Buffalo USB 3.0 PCI Express card
SuperSpeed drives and cards compared
Review In an age where the latest SuperSpeed USB 3.0 interface has yet to be officially supported by Intel, storage vendors in particular, are keen to build the best add-on PCI Express adapter card to take advantage of this fast connectivity.
SuperSpeed upgrade, anyone? Buffalo Tech's IFC-PCIE2U3
Currently, NEC’s USB 3.0 dual controller chip is pretty much the only option for two port cards. Buffalo’s inventively named IFC-PCIE2U3 is one such card and, given the chip choices, offers much the same as found in competing products. For around £40, you get two USB 3.0 ports thanks to the NEC D720200F1 controller which, until the likes of the Fresco FL1009 take hold, remains the dominant USB 3.0 controller.
Buffalo’s card is not the first I have used in my test rig. I have tried cards from Iomega and Western Digital, both NEC D720200F1-based. You might think that sharing a common controller would result in driver compatibility between cards, as was the case with the Iomega and Western Digital cards, as both use the same version of NEC’s driver However, Buffalo’s card is not compatible with the newer driver version.
Admittedly, not many will find themselves in this position, but using the Buffalo IFC-PCIE2U3 required a complete removal of all traces of USB 3.0 from my system before it could be installed successfully. Failure to do so resulted in a crippling of the IFC-PCIE2U3, causing it to operate solely in USB 2.0 mode.
Board design aside, there is only one feature difference among all three cards. This is the additional power input for running those power hungry bus-powered devices. Both Buffalo and Iomega’s offerings feature this input, but only Buffalo actually supplies an adapter to plug into a SATA power cable. Whether this powering option is really going to be necessary no doubt depends on the draw of the external device. Certainly, the ‘unpowered’ cards had no problems running a LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 drive.
Question, + @Paul
@Paul - I saw that too, I'd bet there's a connector in the packaging to connect the FDD to a SATA... maybe...
Does anyone know how well these cards work under Linux?
...as I remember correctly, carried the first usb ports on their system boards. They, of course, didn't work because Windows 95 didn't have proper drivers yet. There was a patch which allowed a few USB devices to be recognized. Then came USB 1.0 and Windows 95 sr2. Software for USB devices (mostly Logitech webcams) became widely accessible. Software faltered and devices crashed numerously. Compatibility? Humbug!
USB 1.1 was more stable and hardware manufacturers used this standard to build their USB chipsets. External hard drives caddies were adapted to the plug and play hierarchy. In came the USB flash-drives (then called thumb-drives. Whatever happened to the name?)
512Kb, 1Mb, 2Mb, 4Mb, 8Mb, 16Mb, 32Mb etc.... etc...
Back then it was compatibility. Now it is speed. Me?
I care about data. I don't care at what speed it is transferred. As long as I can use it when I want to.
Video, audio or data, I want it to be Plug and Play. I struggled with drivers, compatibility and, heck, even not knowing if my data was still secure after plugging my USB device in an open slot of an unsavory machine , but I want to leave that behind me.
I'd better stop worrying now and look at Cloud. Nice expression to be used here is; silver lining.
Re: Turn up the Power
USB 3.0 contains a set of USB 2.0 pins, but these run at the standard USB 2.0 specs because they're a standalone USB 2.0 bus that runs alongside the separate USB 3.0 connections.
Turn up the Power
I'm more worried about this disturbing trend to offer 2 or 3 times the power output on USB3 ports.
The pins on USB3 are the same size as USB2 and that offers 0.5A .
Now USB3 is suppose to offer 0.9A. But with cards and Mobos (see Gigabyte) offering 3 times that, how on earth is 2.7A (13.5W!) going to flow through that same pin? It beggars belief!
Expect USB3 to develop a reputation of smoke, fire and melted plastic.
"Buffalo actually supplies an adapter to plug into a SATA power cable"
Looks more like a fdd power connection to me ;-)