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Flash SSD Update: More Results, Answers

Hard Drives: Hitachi, Samsung

Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 (160 GB, 7,200 RPM)

We have to say we “unfortunately” used the Travelstar 7K200 for our initial article, because this model demonstrates power characteristics that give it a significant advantage. Hitachi seems to implement a more complex power-saving strategy than other drive makers, as the 7K200 was able to reach a lower drive idle power state and achieve lower power consumption in DVD playback than any of the other hard drives and solid state drives with the exception of Sandisk’s SSD5000, which is an under performer. When active, the Travelstar 7K200 requires an acceptable amount of power, although the streaming read benchmark had it reach the peak power consumption. The Hitachi example makes clear that there is still power saving potential to be had in conventional magnetic media.

The Travelstar spins at 7,200 RPM, has 16MB cache and utilizes two platters. While it is available at up to 200 GB, we had a 160-GB version available for review. We initially used it for the first Flash SSD article because it is a high-performance 7,200 RPM notebook drive with acceptably low peak power of 3.2W.See our review Travelstar 7K200 and 5K250 Beat the Band: Hitachi Climbs the Notebook Hard Drive Olympus for more information.

Samsung HM320JI (320 GB, 5,400 RPM)

Samsung’s HM320JI (Spinpoint M6) is a mainstream 5,400 RPM 2.5” hard drive, which isn’t optimized for random I/O, but for sequential performance. As a consequence, it delivers the best streaming read performance of all mechanical drives in this article and it is only slightly behind the Flash SSDs by Crucial and Mtron. However, the Samsung drive requires more power to operate at maximum throughput, which is the reason why it comes close to the streaming performance-per-watt results of some SSDs, but cannot beat them. The drive has an 8-MB cache and a SATA 1.5 Gb/s interface, but it turned out not to be more efficient than the Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 when looking at idle and peak power requirements.

See review 2.5” HDD Galore: Samsung, Seagate, Toshiba. The New Notebook HDDs for 2008 for more information.