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Seagate updates drives in biggest-ever refresh

Increases caches from 16MB to 64MB, incorporates Samsung technology in SSDs

March 15, 2011 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - Seagate today announced five product refreshes that include both its solid-state drive (SSD) line and its high-performance, midrange and high-capacity hard-disk drives. The upgrades boost performance and capacity by between 50% and 100%.

All of its new drives come with a self-encrypting option. Seagate boosted the cache on all of its HDDs from 16MB to 64MB, which boosts performance on each model.

With the exception of its new 3TB Constellation ES.2 HDD, the product launch consists of all 2.5-in. form factor drives.

"We're standardizing on 2.5-in. form factor and SAS interface. That way, we can help reduce [system manufacturer's] operating costs and increase their efficiencies," said Teresa Worth, senior product marketing manager for mission critical technology at Seagate.

The SSDs

Seagate kicked off its flurry of product upgrades with its line of SSDs, which includes a single-level cell (SLC)-grade Pulsar XT.2 product and its multi-level cell (MLC) Pulsar.2 drives.

The Pulsar XT.2
The Pulsar XT.2 SSD.

Last August, Seagate announced a partnership with Samsung, the world's largest producer of NAND flash chips. Seagate's new SSDs are based on Samsung's 32 nanometer (nm) NAND flash circuit technology.

Seagate only announced it first full SSD a little more than a year ago. That Pulsar line is based on Seagate's own proprietary controller technology.

Seagate new high-end Pulsar XT.2 SSD is based on SLC-NAND technology, which has roughly 10 times the endurance of MLC-based NAND flash. With that in mind, the company is for the first time offering a 5-year warranty on a drives, which comes in 100GB, 200GB, and 400GB capacities with a 6Gbit/sec. serial-attached SCSI (SAS) interface.

But what really sets the new Pulsar line apart is its endurance based on new error correction code and wear-leveling software. Seagate claims the Pulsar XT.2 can sustain up to 10 full drive writes per day every day over its three-year warrantied lifespan, which amounts to 15 petabytes worth of data written to the drive.

"Those numbers are higher than any application can drive to. Our hard drives don't even do that," Worth said.

The Pulsar XT.2 is 50% faster than its predecessor and boasts a random read/write rate of 48,000 and 22,000 I/Os per second, respectively. It has a sequential read/write rate of 360MB/sec and 300MB/sec, respectively, and an average seek response time of about 10 milliseconds.

Seagate's new highest capacity SSD, the Pulsar.2, is based on MLC-NAND flash memory, meaning it stores two versus one bit per cell, which ups capacity but lowers endurance. So the Pulsar.2 comes in capacities ranging from 100GB to 800GB but comes with a three-year warranty.

Worth said the Pulsar.2 is the first MLC-based SSD built for the enterprise by "an enterprise-class vendor."

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