Maxtor Goes Serial ATA: The DiamondMax Plus 9 Gets Put to the Test


The Serial ATA market is gradually picking up momentum. Last year, Seagate won the race to launch the first available hard drive of this type. There wasn't much to stand in the way of its victory, however, since at that time the competition was not even attempting a speedy switch-over to Serial ATA.

In the meantime, the race for a piece of the pie is has gotten well and truly underway, with everyone wanting to get a big slice. Western Digital is edging its way into the server segment with its new Raptor line, whereas Maxtor is initially targeting high-performance users.

Irrespective of Serial ATA, another big issue involves putting established rivals into place. High capacities continue to be in great demand and are particularly good for boosting image. With up to 200 GB, Maxtor draws up to the same level as Western Digital and leaves IBM's DeskStar 180 GXP trailing behind.

The next item on the checklist is the performance of the drive, in which the data transfer rate and the access time each play a key role, both of which depend directly or indirectly on the speed of rotation. A speed of 7,200 rpm has been regarded as pretty mundane for a few years now, and has often resulted in clearly audible operating noise. However, all the manufacturers have succeeded in lessening this nuisance considerably by using fluid dynamic bearings (FDB), such that high-performance drives are now just slightly louder than the models with a speed of only 5,400 rpm.

The hard drive cache has also assumed large dimensions. All the manufacturers now outfit their top models optionally or exclusively with 8 MB cache. Two versions of the DiamondMax Plus 9 are available, however, one with 2 MB and the other with 8 MB (for details, refer to the "Technical Data" section).

As such, the technical requirements for a new top seller have been defined. In one aspect, however, the Maxtor drive fails to score any points, namely because the warranty period is a mere 12 months.