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-- by Marc Spiwak
Unless you possess the patience of Job, resolving the IRQ and DMA demands of a SCSI adapter and a sound card is a challenge you'd probably rather not face. Diamond Multimedia's new FirePort 40 PCI SCSI Adapter is a good choice for those who want fast performance without the hassle of resource conflicts.
The card works with the newest Ultra and Ultra-Wide SCSI devices, offering transfer rates of up to 40MB per second, according to Diamond. It's designed for Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, and includes DOS utilities for formatting, configuring and diagnosing hard drives. The FirePort 40 supports hundreds of SCSI devices, including CD-ROM, tape, removable, CD-Recordable, magneto-optical (MO), write-once, read-many (WORM) and optical disk drives, scanners and hard drives. The adapter is bundled with Elektroson's GEAR software for CD-R mastering, as well as utilities for SCSI device management.
Diamond Multimedia based the FirePort 40 on Symbios Logic's SYM53C875 Ultra SCSI I/O processor, with PCI Plug-and-Play installation. It uses the Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 mini-port driver architecture and has an active-termination design. The adapter has one 50-pin high-density external connector, one internal 50-pin ribbon connector and one internal 68-pin high-density connector to ensure compatibility with most devices. An
upgrade kit lets you connect virtually any combination of internal and external, wide and narrow devices. The FirePort supports up to 15 Ultra SCSI devices simultaneously. An included four-position cable allows you to connect up to three internal devices at one time.
The SCSI adapter was very easy to install under both Windows 95 and NT 4.0. We set it up in a dual-boot system and were able to use the adapter in both operating systems with various peripherals, including CD-ROM and CD-R drives and a removable-media MO drive. An UltraEasy Diagnostics program offers SCSI device management. The FirePort's jumperless design makes changing settings as easy as possible-you don't have to open your PC's case.
PCI is the connection of choice due to its greater bandwidth and PnP setup. The FirePort 40 even eliminated a problem with an ISA SCSI adapter in a system where the sound card was conflicting with its resources. Repeated efforts to configure the resources using Control Panel had proven fruitless. The Diamond PCI SCSI card installed and worked immediately-peripherals and all.
Since the FirePort 40 has only one SCSI channel, the dual-channel Mylex/BusLogic FlashPoint DL remains on our WinList as the best SCSI adapter for servers. However, the FirePort, with its speed, versatility and ease of installation, gets added to the list as a good, lower-cost alternative for workstations.