Articles: Storage

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Every year the demand for high-speed hard disk drives keeps growing. Although not so long ago the 15,000rpm HDD market was completely dominated by Seagate, now the situation has become absolutely different. There are four HDD manufacturers in this market today, which are struggling really hard to become the king. The first ones to start looking for a market share there were Fujitsu and IBM. As we remember, Fujitsu MAM and IBM 36Z15 hard disk drives were pretty competitive products, so Seagate could no longer retain the monopoly in the 15K HDD market. However, Seagate’s position in this market is still pretty stable, especially since in the early 2003 Cheetah X15 36LP was replaced with a newcomer aka Cheetah 15K.3.

However, Seagate’s competitors didn’t keep their hands in pockets also. In spring 2003 Fujitsu released new MAS 15K drives of the second generation and Maxtor debuted with a new Atlas 15K HDD. IBM, however, quit the race having announced the division responsible for HDD development and distribution a separate company, which later merged with the HDD division of Hitachi Company. The new Hitachi Global Storage Technology Company continued selling old IBM and Hitachi drives under a new company name. They also announced a few new models, including a new 15K HDD aka UltraStar 15K73 on January 6, 2003. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get hold of the Hitachi drive, but the other three rivals are here, ready to go :)

The links below will lead you to detailed reviews of all three drives, which you might want to check out before reading on:

And in the meanwhile lets make up a short table comparing the major key features of the drives.


As you see, most parameters of these drives are identical: buffer size, maximum number of platters and heads. The differences lie in the average seek time and average track-to-track.

The curious thing is that Seagate HDD claims to have the highest average access time (3.6ms) and at the same time boasts the lowest track to track time. The shortest average seek time seems to belong to Maxtor drive, although the 3.2ms seek time is specified only for 18GB and 36GB models. The eldest 73GB model is supposed to have 3.4ms already! You probably wonder why I am paying so much attention to these parameters? Well, it is simple.

Once of the principles, which I have always tried to stick to when comparing HDDs performance, was to compare HDDs of the same storage capacity only. Because no matter what various sources will say, the size does matter. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet received the Maxtor Atlas 15K HDD featuring 73GB storage capacity, while the drives from Fujitsu and Seagate participating in our roundup will be exactly of this size. To my disappointment, I will hardly be able to get the desired Maxtor drive really soon, so we will have to put up with that and to compare large HDDs from Seagate and Fujitsu with a small but very fast Maxtor solution, which will not be quite fair to a certain extent.

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