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SAS Storage: High-Performance Hard Drives

Conclusion and Comparison Table

Clearly, this review shows that some new hard drive stars have been born: the Ultrastar 15K450 does well, but the real showpiece is the Cheetah 15K.6. While the Hitachi Ultrastar 15K450 makes an excellent impression by outperforming all the other 15,000 RPM hard drives, the Seagate Cheetah 15K.6 is even faster, reaching almost 175 MB/s sequential throughput at very short access times, with great I/O performance.

SSD or HDD?

If you’re looking for a fast enterprise drive for I/O intensive operations, most enterprise-class flash SSDs most likely are the better choice, as their I/O performance cannot be matched by mechanical hard drives. But Hitachi and Seagate have created server hard drives that offer an new and desirable balance among performance, capacity and—let’s not forget—cost! If you look at the cost of enterprise flash SSDs, which is in the area of $1,000 to $1,500 for only 32 or 64 GB, the new Hitachi and Seagate enterprise hard drives clearly offer better value, as they are available starting at less than $400 for the 146 GB Seagate Cheetah 15K.6.

Cost Decides

Hitachi’s Ultrastar 15K450 and the 450 GB model of the Cheetah 15K.6 start at less than $860. This is still acceptable, but we’d like to warn both Hitachi and Seagate not to destroy the newly created market segment, which will only persist if the balance among performance, capacity and cost is maintained. High capacity can be covered by SATA drives, which will be available at 1.5 TB soon, and high performance will increasingly be attacked by flash-based drives.

SAS Drives for Enthusiasts!

What do we do with these results? Clearly, the decision for or against a flash SSD has to be made very carefully, as a premature purchase can turn out to be the wrong choice, but both drives proved that high-end mechanical drives still have their place. The Cheetah 15K.6, especially, is a real beast that feels (and also clearly sounds) faster than other drive solutions. This leaves us to suggest one of these drives for enthusiasts, as you can get a 146 GB Cheetah 15K.6 plus a simple 4-port SAS controller for half the money you’d have to spend for a powerful 64 GB Flash SSD. Think about it.

Comparison Table

ManufacturerHitachiSeagate
SeriesUltrastar 15K450Cheetah 15K.6
ModelHUS154545VLS300ST3450856SAS
Capacity450 GB450 GB
Rotation Speed15,000 RPM15,000 RPM
Platters44
Cache16 MB16 MB
InterfaceSASSAS
Form Factor3.5"3.5"

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