today introduced today its new Spark II Pro hard disk drive. The new 2.5-inch drive supports both FireWire and USB interfaces. According to FirewireDirect, the Spark II Pro is the first drive to feature both FireWire and USB 2.0 compatibility (other combo drives support FireWire and the slower USB 1.1 standard).
Although USB 2.0 is not yet available as a factory-installed Mac feature, some third-party manufacturers have introduced PCI-based USB 2.0 expansion cards that work with Mac OS X. USB 2.0 is a faster version of the Universal Serial Bus standard that operates at speeds comparable to FireWire. The USB 2.0 standard is downwardly compatible with USB 1.1 as well, so if you hook this drive to the native USB interface on your Mac it will work, albeit at USB 1.1’s slower speed.
FirewireDirect noted that the drive uses the Oxford 911 ATA-100 chipset, which it said provide “the fastest possible throughputs” for FireWire-based peripherals. The company uses the 911 bridge board throughout its FireWire products.
The Spark II Pro combo drive will ship in 10, 20 and 30GB configurations, with prices ranging from US$219 to $389 depending on capacity. It will ship with both USB and FireWire cables and a 110-240V AC power supply. If you have your own drive mechanism you’d like to build out as an external drive, FirewireDirect will also sell you the Spark II Pro enclosure separately for $139.