Articles: Storage

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With only two products, Seagate has a smaller presence in this review compared to the previous one (see the article called Mega Roundup 3: Twenty One Hard Disk Drive with 160GB Storage Capacity for details). It’s not that we couldn’t find more Seagate HDDs of large capacities – Seagate just doesn’t produce such discs! (Yes, we are aware of the announced Barracuda 7200.8 series, but where are the actual products?)

The use of a two-platter design in the Barracuda 7200.7 series (a design that permits to install two platters at most) helped Seagate to save money on making drives of popular capacities. But at some moment it turned out that Seagate just had nothing to answer to the competitors with which were already selling 160GB and larger devices. We can imagine the indignation of Seagate’s OEM partners :). Finding itself on this Procrustean bed, Seagate was suffering Tantalus’ tortures, but they found a solution! The Seagate engineers just followed the recipe from ancient myths and “stretched” the platter to 100 gigabytes! This was the only way to reach the desired capacity of 200GB, keeping the old design at the same time.

Let’s see how it was done. The table below shows you the zone map (the distribution of the number of sectors per track into zones) of the 160GB and 200GB models from Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.7 series:

It’s perfectly clear that the extension of the platter from 80GB to 100GB was achieved not only through an increase of the number of tracks, but also through a consolidation of the tracks themselves: compare the amount of sectors per track in the highest-density zero zone!

If we were to consider the Sectors-per-Track values alone, we’d note that the platter in the 200GB drives has got four zones as an addition – the SPT value in the 4-th zone of the ST3200822A equals the SPT value in the zero zone of the ST3160023A drive. But it would be wrong to consider the SPT values only :).

Take note of the amount of cylinders in the zero and first zones of the ST3200822A – about 20 thousand cylinders of the disk have the maximum 1232 sectors-per-track density! Well, such a high data density should help Seagate’s drives in tests that demand a high linear read speed. As for the movements of the read/write heads, we can only say that Seagate continues its policy of dividing drives for “home” and “workstation” uses, which is common for the entire Barracuda 7200.7 series (see our article called Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 Hard Disk Drive Family for details). In other words, the heads of the ST3200822A are slowed down for noiseless work, while the ST3200822AS, on the contrary, has fast heads for the maximum performance. You cannot control the Acoustic Management system of these drives, so you have to put up with it.

The question of support of Native Command Queuing technology by the ST3200822AS drive was long arguable, opinions dividing. Our attempts to “find” NCQ in our ST3200822AS sample bought in a retail shop were unsuccessful.

In fact, Seagate can anytime equip the ST3200822AS with an electronics board that supports Serial ATA II: Extensions to Serial ATA 1.0 Specification, as they did with the junior SATA models of the Barracuda 7200.7 series. But we think that Seagate will not do that. Why? Read the next table:

We think that Seagate will just force the ST3200822AS out of market, replacing it with the drive from the Barracuda 7200.8 line, because the latter has better characteristics and uses the standard components of the 7200.8 series.

As the result, Seagate’s product line-up will become complete – 7200.7 series drives will fill the low-end sector (the SATA models will be updated with new electronics), and the 7200.8 series will compete in the top-end sector.

So, for the better or for the worse, the ST3200822A/AS models have done their job and can leave now…

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