iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail







September 5, 2001

A couple of years ago a user who often dealt with carrying of data from one computer to another could make use of a hard disc connected via a USB port. Why USB? At that time there was no other interfaces for hot connection of devices. One of the most advantageous variants could be a 2.5" hard disc connected via an IDE-USB adapter and powered from a USB bus.

But the developers of this bus provided each port with only 500 mA. For a 2.5" hard disc consuming +5V it was insufficient. The problem was that the peak load at the start reached 1A. And of course, a USB port couldn't provide with such power. But not all models faced that problem. For example, Toshiba hard discs installed in such computers as Libretto worked flawlessly in such conditions. However, there were many other attempts to find a way out. And now many companies offer portable hard disc which are much larger in size and consume much less energy. One of the devices almost lacking for disadvantages is the ZIV model from Hyundai Co.



  • HDD size: 6 GBytes/10 GBytes/15 GBytes/20 GBytes
  • Interface: USB (Universal Serial Bus)
  • Dimensions: 118 x 72 x 11 mm
  • Weight: 127g (including the HDD)
  • USB cable length: 900mm
  • Data rate: up to 1.5 MBytes/sec

The device looks stylish but simple. It, in fact, is based on a 2.5" hard disc of 6/10/15/20 GBytes. We had a 10 GBytes disc from Fujitsu - MHM2100AT.

The IDE connectors of the hard disc are linked with a tiny board with an IDE-USB adapter.

A power supply connector is integrated into the IDE connector of the 2.5" hard disc. The IDE-USB board is just inserted between two rows of IDE pins so that its contact plates coincide with the pins of the connector. If you want to mount a hard disc into this case it will be easy to do. The hard disc and a USB-IDE adapter are located in a thin rigid case of an aluminum alloy. Such an aluminum skin protects the disc from negative external factors.

Although the hard disc for a notebook is designed so that it may work in severe conditions, I'd like it to have some kind of a damping suspender inside. But the compactness didn't allow it. The interface part includes a USB connector inside, a power switch and a LED for indicating the status.

In order to make the device as miniature as possible the developers used a Mini-Usb connector which is mainly used in digital cameras and Mp3 players. The LED has 7 modes to provide the user with the thorough information about the device.

The disc ships with two interface cables - USB and USB combined with a power cable which can be connected to the PS/2 keyboard connector. The second disc will be useful if the USB port can't provide the hard disc with sufficient power.

Unfortunately, the cable coming from the connection point of USB and Power is too short.

The drivers ship on a mini CD. This is a very pleasant disc but makes too much noise.


The installation procedure is very simple. You are only to connect the disc with a cable, to switch it on and the system will immediately find a new device. But after that the system didn't start looking for drivers on a CD. As I found out, the IDE-USB adapter has a chip from In-System. Some time ago I tested some similar USB devices with an identical IDE-USB converter. And the system decided that we had installed a similar device. Nevertheless, the device was ready to work. But I still installed the drivers from the CD. According to the instructions the device must be marked as Removable, otherwise you might get a blue screen of death when disabling it. In the system tray you will see an icon for a safe disabling (since there can be some data stuck in the cache of the device). Here you can see how the disc is marked in the system registry.


As usual, we paid the greatest attention to the Hot Swap functions. There were almost no problems. We tried to connect the disc to several computers based on different chipsets. The problem of non-identification was solved by reswitching the device. Another problem occurred was lack of power supply. So, we had to use the cable with additional power supply. But this problem was on account of mainboard makers which didn't supply the USB bus with sufficient power. The operability was tested with the Winbench99 program. For comparative analyses we used the results of the disc connected with a similar USB-IDE adapter from Skymaster with the latest drivers (ver 5.02) from In-System.


  ZIV Skymaster
Transfer Rate Begin 977 KBytes/s 920 KBytes/s
Transfer Rate End 985 KBytes/s 925 KBytes/s
Disk Access Time 29.3 ms 28.1 ms
CPU Utilization 7.81% 7.22%

The ZIV has the best results among all similar USB-IDE devices I tested. In fact, the result is very close to the USB bus bandwidth. Look, for example, at the scores of the Disk Stor. The complete test took 3 hours and here is what I has got.

After that I carried out 2 tests of a data copying speed: with a big file ~520 MBytes and with a number of small ones (4000 files of 190 MBytes).

  1 520 MBytes file 4000 files of 190 MBytes
ZIV 11min 01s 11min 45s
Skymaster 11min 34s 12min 05s

The ZIV nudges out its competitor. The speed suffices for listening to MP3 and watching MP4 movies. The noiseless ZiV doesn't warm up significantly. The only drawback is lack of a cover. Besides, the paint of the case will fast go off.


The ZiV drive is a simple and convenient device. This is the most functional drive for carrying data from one computer to another. But I think the size of 10 GBytes is too much; and 5 GBytes or even 2 GBytes will be more than enough. Unfortunately, you have always to take a CD with drivers with you in case the PC you are connecting the drive to has never dealt before with a ZIV drive. But if a loading from USB storage devices on the BIOS level becomes possible one day, drivers for such devices will be included into the set of main operating systems.

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