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Unfashionably late: Seagate, Samsung unveil 1TB hard disk drives

Join Hitachi at the party, as Western Digital remains on the sidelines

By Brian Fonseca
June 25, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Two months to the day after Hitachi Global Storage Technologies brazenly declared that it had met its goal of shipping a 1TB hard disk drive, competitor Seagate LLC Monday unveiled its own corporate and consumer 1TB models.

Volume shipments of Seagate's Barracuda ES.2 and Barracuda 7200.11 devices will begin in the third quarter. 

Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics Ltd. brought out its 1TB hard-drive line -- the SpinPoint F1 Series Serial ATA hard drive -- last week. A spokeswoman for Western Digital Corp., the fourth of four major hard-drive makers, declined to say when the vendor plans to introduce a 1TB hard drive.

In an industry that has seen hard drive capacity grow by 55 times compared with the 15GB limit of 10 years ago, Seagate customers say they are ready for the latest increase.

"It's amazing to talk about a 1TB hard drive -- at one point that was unfathomable," said Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based systems builder and reseller of Seagate, Hitachi, Western Digital and Samsung technology.

"Is it a big difference between 750GB and 1TB? No, but there's just an insatiable demand for more space, and to cross that [1TB] barrier just takes things into a whole different realm," he remarked.

Swank, who has worked in the hard drive industry for 13 years, said he was slightly surprised that Seagate was not first out of the gate with a 1TB drive.

He said greater hard disk drive capacity demands from end users are driven by higher-end applications on storage servers; increasingly complex security, backup and retention demands; rich high-definition and multimedia content on workstations and laptops; and large graphics files.

Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 and Barracuda ES.2 feature 7,200-rpm spin speeds, up to 32MB cache, average seek times of 8.5 milliseconds, and a 1.2 million hour mean time before failure (MTBF) rating, according to Seagate officials.  
Offered at a price of $399 and designed for corporate storage environments, the 1TB four-disk Barracuda ES.2 is equipped with a Serial Attached SCSI interface option to complement existing SATA functionality.

The new device also features a new Rotational Vibration Feed Forward capability to maximize performance in densely packed multidrive systems, a 20% reduction in overall drive performance, safeguards for downloading code during power failures, and a bridge code for download protection to prevent unauthorized firmware downloads, Seagate officials said.

Optimized for RAID applications, Samsung's 1TB F1 Series drives offers a SATA 3GB/sec. interface, 334GB-per-platter capacity, 7,200-rpm spin speeds, up to 32MB cache and an MTBF rating of up to 1.2 million hours, said Andy Higginbotham, director of HDD sales and marketing for Seoul, Korea-based Samsung.

Calling the Samsung's hard drive efforts to date spotty at best, Swank said he is wary of the company's entry into the 1TB hard disk drive market. "They bring a [hard drive] to the market and you get excited about it, but then they just go away. It seems like they've always toyed with the market and never really have been a serious player," he said.

The Samsung F1 Series drive is currently shipping at a price of $399, officials said.

Read more about Data Storage in Computerworld's Data Storage Topic Center.

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