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TB - eSATA with Port Multiplier Needed

6406 Views 30 Replies Latest reply: Jan 20, 2014 1:57 PM by MiBolsa RSS
  • taiyodayo Calculating status...
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    Feb 6, 2013 1:59 AM (in response to Vmanjeff)

    I'm on a same boat! Why aren't there any simple and elegant solution that supports port multiplier?


    Planning to setup a mac mini server, using a eSATA enclosure for storage.


    Has anyone found any conclusive answer to Thunderbolt - eSATA bridge?

    Looking into sonnet Echo Express, but since that will make everything so bulky it just isn't aesthetically pleasing.

  • smallisland Calculating status...
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    Feb 8, 2013 10:58 PM (in response to Kevin J. Doyle)

    I know this is an older discussion but I may have at least a workable solution in case you or others are still looking.


    I too have been frustrated with the slow pace at which thunderbolt hardware has been released and at the lack of dual port devices. I think this is finally going to change for the better by the end of 2013. From my contact with a few different vendors, including Atto and OWC, part of the problem has been a rather slow thunderbolt certification process that manufacturers have to go through for each product.


    I think apple should have at least released a daisy chainable GbE thunderbolt adapter with their last batch of laptops. That has been my biggest frustration with the MacBook air. I thought the Matrox DS1 might be a solution but it too is a one port device which also lacks eSata. At least it has more than one function.


    In the mean time, I have been using a USB 3.0 esata adapter from Datoptic. It is the only USB 3.0 adapter that I know of currently that has Port Multiplier capability. It is listed as the U3esata and can be found on their website or on Amazon for less than $30. I have used it with 2 different windows 7 machines and a MacBook Air with better than expected results but don't expect thunderbolt or sata iii speeds. A little faster than firewire for me on the Mac side and it seems just a little slower than my Sonnet Tempo Pro card on an older 2008 mbp. I have not benchmarked anything though and I did not use both devices on the same computer since they lack the proper interfaces. I actually bought a second one since it is so convenient. If you need help with the adapter Sam at Datoptic can probably help you get things going. I was surprised when I called about a separate product and he answered right away and was very friendly. Unlike every experience I have ever had with Sonnet, who have been rude and only semi helpful over the years.


    The next cheapest solution I have found for port multiplier involves a thunderbolt compatible sata pcie controller card with PM capability and one of the current thunderbolt to pcie boxes (avoiding Sonnet of course since I stopped buying their products due to the rudeness even though I like the Tempo express34 pro card I have).  The cost for this type of solution starts around $530 depending on the card and the number of pcie slots in the expansion chassis.


    As you can see, even for a temporary solution until the next batch of better Thunderbolt solutions arrive, $30 is hard to beat.


    Glad you mentioned Softraid. I also think it works wells and they have friendly support via email too. I like the disk certification process they added a while back. Nice to stress those disks a little before putting them into service and the return window expires. On my Windows machines I like HDsentinel for disk certification and testing. I have not tried the U3esata adapter with SoftRaid but I don't see any reason it wouldn't work once your system sees the disks.


    Hope someone finds this information useful.



  • smallisland Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 8, 2013 11:56 PM (in response to Kevin J. Doyle)

    Forgot to mention that if you head over to Datoptics site, check out the thunderbolt tab for a familiar looking thunderbolt to pcie solution (think other world) preloaded with a new PM esata card. I just checked and it looks like it is available for $100 less than I said the cheapest solution was in my last post. And it says it will support the new Marvell 6gbs Port Multipliers (when they finally show up this year I assume). Not sure what controller they are using but if you call Sam I am sure he can tell you.


    I am not affiliated with any of the companies I mentioned but I do work in the tech field.


    Now if only the 3 slot solutions will start to decrease in price...



  • Vmanjeff Calculating status...
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    Feb 12, 2013 1:16 PM (in response to smallisland)

    WOW!  That unit from DATA Optics looks just like the OWC one.... So one Co is getting them from the other Co.....  I was just about to pull the trigger and go with the OWC Thunderbolt Helios and the Sonnet 4 eSATA card...


      So the million dollar question is... Which SATA card is DATA Optics using??  From what I saw the price is about $100 more than OWC but includes the SATA card....  This will be the deal breaker for me.  I looked over their site but none of their SATA cards has an over/under configuration for 4 eSATA ports??


    BTW - After further review and info grathering I have decided to not go the Adonics route as my previous post from page one...sorry...

  • chandra.1 Calculating status...
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    Mar 4, 2013 8:15 PM (in response to Vmanjeff)
    So the million dollar question is... Which SATA card is DATA Optics using??  From what I saw the price is about $100 more than OWC but includes the SATA card....  This will be the deal breaker for me.  I looked over their site but none of their SATA cards has an over/under configuration for 4 eSATA ports??

    I find the DAT Optic (DAT not DATA, and Optic not Optics; you let yourself get sloppy) part to be questionable.  "Support JBOD up to 7 drives when combines with Port Multiplier eSATA."  Since each PM port supports 5 drives (per eSATA standard), that means that only 1 of the 4 ports supports PM and the other 3 do not.  Even then we have a drive missing (should be 8 drives supported).  Anyway the point is that this is only going to work for a 4 or (maybe 5) drive JBOD, not an 8+ drive enclosure, and not more enclosures.


    So this device would not work for the OP.


    What I found that would work is the Sonnet Tech E2P.  That supports 10 drives through 2 eSATA PM ports.  Then of course you need the Thunderbolt PCIe chassis.  The E2P is only $50 MSRP from Sonnet Tech directly, so the total solution is $450.  However it "only" works at 3Gb/s.  I couldn't find a 6Gb/s solution.


    Alternatively, as the OP pointed out intially, use the EC/34 TB adapter and the EC/34 eSATA PM card.  However that only has 1 TB port.  Also this is much slower than the PCIe solution.  From Sonnet Tech: "Tempo SATA ExpressCard/34 can sustain read and write speeds to a single SATA drive of up to 125 Mb/sec, about four times as fast as USB 2.0."  This is a typo however, the actual data rate is 125MB/sec.  (B not b).  The "Pro" version of the card does 200MB/sec.


    It also has the convenience of not requiring another power brick.  For the OP, the speed is obviously not a problem as he was already using this card prior.

  • chandra.1 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 4, 2013 9:12 PM (in response to chandra.1)

    Performance update: The E2P card only does about 110-125MB/s (ie it can't do full SATAII bandwidth).  So the EC/34 is actually more performant.

  • Vmanjeff Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 5, 2013 2:51 AM (in response to chandra.1)

    Yea... I got sloppy. Apologies to all ... "DATOptic".. 

    I called them and spent much time on the phone with Sam, resident guru on the OWC Helios Thunderbolt box and DATOptics eSATA solution. Enough time that I was convinced this would work with my setup. He led me around their website to the links to their card and backplate. The exact pages eludes me here but when I get to a computer I can be more specific if you like. The backplate is (was since when I got the unit the backplate configuration was different, still 4 ports though) on their site as a backplate extension. I spent much time on a midshift searching from the supplied pics and Sam led me to that. So the eSATA card would then be a card with 4 internal cable plugins. The actual card is not on their site (or any other site) but an SAS version of the card is. This concerned me but I felt the pre-shipping price was acceptable to me so I made my purchase and have the DATOptic Thunderbolt eSATA box in my system at this point! I will post a more detailed description with speeds this evening. But as of now I have a Sans Digital RAID5 box and a Bluray burner connected to it and will have a Sans Digital PM box connected today.

  • Vmanjeff Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 6, 2013 5:57 AM (in response to Kevin J. Doyle)

    Hi Kevin!  Thanks for getting back to this and going through your trials and tribulations! It was a healp to me, even though I am one of those video guys...!

      The whole thread has been informative.


      Just a quick reply to you and to my precious post ....  The PM BOX I was going to report on as to how it works with the DATOptic/OWC eSATA box arrived too late last night for a complete test so I will get things together over then next couple days and post... Although I might want to start a new thread in a video forum if you guys think i should??!

      I need to call DATOptic with some questions first and flesh out some issues I seem to be having.


    One question for Kevin is... What is it about the Sans Digital 5 disc RAID chip that you do not like? Please explain if you can because this is the unit I have plugged in right now running RAID5. I am primarily concerned with keeping all my DV, AVCHD and HDV video safe and secondarily concerned with drive speed for editing. Currently my entire family history resides on the RAID5 box and is also backed up to the new 4 disk PM box. Maybe overkill as I still have the DV tapes but I just feel better doing this.

      And, do you want to sell your 'old' 5 disk box? What model number is it specifically? (if it is the same as the one I have given the DATOptic enclosure card can do RAID10 or 1+0 and I am considering bypassing the onboard RAID on the Sans box and using 2 like enclosures) I know I can just get another box without onboard RAID but thought I'd ask...


      It seems the more I learn about RAID, PM, enclosures, etc., the more questions I have and the more I DON'T know!!

  • Vmanjeff Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 6, 2013 10:48 AM (in response to Kevin J. Doyle)

    Well, so much for getting another box for cheap.... JK..


    And thank you for your detailed response.  Having a finite budget led to the choices I have made. All my video production, at this time is for personal use and even though I toy with getting back into the business, I am comfortable with my Govmn't job until retirement (4 more years!0... Sequestration not withstanding!!??


      So what I determined to work best (for now) was to use a RAID5 for all my personal video and keep a back-up on independant disks so in the future, should I have the option to build a better back-up solution I can dump the RAID5 and go from there. My thought was also to use the RAID5 array for editing as a compromise.


    Your input is invaluable as I trudge through the minefield as videographer, editor, network admin, computer nerd, and now eSATA student. I left Video Production with Betamax and DV and re-enter with HD and codecs and bitrates, oh my! All my work is done on from a 17' MacBookPro through a Thunderbolt monitor to a Matrox MX02 HD Video interface. I initially dove back into the game and edited AVCHD and HDV video from 2 BlacX Dual eSATA/USB 2.0 enclosures to an Apiotek Expresscard34 eSATA card (PM aware) and while this provided enough bandwidth for DV it is not suitable for HD video (AVCHD, Converted AVCHD or HDV!) But this is all I had. It worked with many nice little beachballs as my timelines became more complex (see  or )  These are two examples of my work for friends and family.


    So I get the oppurtunity to upgrade my storage ability and I first choose the RAID5 enclosure as the best compromise between cost, back-up and editing. Then I now see that quite possibily RAID 10 or even JBOD with multiple back-ups would be better for my valued family history. Or as I discuss this with you and others I will see another path. I understand nothing lasts forever and my goal is to get all this video onto DVD or Bluray disks in the hopes it might last at least until my children throw it away :-)

      But good, reliable information is somewhat hard to come by and it is still a personal choice as to what direction one goes.

    Since my first priority as of now was getting all the DV video onto harddrives I think I have accomplished this, RAID whatever. I spent the last 2 months digitizing footage and have it available and backed up.  NOW I can address my video editing requirements as you set out above and, if necessary, purchase another enclosure and set it up as a striped array or other. I mentioned RAID 10 because it seems the best move forward from what I have (add to exhisting) ratherr than starting all over.


    The reason for the DATOptic/Helios Thunderbolt Hub was based on conversations with DATOptic and internet research as my initial thought was to have several "boxes" connected with differing configurations. Four connections, more boxes! This might have been wrong thinking for me at this point as I am coming to the conclusion that the included card only supports one port multiplier box but will set-up several RAID configurations, and accomodate my Bluray burner, at the same time. I also have a LaCie Thunderbolt Hub that was used for the Bluray player and I had hoped to use it for an external box but there are mixed reviews as to it working or not with PM and/or RAID enclosures.

    Now I stumble on a post that talks about Frame Based Switching (FBS/FIS) and Command Based Switching (CBS) which is interesting given the LaCie's mixed reviews. And I found out late last night that the PM enclosure I just received DOES work with the LaCie but Not with the DATOptic.... Strange, but I suspect the DATOptic solution sees my current RAID5 enclosure as a PM Box and it seems to only support 1 PM. 


    So I continue to learn.....


    Thanks again for responding and I will 'digest' it further over the next day or two!

  • Roman Gorchakov Calculating status...
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    Apr 28, 2013 9:00 AM (in response to Kevin J. Doyle)



    I understand you may not be the right person who I have to ask about this, but since everyone I ask doesn't have a f clue your're my last resort )


    I have an eSATA box with multiple drives. When I connect it to my Mac mini (2012, i7) via eSATA>USB3 or eSATA>TB adapter, OS sees only first drive, so it looks like there's no port multiplier support in both USB3 and TB adapters. And I tried two USB3 adapters, one is NewerTech, another one claims to have PM support as stated on seller's website


    I went to a geek guy just to check, connected it via eSATA>eSATA to his Hackintosh (no Macs at his home) machine -- no luck, just one drive. Then he restared his computer in Windows (7 or 8) -- yep! Port Multipler worked, OS mounted all drives. Then we connected the box via those eSATA>USB3 adapters -- no luck again, first drive only.


    I guess you now have a lot of experience with USB 3 regarding port multiplier technology, thanks in advance for helping me with this )



  • MiBolsa Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jan 15, 2014 7:20 PM (in response to Kevin J. Doyle)

    Instead searching for TB to eSATA support PM adapter...

    I get this USB3.0 adapter for my eSATA box


    End of search TB to eSATA for my new MAC


    But if you want a TB to JBOD you can use these:

    or C/

  • daikambu65 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 15, 2014 8:29 PM (in response to MiBolsa)

    You can buy those kinds of adapters from OWC. There is a problem finding them on their website. I just bought a eSata to USB 3 adapter and had to telephone them. Couldn't find it on their website.


    Go to:


    They are located in Michigan.

  • MiBolsa Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 16, 2014 9:32 AM (in response to daikambu65)

    and tml


    DATOptic's USB3.0 supports Port Mutiplier eSATA box, MAC system can see up to 5x drives with a USB3.0 connection, where OWC can not


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