Disk drive maker Seagate Technology on June 25 introduced what it calls "the first second-generation" 1TB storage hard drives for a variety of enterprise and desktop uses.
The Barracuda 7200.11 for desktops and Barracuda ES.2 enterprise PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) hard drives deliver 1TB of capacity on a four-disk platform, 7,200-rpm spin speeds, and caches up to 32MB, Willis Whittington, Seagate product marketing manager, told eWEEK.
The new drives will be marketed both as branded items to the public and as OEM components to Seagate computer-making partners, Whittington said.
Both drives will begin shipping in volume during the third quarter of this year. Pricing for each is set at $399.99.
The Barracuda ES.2 is designed for business-critical and nearline enterprise storage environments, including networked and tiered storage solutions, reference/compliance storage, disc-to-disc backup and restore, archiving solutions, rich media content storage and collaboration, Whittingtom said.
The Barracuda ES.2 is the first Seagate drive with a SAS (server attached storage) interface option in addition to SATA (serial ATA), Whittington said.
Whittington said that SAS offers greater levels of reliability, data integrity and performance for enterprise environments, and that the choice between SATA or SAS also enables greater system design and integration flexibility for solution builders and OEMs.
The Barracuda 7200.11 for desktops touts a 105MB per second sustained transfer rate—the highest ever for a desktop storage system, Whittington said. It also uses a mere 8 watts at idle, he added.
The new hard drives use "55 percent less wattage than comparable drives because of our dynamic power-saving feature, PowerTrim, that dynamically manages drive power consumption at all levels of activity. The drives use only one watt per 125GB of capacity," Whittington said
PowerTrim reduces power consumption and system cooling by disabling read/write electronics during period of inactive input/output.
"With PowerTrim, more intelligence is being built into the drives microcode firmware that increases the drives self-awareness of its activity, and adjusts power levels accordingly without impacting the drives performance," said John Rydning, IDC research manager for hard disk drives. "Nearly all HDD designs have shifted away from a one-power-level-fits-all design, but Seagate is taking it to a new level."
Hitachi and Samsung came out with their own similar-size, first-generation PMR drives last January. Lesser-known Iomega and Buffalo also have 1TB drives on the market.
Seagates four-platter 1TB HDD design fits in-between Samsungs three-platter and Hitachis five-platter 1TB HDD configurations, Rydning told eWEEK.
"Seagate is taking a more conservative path than Samsung with its 1TB drive design, presumably to ensure higher reliability with less aggressive HDD technology adoption. Hitachi was able to be first to market with its five-platter design, and began shipping its 1TB drive in 1Q 07," Rydning said.
Thanks to new levels of competition in the market sector, storage devices continue to get smaller in footprint and less expensive, while offering increased capacity and more desirable features, such as auto-backup and encryption.
Seagate, based in Scotts Valley, Calif., IBM and Hitachi all have been highlighting their work in improving areal density, or the number of bits of data that can be recorded onto the surface of a disk or platter using PMR.
According to IDC, Seagate-made drives using PMR comprised more than half of total PMR shipments as of the first quarter of this year (29 million of 50 million total shipped).
PMR is a newly implemented technology for data recording on hard disks that was first demonstrated in Japan in 1976. The technique is believed to be capable of delivering up to 10 times the storage density of conventional longitudinal recording—on the same media.
There were some attempts to use PMR in floppy disks in the 1980s, but it was not reliable enough. Today there is renewed interest in using it in HDDs, which are quickly reaching their space limits.
"The need for high-capacity storage in enterprise networks and home entertainment centers is almost insatiable," said John Monroe, a research vice president at Gartner.
"Historians may consider the shipment of 1TB drives as a watershed event for the industry, but users will consider such devices commonplace. We believe 1TB [and larger] drives will become standard equipment in, on or near virtually every television set in the world as well as in a variety of multi-user environments."
Seagate, citing major research and development strides in improving areal density of hard drive disks, claimed in Sept. 2006 that it had set a data storage world record of 421G bits per square inch in revealing the results of a magnetic recording demonstration.
A hard drive with that kind of areal capacity could carry as much as a 2.5TB of data—enough to store 41,650 hours (1,735 days, or 4.75 years) of music, 800,000 digital photographs, 4,000 hours of digital video or 1,250 video games. Seagate spokesperson David Szabados said that hard drives at these density levels probably wont be available until 2009, but added that the need will be there because disk-drive capacity is growing rapidly.
"We [Seagate] are seeing about a 40 percent increase in disk-drive capacity each year, and thats pretty significant," Szabados said.