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Smart Hard Drives: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 and Western Digital WD740 Raptor

Seagate ST3160023AS Barracuda 7200.7

The 7200.7 has been on the market for several months and has made a name for itself with good ergonomics - even in the case of the Barracuda ATA IV and V models, Seagate has been able to beat the noise levels of its rivals.

What's more, the 7200.7 is the second drive generation with serial ATA interface. What makes it special is the implementation: Seagate manages without the converter chips (called bridges) that usually allow any UltraATA drive to be "converted" to serial ATA.

Genuinely serial ATA solutions are called native serial ATA; without a doubt, this is the best solution for the interim, because converting the signal and the protocol from UltraATA/100 or 133 to serial ATA takes time - at the cost of performance.

We could not imagine that the 7200.7 would have the theoretical performance advantage of a "genuine" serial ATA interface, considering the bandwidth offered - but we also didn't expect it, because previous drives are still far from reaching the possible bandwidth of UltraATA/133, let alone from the serial ATA 150.

According to Seagate, that will all change when native command queuing is introduced, wherever translation of the protocols gets in the way of effective command processing and reorganization.

Whether or not this is so will be seen in short order in initial tests with command queuing enabled.