Hitachi 7K400 400GB Deskstar Hard Drive

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2004-04-23 Print this article Print

Review: ExtremeTech checks out the largest desktop hard drive on the market today. The 400GB Deskstar is roomy, fast, and a marvel of modern engineering. It's not a breakthrough, though—just a new spin on existing tech.

Before we launch into the specs and features of the new Hitachi 400GB hard drive, we need to point out a few things. Hitachi is not targeting this hard drive for your normal PC desktop. Its really aimed at an emerging application category known as "near-line backup." Another area of interest is media storage applications, like those used in DVRs (digital video recorders). As HDTV becomes more prevalent, were starting to see HD-DVRs. At 8.7GB per hour, HDTV can eat up drive space at an alarming rate. Even a 400GB drive will only hold about 45 hours of HDTV content (depending on compression). Still, the idea of a 400GB drive is an intriguing one, and this one is built and has specs like a desktop drive. What does a 400GB hard drive look like? Despite having five platters and ten heads, it pretty much looks like any 7,200RPM desktop drive.
What immediately jumps out at you is the similarity between these two drives. The areal density is roughly the same. The 7K400 gets its massive capacity not by some breakthrough in platter density, but by adding platters and heads. Its still an 80GB per platter drive. So our guess is that the performance of the two drives should be roughly similar.
We received a Serial ATA version of the drive, which uses the Marvell 88i8030 parallel ATA-to-SATA bridge chip. As weve seen in past reviews, although this isnt "native" SATA, the bridge solution can offer impressive performance. To read the full story, click here.
Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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