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The Best in Enterprise Hard Drives

The Best in Enterprise Hard Drives
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We have posted many articles recently about hard drives and their performance. These articles contain a lot of basics and important need-to-knows:

  • Understanding Hard Drive Performance
  • This article deals with all factors that influence hard drive performance: drive form factor, platter diameter and platter count, recording technology and data density, rotation speed and access time, interface and buffer memory. We compare all members of an entire hard drive family and analyze the differences.

  • Cheap RAID Ravages WD Raptor
  • RAID versus Raptor has been an interesting topic for years, and the Raptor used to be the only choice for high-performance desktops. However, recent price drops made cheap RAID setups an increasingly attractive choice, as you can get several times the storage capacity and similar performance at lower cost.

  • 2007 HDD Rundown: Can High Capacities Meet High Performance?
  • In our January hard drive roundup we took a look at 10 new hard drives in three categories.

But these articles deal with consumer and desktop hard drives for your PC or personal video recorder (PVR). Apart from these, there are hard drives for notebooks and mobile devices, and there are even other models for servers and workstations. The latter are designed for high flexibility, long-term 24/7 operation and high performance environments, and it is time to shed some light on this market segment as well.

It has been almost a year since we last covered professional hard drives. While desktop and consumer hard drives have become incredibly affordable ($35 to $350), utilizing Serial ATA or UltraATA interfaces and typically spinning at 7,200 RPM, enterprise drives are entirely different. Server and workstation hard drives generally do not adhere to qualities that are important for desktop PCs; noise and heat dissipation are two of them. Professional drives utilize Serial Attached SCSI or Ultra320 SCSI interfaces, they spin at 10,000 RPM or 15,000 RPM and they are highly optimized for performance. High-capacity storage solutions are built on enterprise-ready Serial ATA hard drives, such as the Seagate Barracuda ES.

While desktop hard drives will stay at the 3.5" form factor for the time being, professional hard drives for high-performance applications are becoming denser. Fujitsu and Seagate already offer 2.5" drives with Serial Attached SCSI interfaces and 73 or 147 GB. The main reason for moving to the 2.5" form factor is the possible increase in performance density. Most of the 2.5" SAS drives utilize the same platters as their 3.5" counterparts that spin at 15,000 RPM. As a result, performance of 2.5" SAS drives is absolutely competitive with 3.5" performance, but you can fit many more 2.5" devices into the same space, which helps to increase performance.

But the 2.5" segment is still very young, and the majority of professional drives stick to the 3.5" format. We received a total of 13 different hard drives: 2.5" SAS drives and 12 3.5" drives with SAS or Ultra320 SCSI interface. Some of the SCSI drives came with an SCA interface (Single-Connector Attachment), which merges data and power ports into one connector and allows for easier hot swapping.

3.5" hard drives spinning at 15,000 RPM utilize much smaller platters for the sake of maintaining a balanced mass. With the Seagate Savvio drive family, the platters have exactly the same diameter as the ones used for the Cheetah15K.5.

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