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Enterprise Storage: Two 2.5" 600 GB Hard Drives Tested

Enterprise Storage: Two 2.5" 600 GB Hard Drives Tested
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The latest 2.5” hard drive generation ships with SAS 6Gb/s and delivers up to 600 GB of storage space, narrowing the gap with much larger 3.5" disks. Today we're comparing the latest 2.5" drives from Seagate and Toshiba to see if they're faster, too.

Seagate’s Savvio was the first 2.5” hard drive product for enterprise applications. Today, you can get 2.5” SAS drives from Hitachi, Seagate, and Toshiba, but only Seagate and Toshiba ship the latest 600 GB, 10 000 RPM models for mainstream enterprise applications.

Hard Drives? Aren’t SSDs Better?

Hard drives will remain with us for many years, not just because of higher capacities and certainly not because of stellar performance. A decent SSD can easily overtake most hard drives. However, performance is only one of several requirements for enterprise storage, and there are many reasons to favor hard drives over SSDs.

First and foremost, there still are no long term studies on the reliability of SSDs. While we doubt that reliability issues will suddenly plague SSDs, individual cells will likely start failing as wear leveling retreads the same memory cells over and over. The result would be somewhat erratic performance, making it difficult to manage high-availability solutions. Performance variance is already an issue because most SSD performance isn’t 100% predictable. This is not the case for hard drives. But as long as operating parameters remain stable, performance is predictable. Administrators should plan to account for performance variances with oversized SSD arrays.

Then there's the issue of validation. While SSDs could take over many tasks from hard drives (high-capacity applications excepted), many products haven't been validated for specific environments, which means they can't be used. We already mentioned possible performance variances, but other issues, such as short product cycles and missing SAS interface support, don’t help. Most enterprise managers prefer to play things safe.

This is where SAS hard drives like the Seagate Savvio 10K.4 and Toshiba’s MBF-series fit in. Both deliver solid, predictable performance based on SAS 6Gb/s interfaces that enable easy deployment and management in standardized storage solutions. We wanted to know which drive is the better option from a performance standpoint.