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New, Faster, Quieter: The Seagate Barracuda 7200.8

Seagate's New Hard Drives

Seagate's new Barracuda 7200.8 was actually ready before arch-rival Western Digital's latest drive, but the distribution of test samples did not happen as quickly as usual this time. Once we got our hands on the external 400 GB version, we drummed up a 3.5" drive with 300 GB of capacity for a separate appraisal of its performance capability. Shortly after this came the 400 GB version of the internal unit, giving us three models we could focus on for this article.

At first, it doesn't look like much has changed. There is still the familiar 3.5" form factor, 7,200 RPM spindle speed, and 8 MB of cache memory. Competitor Maxtor's drives have already come with 16 MB for about nine months now, though this has provided few advantages so far - this means the 8 MB is still competitive. The 7200.8 is already the second generation of drives supporting Native Command Queuing (NCQ). This feature allows the drive to sort incoming commands so they can be processed efficiently, reducing head movements and thus access times.

What's really new with this Seagate drive is the use of platters that can store 133 GB of data. This allows the manufacturer to offer a colossal 400 GB capacity with its top model using only three platters.

While the desktop drive has already been in stores now for a few weeks, the external version featuring a backup button is now out as well. Let's take a look at both.