[wellylug] USB 3.0 via PCI-e, & SATA HDD enclosures/docks

Daniel Reurich daniel at centurion.net.nz
Tue Jul 5 13:42:07 NZST 2011

Hi David,

USB3 support is still a bit iffy in the Linux Kernel, and most of the
USB3-sata chipsets around seem pretty crappy.  I tried one a few months
back and it didn't allow pass through of SMART info (important for
monitoring the health of backup disks) and it didn't support greater
then 1.5TB harddisks.  (I'd poked a 3TB disk in it and it only showed up
as 800GB).

I'd stick with e-SATA because at least it's native ATA and as fast as
the controller/disk themselves allow.


On Tue, 2011-07-05 at 13:32 +1200, David Antliff wrote:
> Hello,
> Has anyone had any success with accessing an external SATA-2 or SATA-3
> HDD via USB 3.0 with Linux? If so, have you achieved real transfer
> rates in excess of what you'd get with USB 2.0?
> Specifically I'm looking to use an external HDD "dock", so I can
> quickly add & remove disks as part of an off-site backup system, but
> I'd settle for an enclosure if I have to (can always leave the lid off
> and use it like a dock). The host machine has no native USB 3.0
> support, although it does have a single 1x PCI-e slot that could be
> populated with a suitable PCI-Express USB 3.0 adapter. The set-up
> needs to be reliable, and of course it needs to work in Linux.
> Believe me when I say that I've spent a good few hours searching
> online for information on this. It seems that there's very little
> Linux-based information, even though Linux was heralded as being
> "first with USB 3.0 support" a few years ago. I've come across several
> enclosures and docks that state they are compatible with Linux 2.6.31
> or newer, but the only PCI-e card I've found with stated Linux support
> is this Astrotek one, with an NEC controller:
> http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=396140
> Also, there are quite a few external interfaces using the JMicron
> JMS539 chipset, which is reported to have serious issues (corruption,
> disconnection), especially when connected to an NEC controller. So
> I've been looking for LucidPort USB300 -based devices, such as
> StarTech.com, Plugable and Icy Box. Naturally none of these appear to
> be for sale in NZ, but that's not a huge problem in itself.
> So if anyone has any experiences with USB 3.0, I'd appreciate hearing
> about them please :)
> As a note, if necessary I can probably settle for USB 2.0, or perhaps
> eSATA, as fast I/O isn't a hard requirement. However when a backup
> might take 12 hours, a factor of 2 speed-up saves a significant amount
> of time! FireWire800 is perhaps another option as it's considerably
> faster than USB 2.0.
> -- David.
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Daniel Reurich.

Centurion Computer Technology (2005) Ltd
Mobile 021 797 722

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