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The Terabyte Battle

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 Joins The Terabyte Club

Those who wanted to ship their terabyte hard drives fast came in late this time. I'm referring to Samsung and Seagate, who intended to overtake Hitachi by providing terabyte hard drives based on a higher data densities, and thus using a smaller platter count than the Deskstar 7K1000's five platters. Fewer platters per hard drive mean fewer mechanical parts that wear and tear, and the side effect is always better transfer performance. All of this remains theory, though, unless products are actually available. We still haven't seen Samsung's three-platter terabyte hard drive, but the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 has finally arrived.

While capacities seemed to be stuck at 500 GB for a while, with only Seagate going up to 750 GB, we now have three contestants battling at up to 1000 GB. Samsung will hopefully join soon, as its drives have proven to be quick and quiet over the last few years. But what is next? Western Digital declared its intention to deliver 3 TB hard drives by 2010, which represents a yearly data density increase of 40%. Samsung told us earlier this year that capacities between 1 and 2 TB should be available rather early next year. In any case, the battle for the prestigious high-end storage segment will continue, as the drive makers continue to exploit perpendicular magnetic recording and get ready for the subsequent steps, like patterned media and heat assisted recording Compare Prices on 1 TB Barracuda 7200.11.

It's still some time until 2010, and I believe we will still chronically suffer from insufficient storage capacities in the light of increasing amounts of data. There are times in which something as circumstantial as a printer driver package requires far more than 100 MB, and where Windows Update downloads more data than the Windows installation ever put on your hard drive. We not only store digital movies like we stored music or pre-multimedia files some years ago, but we'll increasingly store more and more High Definition content as well. Thus, if you ever wondered why anyone needs a terabyte hard drive today, here is a simple answer: one terabyte stores approximately 220 single layer DVDs, which certainly is a lot, but is only sufficient for 30 to 40 movies in full HD quality. If you want to continue to store it all, you'll need more and more storage - and backup space too.

For the time being, one terabyte is the limit, and we currently have to choice among three entirely different product concepts. Hitachi was the first to reach the terabyte limit with the Deskstar 7K1000, which prove to be a solid performer. The second candidate is Western Digital's Caviar GP; these letters stand for "Green Power" and points out the way WD is going: the WD10EACS has its focus on energy efficiency, not on performance. Finally, there is the Barracuda 7200.11 by Seagate, which follows the traditional method of providing more capacity and more performance with every new drive generation. Let's see how the new "dot eleven" compares to its two competitors...

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