Skip to main content

Serial ATA Is Here: Seagate Barracuda ATA V and Five of the Latest Controllers Reviewed

Outlook: The Future Of Serial ATA

The Serial ATA standard specification provides a great deal of scope for future improvements. So far, the future looks like this:

Serial ATA ISerial ATA IISerial ATA III
Transfer rate150 MB/s300 MB/s600 MB/s
Release2002ca. 2005ca. 2007 or later
SignalingAs Serial ATA IAs Serial ATA II**
* Provisional. This information may still change.
** Backwards compatibility with Serial ATA I is conceivable.

The 300 or 600 MBytes/sec envisaged for Serial ATA II and III seems enormous from today's perspective, but we expect to see hard drives with over 100 MBytes/sec within a few years. The actual maximum transfer rate in practical terms is usually about 10 to 15 percent below theoretical, as allowance has to be made for controller overhead.

Seagate Barracuda ATA V: Versions And Specifications

The Barracuda ATA V with Serial ATA is available in two versions. The ST380023AS offers 80 GB; the ST380023ASST31200023AS half as much again (120 GB). All drives in this series run at 7,200 rpm and have an average seek time of 9 msec. With 8 MB of cache, both drives are just as well specified as the top-of-the-range models from Western Digital (WD2000JB) and IBM (DeskStar 180 GXP). The Barracuda ATA V is also available with an UltraATA/100 interface.

The interesting features of this drive are, first, the Serial ATA interface, and then the newly developed drive motor with 'fluid dynamic bearing' that goes by the name of SoftSonic. According to Seagate, this is a sixth-generation disk drive that outperforms all comparable competitive products with respect to noise reduction. The Barracuda ATA IV was already so quiet that even the most sensitive ears were never disturbed by it.

Seagate has pulled it off again as far as both performance improvement and noise reduction are concerned. More on this in the Benchmarks section.

Exemplary: an aluminum plate protects the electronics underneath the Barracuda ATA V.

There is even space for some self-promotion underneath, thanks to the cover.