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1TB Evolves: New Drives, More Speed

1TB Evolves: New Drives, More Speed

The race to terabyte capacity points in the 3.5” desktop space ended almost one and a half years ago. Hitachi was first to market with its Deskstar 7K1000. Samsung had announced its terabyte drive rather early, but WD made it to the shelves next with its Green Power Caviar GP 1 TB drive, followed by Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.11, and then Samsung’s Spinpoint F1.

Although Seagate is about to release its next product generation, which will store a massive 1.5 TB of data, 1 TB drives will soon become the norm for performance desktops, making this segment extremely attractive. That was reason enough for Hitachi and Western Digital to release completely revised products, which aim at claiming the performance and efficiency crowns. Enter Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000.B and the Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB.

More Capacity? Not a Problem!

Seagate’s 1.5 TB drive announcement hit the wires on July 10, but it wasn’t exactly a big surprise to anyone with a little insight into the hard drive market. Thanks to perpendicular magnetic recording, which allows stored bits to be moved closer to each other by magnetizing particles in a vertical orientation, capacities per platter have increased faster than ever before. While Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000 was still based on five platters, the WD Caviar GP and Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.11 at 1 TB both utilize four platters. Samsung’s Spinpoint F1 was the only terabyte drive to be based on three platters.

The new Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 will reach its 1.5 TB capacity by writing data onto four platters of roughly 375 GB each. Looking at the three-platter drives by Samsung, as well as the new Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B and WD’s Caviar Black GP, which both are three-platter products as well, it is safe to assume that these three competitors could create similar drives if they wanted. However, most of them won’t take this step before the end of the year.

Speed And Efficiency Matter

Clearly, not everyone really needs a terabyte of storage, but there are several other reasons to go for such a drive. First up is the appealing capacity, which is one of the best selling points you can think of. Hence, all of the PC makers will try to fit 1 TB drives into their mainstream products as soon as possible. The second factor is the shrinking price difference between mainstream drives in the 500 GB to 750 GB range, and these terabyte drives. Spending an additional $20-30 usually justifies going for the sexy terabyte capacity point, which should provide sufficient storage space for several years.

That said, the new drives do not simply represent additional choice in this market. They have undergone substantial revisions to not only increase performance, but also to improve efficiency. Falling cost ensures great price per gigabyte ratios, and the increased energy awareness of the hard drive makers also helps guide the latest generation of 7,200 RPM desktop drives to much-improved performance per watt scores.

B Like Black – Or Like 7K1000.B

The two new drives share a three-platter layout and the same 7,200 RPM rotation speed, but apart from that they show different performance characteristics. The new Hitachi 7K1000.B isn’t a single product in its own family anymore. Rather, Hitachi GST now offers a full lineup at different capacity points.

Western Digital introduced its new drive under the Caviar Black banner, representing enthusiast hard drives, and as the RE3 (RAID Edition 3) for entry-level servers.

Can the new drives beat the impressive throughput of Samsung’s Spinpoint F1? Will there be a new overall winner? Let’s find out.

Display 19 Comments.
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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 12, 2008 8:34 AM
    The only important factor with these drives is reliability, and from what I have seen in the field ALL these drives fail at an oft ridiculous and alarming rate.

    For some reason it seems to be an industry standard to use multi-drive backup systems in place of fixing the faults in the first place.
  • 1 Hide
    typerazor , September 12, 2008 8:58 AM
    the 1.5TB drives from seagate have been out for about 2 weeks now, had them for 200$ but now charges 240$ just to price gouge i guess
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 12, 2008 11:33 AM
    . Spending an additional $20-30 usually justifies going for the sexy terabyte capacity point, which should provide sufficient storage space for several years^h^h^h^h^h months.

    Fixed that for you!
  • -1 Hide
    jaragon13 , September 12, 2008 12:04 PM
    Only thing this proves is Hitachi is cool,and the VelociRaptor is the best drive available.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , September 12, 2008 4:31 PM
    Does any of you know if the current hard drives write/read information in parallel to/from each platter?

    Just wondering if the hard drive performance could be improved by doing some kind of raid 0 internally in the hard drive.
  • 1 Hide
    jate , September 12, 2008 7:03 PM
    I agree that reliability and lifespan of such drive were more important. Having such big storage means keeping important files consuming large space and i cant imagine the scenario lossing all of it because of failed drive after few months of use..
  • 0 Hide
    cjl , September 12, 2008 7:41 PM
    eliseobcDoes any of you know if the current hard drives write/read information in parallel to/from each platter?Just wondering if the hard drive performance could be improved by doing some kind of raid 0 internally in the hard drive.

    The heads aren't lined up well enough to do that. When one head is on a track, the others are slightly off.
  • -1 Hide
    Willie T , September 12, 2008 9:08 PM
    Wait a minute! You mean to tell us that WD marketing types actually let their products out as "Black & Blue"??? Ha, ha, ha. Sounds like a bruise!
  • 0 Hide
    ITSurf , September 13, 2008 6:07 AM
    Too bad you didn't include the latest revision of the 1 TB Western Digital Green Power drive WD10EACS-00D6B0. It uses the same 3 platter design of the Caviar Black and features reduced power consumption and increased transfer rates. It's already been tested by other sites to use 1.25 watts less power in idle compared to the original 4 platter design. It's also been shipping since May 2008.
  • -1 Hide
    randomizer , September 14, 2008 9:47 AM
    ITSurfIt's already been tested by other sites to use 1.25 watts less power in idle compared to the original 4 platter design.

    The solution to global warming has arrived. :lol: 
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 16, 2008 3:45 PM
    so the Caviar Green clearly requires revision.

    False. WD10EACS D6B0 is already out. 3 platter new design.
  • -1 Hide
    sdcaliceli , September 17, 2008 6:37 AM
    Are these 7k1000.b Hitachi drives out yet? I can't find them anywhere. The only that has popped up for me on a google search has been the 250gb capacity.
  • -1 Hide
    storageinventor , September 18, 2008 2:07 AM

    If the heads are slightly misaligned then in order to accomplish this task, the actuator would need an additional alignment control for each head. This additional controller would only need to be able to move its head the width of a few tracks one way or the other. It would also probably require separate control logic for each head as well since each head would be searching for its proper track in parallel.

    In short, it would require many changes to the internal controls and firmware and would probably increase the costs to manufacture the drive but it could provide a significant boost to performance.

    The additional controls may also introduce a reliability issue but it could be designed such that if a component fails, the system "falls back" to a functioning but less optimal state.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 19, 2008 4:43 AM
    Hi, I have been taking an interest in the efficiency ratings you are doing on drives. I wonder if you might do a round up of efficiency improvements over time (i.e. are hard drives getting more or less efficient as capacities and speeds increase and technologies change).

    Also it might be interesting to retest drives after a couple of years hard work to see if their efficiency (i.e. watts per **) changes. Does the point wear down on a 'spinpoint' drive? What effect does this have?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 20, 2008 2:23 PM
    As long as these drives are made in china, expect shit quality.
  • 2 Hide
    v12v12 , September 23, 2008 7:53 AM
    Yeah, after losing 3 damn drives, 250, 500, 500, I don't give a rats arse about minuscule diffs in speed and access time. I want a drive that IS going to last at least up to it's warrantied period! If I want speed, I'll be sticking with these Raptors I have. Drives are so large now, running 1TB (eh even partitioned) as a boot drive is dumb. Get a cheap 36GB raptor for the super snappy latency times and burst transfers.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , October 31, 2008 12:42 AM
    Agree with those seeking reliability!

    I have 1TB of data in limbo right now thanks to the (at least partial) failures of two Western Digital WD5000AAKS drives.

    Obviously disenchanted with WD at this point -- though I have used them almost exclusively over the years, and they served me well up to this set of drives I bought about 18 mos. ago -- so I bought a Seagate ST31000340AS to begin the recovery process.

    Today, looking to buy a couple more 1TB drives to be prepared to make redundant backups of all my valuable data before I attempt to bring it back online. Confronted with nothing but horror stories as I read review after review of Hitachi, Seagate, & WD, where people are complaining about fast, frequent, brutal failures. (...possibly aggravated by the fact that companies like Newegg and ZipZoomFly don't seem to want to spend the extra $1.50 on bubble wrap to provide adequate packing protection for hard drives when they ship them.)

    The foremost question I would like answered right now is: "Which manufacturer/drive is not going to f*** me?"

    Tom & Co., your advice is most appreciated. Thank you.

    But this post is also an "open letter" to the manufacturers to let them know, in whatever small way, that customers (and even salespeople!) are getting tired of all these unreliable drives. (And also that maybe your shippers/distributors need to be held accountable for the condition these drives are arriving in.)

    PS thanks for the anon. posting system. Every worthless site expects one to register/login these days, and it's nice to see sites of quality bucking that trend. You wouldn't hear from me otherwise. I mean... I've got more important things to do in my life than make/manage logins for every pissant site on the web... like, unfortunately, recovering failed HDs.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 19, 2008 8:31 PM
    Hitachi 7K1000.B access time is 12.5ms - THG must have tested them with AAM turned on ;) 
    (own 2x HDT721064SLA360 in RAID 0 - read/write 175/160MB/s on AMD SB600)
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , January 22, 2009 10:24 AM
    I agree with messages before me stating that manufacturers should stop creating less durable cr_p. Unless of course this is what keeps them in business.

    I therefore bought an Intel X25-E SSD recently, and I'm quite happy with it as a boot-drive. Finally something I can rely on. At least, they claim their MTBF is humongously longer than with the common HDD and I trust Intel on that.

    My guess is that we should have 1 TB HDDs in RAID-1 at least, to be somewhat at ease about crashing hardware.