Articles: Storage

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The world is often evolving in what looks like a spiral. Here is an example from the hard disk drive market: on the previous turn of the spiral we compared 2-terabyte models with spindle rotation speed of 5400rpm but now we are going to study products whose platters are rotating at a higher speed.

Using its time-tested 5-platter design, Hitachi was the first to introduce such a model, the Deskstar 7K2000, reminding us of the situation with 1-terabyte HDDs two years ago. Then, the 5-platter design coupled with lower-density platters helped Hitachi be two or three months ahead of its opponents and offer a 1TB drive that had no alternatives. The opponents eventually joined the race, though, and offered 1 terabyte on three platters only, and Hitachi’s only argument was a very low, nearly dumping, price afterwards.

Hitachi’s opponents, in their turn, focused on polishing off 500GB platters by releasing 1-platter slim 500GB products such as the Seagate ST3500410AS/ST3500318AS, Samsung HD502HJ, and WD WD5000AAKS-00V1A0. These drives are a different story and should be left for another review, though.

The manufacturers having achieved a stable operation of a pack of 500GB platters, 4-platter HDDs rushed to the market. All of the makers, excluding Samsung which is not yet ready to produce a 4-platter desktop HDD, have decided that a large HDD needs a large cache buffer. The amount of 64 megabytes of cache memory, first implemented by WD in its WD2002FYPS, has become a de-facto standard as all new-generation HDDs are equipped with it. Seagate even went further and equipped its Barracuda XT with a SATA 6Gbps controller. Sounds nice, but there are very few mainboards available that support the new SATA specification as yet. Moreover, the speed of reading from platters has not yet even approached the peak bandwidth of the SATA 3Gbps standard. So, we don’t quite get Seagate’s point. Is it an attempt to outperform its opponents or a purely marketing move? Western Digital, on its part, does not hurry with the interface. Let’s see whose approach proves to be better.

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