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Hard Drives, Yesterday And Today: From 500 GB To 1.5 TB


This article aimed to compare three of the last few hard drive generations, taking into account the current tendency to move away from 7,200 RPM to only 5,400 RPM in the high capacity segment. This makes sense, because higher capacities are easier to reach at relaxed spindle speeds, and also because high capacity storage devices don’t need to perform as fast as possible: there are faster hard drives and flash SSDs, which serve better as high-end system drives. The best solution is to get a fast system drive, and look for an efficient storage monster the next time you upgrade.

We chose three Samsung hard drives for this analysis: the 500 GB Spinpoint T166, which was released in 2007; Samsung’s F1 EcoGreen 5,400 RPM 1 TB drive from 2008; and the latest addition, the Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen at 1.5 TB. Our testing revealed that the increase in data density made up for the throughput decrease when going from the Spinpoint T166 to the F1 EG. The latest F2 EG finally manages to deliver throughput of 110 MB/s, which is as much as first generation terabyte hard drives. At the same time, power consumption has reached low levels, which helped to effectively double power efficiency.

But there is a downside: the lower spindle speed results in longer access times and handicapped I/O performance for the EcoGreen drives. However, if you want an efficient high capacity drive, you can probably live with a small performance penalty. Throughput is nice, power consumption has reached really low levels, and I/O workloads should be taken on by workstation or server hard drives and flash SSDs anyway.

One rule remains: whenever you get a hard drive, you should make sure to get the latest product generation.