LaCie Announces FireWire Hard Drives Which Bypass Some Performance Bottlenecks

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LaCie has announced new FireWire hard drives that take an interesting approach to overcoming the limitation of non-native FireWire controllers. The company is using a dual chip bridge with a single controller to provide what it says is 35MB/s sustained and 50MB/s burst throughput rates. From LaCie:

LaCie announced today that it is equipping its FireWire hard drives with a new FireWire controller that provides double the data throughput performance of previous FireWire drives. Available in 20GB, 40GB, 60GB and 75GB capacities, the 7200 rpm drives stream data to the computer at a sustained transfer rate of 35MB/s and provide burst performance to 50MB/s. Ideal for storing, exchanging and working on large files such as graphics, audio and digital videos, LaCieis new FireWire solutions eliminate quality and video frame loss.

Depending upon capacity, the compact 3.5" drives can store more than five hours of DV video, more than 100 CD-Audio images and more than a mile-high stack of text documents. The new drives can be quickly and easily connected to the native FireWire ports that are standard with Macintosh G3, G4 and iMac DV systems as well as PCs incorporating Windows 98 Second Edition or Windows 2000.

"The demand for high-capacity moveable hard drive storage has been overwhelming. Until now the biggest problem has been the performance bottleneck at the IDE drive and 1394 interface," said Scott Phillips, President of LaCie. "Users are aware of the quality of digital video and audio that can be edited and quickly transported with FireWire drives. With our new two-chip, single firmware interface design weive virtually eliminated the performance barrier by producing drives that can consistently deliver 35MB/s sustained data throughput to the computer. Twice as fast as the first-generation FireWire drives, the new hard drives open up the data pipe that todayis higher-performance video production and content development computers can handle. Simply stated, users wonit see any data, quality or frame loss anymore when they are using the new FireWire drives with their projects."

Fully ATA 100-compliant, LaCieis new FireWire to IDE bridge supports the Ultra DMA mode 5 used in todayis high-performance hard drives and operating systems including Mac OS, Mac OS X and Windows 98SE, Windows Me, Windows 2000. By enhancing the external 20GB, 40GB, 60GB and 75GB drives with a new built-in FireWire controller, LaCie provides users with a fast and efficient means of exchanging large files such as high-resolution photos and digital videos with no risk of data loss.

LaCieis new FireWire controller is a 400 Mbps interface that is based on a 1394 to IDE bridge dual chipset. The higher transfer rate of the latest-generation FireWire digital link makes the LaCie external hard drive ideal for users storing large-volume video and graphic files or capturing video from DV camcorders. The compact drives also provide content developers with added security because complete projects can be stored on the drives, removed and locked up when they are not being used.

Designed to match the performance of the leading FireWire or 1394-equipped computers, the new LaCie FireWire drives have been optimized to provide an access time of 8-9ms and a sustained transfer rate of up to 35 Mbytes per second (burst performance of 50MB/s). The drives have an enclosed, integrated universal power supply and two 6-pin IEEE-1394 connections. There is no need for any external power supplies.

The drives are priced as follows: US20GB - US$229, 40GB - US$279, 60GB - US$329 and 75GB -US$429. The drives come with a FireWire cable and an internal power supply. As of this writing, LaCie has not yet added more information on the products to its Web site.

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