New Enterprise Hard Drives: 6 Gb/s SAS And 200 MB/s

With SAS 6 Gb/s HBAs and infrastructure now available, this seems to be the perfect time to examine the latest enterprise hard drive offerings from Fujitsu, Hitachi, and Seagate. Samsung and Western Digital would probably claim that they offer enterprise-class drives as well, but their products are more suitable for business solutions rather than enterprise applications because they don’t yet offer SAS.

Today we're looking at eight different SAS models from Fujitsu, Hitachi, and Seagate offering up to 600GB of capacity.

The Big Shrink

Our three players have been working towards switching their enterprise products from 3.5” to a 2.5” form factor for various reasons. The first is I/O performance, because 15,000 RPM 2.5” enterprise drives deliver the best I/O operations per second (IOPS) results. Secondly, efficiency and storage density are key factors. Smaller hard drives require considerably less power, but deliver comparable performance, which results in increased power efficiency (performance per watt). 

Storage density is usually defined as a measurement of data stored within a given space. But in the enterprise, higher storage density typically also often infers higher performance per space. All other things being equal, more hard drives deliver more IOPS and better throughput. Finally, higher storage density can lead to reduced overal costs when using fewer drives to reach higher capacities.

Enterprise Adjustments

The Seagate Constellation reaches 500GB, while our other contenders are all 146/147GB or 300GB models. Compared to the 2,000GB units available in the desktop space, this appears almost pathetic. However, hard drive makers stopped pursuing high enterprise drive capacities at top performance levels long ago. If you want high capacity in the “enterprise” drive segment, you look to purpose-built 24x7 versions of mainstream, high-capacity products. Hitachi has the Ultrastar A7K2000, Samsung has its Spinpoint RAID class, Seagate has the Barracuda ES.2, and Western Digital has its RAID Edition drives.

All of these are desktop-class designs that were modified for performance and reliability in enterprise environments. These are the only reasonable choices for high-capacity storage. But since we’re focusing on performance in this article, we’re going to only look at performance-oriented drives.