Seagate New Barracuda XT 3TB Reviewccokeman - November 6, 2011
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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Storage space is something we all need to store the digital content of our lives. Whether it is family portraits, videos from the family vacation, forms, music, the latest movies downloaded straight from sources unknown(Not that we would do that mind you), or spreadsheets that track our monthly expenditures, the need for more storage space continues to rise as we keep more and more of our lives stored digitally. Higher definition digital video recorders and cameras plus high definition video content keep driving the need for storage space up with larger and larger file sizes. Not to mention the fact that most of us are digital hoarders, we keep everything it seems. Hard drive manufacturers seem more than willing to oblige our lust for more and more space. Seagate delivered their largest single drive to date the Barracuda XT ST33000651AS 3 Terabyte drive back in June. That drive had six 500GB platters in it and was a 50% increase in capacity over the previously released Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB drive that debuted back in December of 2009. Technology has a way of marching relentlessly on and just four months into the life cycle of the 3 Terabyte drive, Seagate has improved the breed with a change in platter size from 500GB platters to the industries first drive equipped with 1 Terabyte platters. By moving to 1 Terabyte platters the density of the tracks has increased to 340,000 per linear inch across the radius of the disk. This means the average track size has decreased to the point where the average track is narrower than the Flu virus at 75 nanometers. Reading those smaller tracks is made easier with the use of Seagate's Acutrac Nano actuation technology on the read/write arms. Opti-cache technology has been further refined with a 40nm dual core ARM processor and 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM to drive performance even higher. Pricing on the 3TB drive comes in at a competitive $179, The 2TB $105.99, 1.5TB at $83.99, and the 1TB coming in just over 70 dollars. Lets dig into the latest hard disk drive from Seagate to see if the increase in platter size and improved processes equates to a higher level of performance given the same SATA 6 Gb/s interface.
Externally the Seagate ST3000DM001 Barracuda 3TB drive looks the same as many of its predecessors, no surprise there. The aluminum housing and steel cover are pretty much standard for the the 3.5 inch form factor for internal hard disk drives. The top of the Seagate drive has a label that shows the model number, serial number, capacity, voltage & current requirements, and an Installation summary. The side view shows the mounting points that again are standard for the form factor. The bottom of the drive has a PCB that is home to a 40nm dual core processor and DDR2 memory. Connectivity is standard for the form factor with a SATA 6Gb/s connector and SATA power connection.
Seagate has decided to discontinue their "Green" line of 5900 RPM spindle speed drives with the introduction of this new Barracuda series, after their research has indicated that the lower spindle speed and performance does not pay off in a significant reduction in energy consumption. The 20 to 40 cents(yes cents) per year saved comes with a corresponding 20 to 40% reduction in performance. Rather than fight that battle, Seagate has improved the drive through increased platter size, Seagate Acutrac Nano server actuation technology for the read/write arm assemblies, smaller yet increased track sizes, and new Opti-cache technology, caching algorithms to drive performance by 45% over previous gen products, all while keeping the 7200RPM spindle speed. Lets see if the new "Barracuda" has enough bite to back up the claims of increased performance.