Bus-powered storage devices have traditionally been limited by USB 2.0’s power delivery specifications. The 4.5W limit meant that only 2.5″
drives (typically with a spindle speed of 5400 RPM) could be placed behind a USB – SATA bridge. Last month, Seagate introduced the world’s first bus-powered desktop hard drive enclosure. The Innov8 8TB external hard drive uses a Seagate Archive HDD and comes with a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C interface. This review looks at the hardware design of the Innov8, followed by a look at some benchmark numbers and performance consistency test results.
The Innov8 works with Type-C hosts which advertise Power Delivery of 1.5A or higher. If the host does not advertise 1.5A or greater, the Innov8 will not spin up and will flash an error LED signal. Given that hard drives have spin-up power requirements that might be much higher than the quoted power numbers (7.5W for random reads in the Archive HDD) in the specifications, and USB ports typically have a hard limit on the power delivery aspect, Seagate’s design of the Innov8 is indeed worthy of detailed investigation. The Seagate Innov8 packaging is indicative of a premium product – a flip top box with a magnetic catch. Inside the package, we have the main unit – a 208mm x 123.6mm x 36mm aluminum enclosure weighing 1.5 kgs. It has six layers around the edges, as shown in the picture below. The feel in hand is quite solid, and the industrial design is praiseworthy.
The chassis has no visible screws on the outside, and four small rectangular rubber feet on one end is indicative of the side meant to be the base when placing the unit on a desk. The gallery below shows the various aspects of the chassis design and the placement of the USB 3.1 Type-C port.
Accessing the internals of the unit involves prying open the two sides of the chassis along the two middle layers on the side.
Opening up the chassis reveals a full metal shield with two exposed screws at the USB Type-C port end. These anchor the SATA – USB bridge board to the chassis frame. The screws fastening the Archive HDD to the metal shield are hidden by rubber bushings. The gallery below presents some teardown pictures.
Important internal components to note include the 8TB Archive HDD with a SATA interface (ST8000AS0002) having firmware version RT17 and the 12.0 Wh LiPo (lithium polymer) battery supplying 3.8 V with a 3162 mAh rating. Not pictured in the teardown gallery is the ASMedia ASM1153 USB 3.1 Gen 1 – SATA bridge chip.
The LiPo battery helps handle the spin-up power requirements and whenever the drive needs to consume power higher than whatever is delivered by the USB port. Seagate has helpfully created a marketing name for this battery usage technology – ‘Ignition Boost’. Note that the drive is only compatible with Type-C ports advertising at least 1.5A (7.5W). So, the battery is not needed most of the time. In addition, since the Archive HDD doesn’t need 7.5W throughout, the battery can get charged using the USB bus power at other times.
Author: Ganesh T