updated 08:10 pm EDT, Mon August 22, 2011
Four dedicated USB 3.0 ports
Mac Pro accessory maker HighPoint Technologies is now offering a quad-port PCI-E 2.0 USB 3.0 RAID HBA called the RocketU designed specifically for Apple's high-end workstation. Each port is capable of the theoretical 5Gb per second performance for a combined theoretical throughput of 20Gb per second (real world use of USB 3.0 tends to be dramatically lower). The card supports both single disk and various RAID configurations including JBOD and RAIDs 0, 1, 5 and 10.
Like other USB 3.0 peripherals, the unit is hot-swappable and hot-pluggable, and is backward-compatible with USB 2 and USB 1.1 devices. Up to four hard-disk or solid-state drives are supported, and the device does not require drivers (the device provides a built-in web-based management interface for RAID and JBOD configuration).
USB 3.0, while substantially faster than its predecessor, routinely falls well short of its "10x faster" claims in real-world use. Users and independent testers report improvement in the rage of 2-3 times faster than USB 2 in normal use, with tests showing speeds of 50-100MB megabytes per second -- dramatically lower than the 600MB per second one should see from a five-gigabit raw connection. Other connection methods such as Firewire and Thunderbolt, whether they are slower or -- in the case of Thunderbolt -- significantly faster than USB 3.0 do tend to achieve much closer to their stated maximums in real-world use. Despite this, USB 3.0 is expected to become a standard port on computers over time, as it represents a substantial increase in speed from USB 2 but remains backward-compatible with it.
The card is not available directly from HighPoint but instead through distributors. Amazon currently has the card listed at $93.