Enthusiast 2.5" HDDs: Speed or Capacity?

What Comes Next?

We’ve already released our review of the first hybrid hard drive (H-HDD), which was not quite convincing. Sure, it is still early to come to a final conclusion, and Windows Vista might not become really interesting before Service Pack 1 anyway, but enthusiasts are sure to find more and more options in the form of Flash-based hard drives.

We don’t believe that Flash hard drives will replace mechanical drives any time soon, but ultra-mobile users, who do not need a lot of capacity on the road, will certainly be happy to exchange their hard drives for Flash-based products. These are starting to be available at 16 or 32 GB ; it won’t take more than a few months until higher capacity versions become available as well. However, Flash will not be able to compete with high capacity requirements in the area of 200 GB and up, because even as Flash approaches these sizes, mechanical drives will offer even higher capacities rather soon, enabling 320 GB at 5,400 RPM in the notebook space.

Test Setup

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System Hardware
Processor(s)2x Intel Xeon Processor (Nocona core)3.6 GHz, FSB800, 1 MB L2 Cache
PlatformAsus NCL-DS (Socket 604)Intel E7520 Chipset, BIOS 1005
RAMCorsair CM72DD512AR-400 (DDR2-400 ECC, reg.)2x 512 MB, CL3-3-3-10 Timings
System Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar WD1200JB120 GB, 7,200 RPM 8 MB Cache, UltraATA/100
Mass Storage Controller(s)Intel 82801EB UltraATA/100 Controller (ICH5)Promise SATA 300TX4Promise FastTrak TX4310Driver
NetworkingBroadcom BCM5721 On-Board Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Graphics CardOn-Board GraphicsATI RageXL, 8 MB
System Hardware
Performance Measurementsc’t h2benchw 3.6
I/O PerformanceIOMeter 2003.05.10Fileserver BenchmarkWebserver BenchmarkDatabase BenchmarkWorkstation Benchmark
System Software & Drivers
OSMicrosoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition,Service Pack 1
Platform DriverIntel Chipset Installation Utility
Graphics DriverDefault Windows Graphics Driver