Seagate Targets Consumers With 1-Terabyte Storage Drives

Hard disk drive (HDD) manufacturer Seagate unveiled Monday two 1 terabyte storage hard drives aimed at both enterprise and consumers users. The “first second-generation desktop and enterprise” Barracuda ES.2 and Barracuda 7200.11 1 HDDs will be available in the third quarter of 2007, the company said.

“The explosive growth of digital content in the home and office is driving demand for massive amounts of hard drive storage,” Seagate said. “Businesses and consumers are generating and consuming staggering volumes of digital content — from high-definition video, music, blogs and podcasts to computer-assisted design (CAD) and other large graphics files, critical business records, archived e-mails and database and file server data.”

In producing a terabyte hard drive, the company joins the likes of Hitachi, which began shipping its supersized HDD in April, and Samsung, which introduced its SpinPoint F1 Series Serial ATA HDD last week.

Desktop Bump-Up

The two drives offer business and home users a four-disk platform, 7,200-rpm spin speeds, average seek times of 8.5 milliseconds and caches up to 32 MB. The four-discs design enables the ES.2 and 7200.11 to run at cooler operating temperatures, thus providing lower power consumption that helps to extend the drive’s life.

On the consumer side, the Barracuda 7200.11 offers a 105 MB/s (megabytes per second) sustained transfer rate — the highest ever, Seagate said — as well as a low power rating of eight watts at idle. Seagate has also decreased the drive’s acoustic level to an almost imperceptible 2.7 decibels, the company said.

Home users tend to be agnostic about their HDD, John Rydning, research manager for HDD at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. For them, the most important aspects are storage capacity and price. The 1 TB Barracuda 7200.11 is priced at US$399.99.

“40 cents a gigabyte is a pretty low-cost storage option,” he said.

Supersized Enterprise

The newly designed Barracuda ES.2 enterprise perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) HDD has been optimized for use in business-critical and nearline enterprise storage environments, including networked and tiered storage solutions, reference/compliance storage, disc-to-disc backup and restore, archiving solutions, rich media content storage and collaboration, according to Seagate.

The company has built in several new features to the HDD that boost its performance, reliability, capacity and energy efficiency, including a rotational vibration feed forward system to sustain performance for enterprises with densely packed, multi-drive systems. Seagate improved the drive’s reliability with “an industry-best” unrecoverable error rate some 10 times better than desktop class drives and a 1.2 million hour mean time between failure (MTBF) rating, the company said.

Slower Spin

For users at the enterprise level, these drives, which spin more slowly than enterprise-class drives, can store more and more different types of media, said Rydning.

“They don’t have quite the data access or data throughput rate as the enterprise class 10,000 rpm and 15,000 rpm drives. But not all content need to be accessed that quickly,” he noted.

Businesses have found that they can move more content onto this category of drives, known as “capacity drives,” he explained, which have a different architecture than performance drives.

Seagate has built two unique features that differentiate its drives from Samsung’s and Hitachi’s, Rydning noted. First, Seagate’s innovative PowerTrim firmware installed on the HDD helps it stay aware of how it is being utilized and helps the drive reduce its operating power consumption. The technology can deliver a 20 percent reduction in overall drive power consumption and a “best-in-class” 55 percent reduction in watts per gigabyte, Seagate asserted.

“Especially if you have a large array, if you can imagine hundreds or thousands of these drives in a storage array, if you can power down the drives you can significantly reduce power consumption in the data center.”

Cutting Out the Middle Man

Seagate is also the first to offer customers a Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) interface as well as a Serial ATA (SATA), the company said. While it is currently possible to use a SATA drive in an enterprise enclosure that has a SAS backplane, the way it is handled is that the storage system will use an interposer that adds capability to the drive that is not native to a SATA drive, Rydning said.

“What Seagate’s done is, they’ve added that SAS native to the drive so that basically it takes away the requirement of an interposer to work with a SAS interplane and get all that functionality,” he stated. “They have cut out the middle man and they also increased the capabilities of the drive by having native SAS without an interposer.”

For companies attempting to move to a greener profile in their data centers, the ES.2 is “step in the right direction,” according to Rydning.

“That’s what all the drive manufacturers are trying to achieve, and Seagate has definitely taken it to a new level,” he concluded.

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