Seagate's 1.5TB Barracuda: Bigger And Better?

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, ST31500341AS (1.5 GB)

Storage experts will probably wonder why the new drive is still called the Barracuda 7200.11, since should be considered the next drive generation. The answer is that improvements (other than increased areal density) have not reached a level where Seagate felt that it had to increment the model number. The Barracuda 7200.11 family consists of seven different models ranging from 1.5 TB down to 160 GB. Mainstream models are available at capacities of 1 TB, 750 GB, 640 GB, 500 GB, and 320 GB. We also found that Seagate revised its mean time between failure (MTBF) figure to 750,000 hours, which is more than the usual 500,000 hours.


The drive still comes with a modern SATA/300 interface supporting native command queuing (NCQ), it still runs at 7,200 RPM, and it has a cache memory of up to 32 MB (16 and 8 MB on select entry-level models, officially not available at retail). The drive also still includes the usual five-year warranty that Seagate first introduced. The data sheet mentions up to 120 MB/s of throughput, which would put the new drive neck in neck with the current throughput champion, the Samsung Spinpoint F at 1 TB. Power consumption is stated to be up to 43% below previous products when idle.

Different Mainstream Models, Different Performance

If you look at the Barracuda 7200.11 datasheet, you will find two different models at the 1 TB capacity and you will find varying performance for the other capacity points. We didn’t get confirmed information on the actual reason for this, as we wanted to release the article as quickly as possible, but there are two possible explanations. The first assumes that some of the platter storage capacity is not used for certain capacity points, which results in less maximum throughput. The second is more likely: Seagate may be keeping both the last generation (up to 1 TB) Barracuda 7200.11 and the current 7200.11 at 375 GB per platter capacity on the market; if so, be sure to look at the datasheet before purchasing.

Does It Beat The Competition?

The new 1.5 TB Barracuda 7200.11 is quicker than many other drives, offering the fastest transfer rates ever seen on a 7,200 RPM drive. We measured up to 127 MB/s—more than a WD VelociRaptor running at 10,000 RPM. Access time and I/O performance are clearly dominated by the WD Caviar Black 1 TB and the new WD RE2 drive, but the Barracudas are at least second-place. I/O performance of the 1.5 TB Barracuda 7200.11 is disappointing, though. The drive clearly isn’t suited for servers or workstations that require high transaction performance. This is reflected in the workstation I/O performance per watt efficiency test, where it is just a bit better than the aged, power-hungry Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 with its five platters. Generally speaking, we could not see the idle power improvements that Seagate promised, but there is no alternative to this drive if you’re looking for a storage mammoth.