at $79.95 whereas Tempo eSATA data cable kit costs $24.95. Both products come with 3-year limited warranty.

Gigabit Ethernet

In our scenario, we not only wanted Internet backups to happen, but also faster gigabit Ethernet connectivity. By adding in a Sonnet Gigabit card, we were able to focus the LAN backups over the faster gigabit Ethernet interface, while letting the connectivity over the Internet go over the built-in Ethernet interface.

Presto Gigabit is a 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet PCI adapter card that is compatible with most PCI Power Macintosh configurations. Presto Gigabit is based on Sonnet's Simply Fast Design, making it easily installable. Presto Gigabit supports full and half-duplex communication and it features 1000/100/10BaseT auto-negotiation. Presto Gigabit features one RJ-45 connector that supports 1000Mbps, 100Mbps, 10Mbps network speed and Auto-MDI/MDI-X, and PCI V2.2/2.1, 32-bit, 66/33 MHz bus interface. Presto Gigabit supports IEEE 802.3 10BaseT, IEEE 802.3u 100BaseT, and IEEE 802.3ab 1000BaseT standards. Presto Gigabit supports transmission rates of 10Mbps/20Mbps, 100Mbps/200Mbps, and 1000Mbps/2000Mbps. The IRQ line and I/O addresses for Presto Gigabit are assigned by system.

Presto Gigabit

Like the Sonnet ATA and SATA cards, the Presto Gigabit can be used with a wide variety of computers similar to the other cards. Check the Sonnet web site for specifics on your model. Presto Gigabit is compatible with above listed Mac compatible computers running Mac OS X Version 10.2 or later. Presto Gigabit can also be used with Windows computers with available PCI slot, running on Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, or XP.

Presto Gigabit costs $89.95 and it comes with 3-year limited warranty.

MacTech Staff


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