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SATA Port Multipliers FAQ

We get a lot of questions about eSATA port multiplier solutions, so we thought we'd post a FAQ list to help provide answers to most questions people have. If there's something we are missing please let us know!

Q: What is a SATA port multiplier?
A SATA port multiplier is a bridge board that provides connectivity for up to five SATA hard drives through a single eSATA interface. All five hard drives share the bandwidth of the single-channel eSATA interface. It's a great low-cost solution for many applications ranging from regular file storage, backup, and even some video editing.

Q: Are SATA and eSATA the same thing?
eSATA simply refers to the external SATA connector (eSATA), whereas SATA refers to the hard drive specifically, or the internal connector which is SATA. The connector types are physically different. eSATA cables are for connecting external enclosures to controller cards. SATA cables are for connecting internal hard drives to a motherboard, or a bridge (port multiplier).

Q: Can we run RAID with our port multiplier setup?
Yes, that is simply a function of your controller card. If your controller supports RAID then you can run RAID on your setup. You may also run RAID in your OS if your controller card only supports JBOD (individual drives), but your OS must support that feature.

Q: Will any eSATA card work with a port multiplier enclosure?
No. You need to get a port multiplier compatible controller card. Many eSATA cards support port multipliers. Look at controller cards from HighPoint, Silicon Image and Marvell.

Q: Will a port multiplier solution work on my laptop eSATA connector?
No. Laptop eSATA connectors are not "PM-aware", and thus will only see the first drive in the port multiplier enclosure. Some older laptops can use Express Cards or PCMCIA cards which support port multipliers, but newer laptops without those slots would need to use an eSATA to USB3.0 adapter to see all of the drives.

Q: Do port multipliers support optical drives?
Yes, that's a feature of the controller card. You'll want a non-RAID controller for this. We recommend the ES6GPCIE22 controller as it's the fastest 6G eSATA card we've come across.

Q: What is the maximum cable length I can use?
The maximum cable length supported is 2m for an eSATA cable.

Q: What speeds can I expect from my port multiplier setup?
Depending on your controller card and RAID level, you can expect sequential read/write speeds of around 250-300MB/s.

Q: Do SATA port multipliers support SAS drives?
No. SAS drives are not supported or recognized by the eSATA controller and port multiplier.

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