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An In-Depth Look At Seagate's 1.5TB Barracuda 283

Posted by kdawson
from the should-be-space-enough-for-anyone dept.
theraindog writes "More than a year and a half after the first terabyte hard drives became widely available, Seagate has reached the next storage capacity milestone. With 1.5 terabytes, the latest Barracuda 7200.11 serves up 50% more capacity than its peers, and at a surprisingly affordable $0.12 per gigabyte. But Seagate's decision to drop new platters into an old Barracuda shell may not have been a wise one. The Tech Report's in-depth review of the world's first 1.5TB hard drive shows that while the latest 'cuda is screaming fast in synthetic throughput drag races, poor real world write speeds ultimately tarnish its appeal."
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An In-Depth Look At Seagate's 1.5TB Barracuda

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  • I wonder . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:49PM (#25457511)
    . . . if lack of "real-world throughput" might have to do with other parts of the system which haven't yet caught up or been optimized for these huge new drives. E.g., OS, disk controller, etc. Just my .02.
  • by pseudorand (603231) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:52PM (#25457541)

    Has anyone else noticed that a large number of the Seagate 1T drives fail on you in 30 days. The same is true for samsung and WD. Even with the Hitachis I get 1/5 failed out of the box. I still buy all Hitachis though, because the ones that do work keep working. Why are we moving to 1.5T when the 1T are too buggy to be useful. (BTW, my epxerience is based on buying 100+ drives).

  • Re:Write speed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:54PM (#25457575)

    Speed can matter for video, particularly on higher quality settings. For example, using Windows Media Center with "Best" quality, according to MS's website, 60 GB will hold about 22 hours of video, which equates to about ~0.8 MB/s. If you are recording two shows with a dual tuner and watching a third that you already recorded, you're up to ~2.4 MB/s total throughput. If you aren't swimming in RAM for the disk cache, the HD head is going to be losing a lot to seek and rotational latency.

    Since a lot of home users only have one HD, the OS is going to be chewing throughput, as will the page file, and both will increase latency further. It all adds up. Not everyone installs 6 HDs with specialized purposes the way a geek (such as myself) does.

  • by Cynonamous Anoward (994767) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:56PM (#25457589)
    Ditto on this...Had really bad experiences with Hitachi and Western Digital. Swore by Maxtor for a while in the early-90's, and then a got several in a row that died within 2 years. Never used a samsung, but I've been sticking with seagate for about 15 years now, and they are incredibly reliable. testament to reliability: with only a little care and maintenance, I have now gone a whopping 12(!!!!) years with out losing a single byte of important data. The only problem for me actually is size...in 12 years without information loss, you really do accumulate a massive amount of data. Even with regularly cleaning out unneeded data and archiving stuff I don't need instant access to, I've managed to fill 2/3rds of my 1TB storage drive already.
  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:57PM (#25457607) Homepage Journal
    I know I'm not the only person around who feels that Seagate's consumer-level drives have taken a turn for the worse in terms of QC, and their customer service is terrible at best. But it doesn't seem like the other manufacturers are doing a whole lot to try to take over the high-quality consumer-level niche.

    Anyone have a recommendation for a drive manufacturer whose quality has improved over the years, and actually makes good consumer drives? I'm so disgusted with Seagate I'm even willing to consider Connor or Maxtor.
  • Re:Write speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bandman (86149) <bandman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:11PM (#25457831) Homepage

    I came into this thread to post the same message for the most part. Though as size increases, so does risk of failure [blogspot.com], as I'm finding out.

  • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:14PM (#25457889)

    Check to see if it was from Thailand. Not that I have anything against the country (their food is delicious!) but the manufacturing plant there has been churning out sub-par drives in certain models. Check the newegg reviews on your specific drive.

    As far as this drive though, I recently got this exact drive (the 1.5TB). The write and read speeds, though not documented, seem right on par with my other sata drives (one is 300GB Maxtor with 32MB cache, the other is 320GB Seagate with 16MB cache. Both SATA with the limiter jumper removed.) I only use the 1.5TB drive (actual space is about 1.35TB) for media storage, formatted in NTFS but used mainly in Ubuntu 8.04. It, however, was from Thailand so I'm a little worried. I keep all the stuff I've backed up on it on other drives and plan to until a few months have passed the trial. Ran seagate tools and the drive passed all tests.

  • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:25PM (#25458081)

    I have a very old Seagate drive (well, it says Seagate ST41200N on the top, but windows recognizes it as Imprimis 94601-15). It is a 1.2GB (991MB) 5.25" full height drive and it works perfectly. I have another one, a bit younger (ST34520N) ~4GB, it also works very well. All the new ones also work well, so when I buy a hard drive, I buy Seagate.

    I wonder why nobody is making 5.25" hard drives anymore... With current technology they could have at least 10TB capacity...

  • Re:True Tebibyte? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Pentium100 (1240090) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:30PM (#25458155)

    And it also looks better to write "200GB" on a LTO-1 tape and then add the fine print on the other side of the box (assuming 2:1 compression).

    Can anyone explain to me how this "tradition" (of writing double capacity) came to be?

  • Re:Write speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nabsltd (1313397) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:43PM (#25458409)

    Though as size increases, so does risk of failure [blogspot.com], as I'm finding out.

    That blog post forgets one thing: sector remapping.

    With any actual redundant system (i.e., not RAID-0), you increase the likelyhood that the data is still there somehow. The drive with the unrecoverable read error re-maps the sector and the RAID software/firmware uses the redundancy to recover the correct data and write it back to the re-mapped sector.

  • Terabyte Tebibyte? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:46PM (#25458453) Journal

    Please don't say that word. It sounds like something my 3 month old niece says. Rather, call it Decimal/fake terabyte (found on hard drives) or just a (real) 'terabyte'. I think it's pathetic people have come up with some new (baby sounding) word because hard drive manufacturers are too f'ing arrogant to make 'true' sizes. In marketing 1TB/1000GB sounds a little bit better than 931GB..

    Please don't abuse the word Terabyte, or attempt to usurp any of the other base-10 prefixes which were defined long before computers were invented. It is the base-2 interpretation of these prefixes which is fake.

    The abuse started with use of kilo to denote 2^10 instead of 10^3, often using K instead of k as prefix. This was relatively innocuous, since the case of the letter could ensure the prefixes were somewhat distinct. However, for 10^6, the prefix for mega is M (and m is also allocated for milli), and abusing this prefix to mean 2^20 is unconscionable.

    The kibi, mebi, gibi, etc. prefixes were created to solve a real need. The base-10 prefixes were already assigned, and could not be usurped.

  • Re:Write speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:51PM (#25458557) Homepage

    Uh oh, are you running Linux? Are you aware of the head parking problem with these drives?
    http://kerneltrap.org/node/14912 [kerneltrap.org]

  • by nabsltd (1313397) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:58PM (#25458701)

    Of course, everyone has their own drive horror stories, and there are many people who swear by a brand that others swear at.

    Overall, I've had every brand die in every stage of their lifetimes, and I've found that I've RMA'd far more Seagate drives than any other brand. It's not that they are any worse, it's just that with the 5-year warranty, they are far more likely to still be in warranty.

    So, I tend to buy the drive that best fits my needs and has a 5-year warranty. I've got Maxtor, Western Digital, and Seagate at this point in multiple arrays with a total of about 15TB.

    The only things I have learned for sure is that I'll only use RAID-1, true hardware RAID-5 or 6 (no Intel ICHx "RAID-5"), and Linux software RAID-5 or 6...anything else is too dangerous for recovery.

  • Re:Write speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by afidel (530433) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @04:35PM (#25459385)
    Yes, even 110xFC disks sucks for performance of swap, the problem is swap is orders of magnitude slower than ram yet it's made to stand in for ram at times. I wish there was an OS where the VM system was tuned to not need swap, but I've seen both Windows and Linux systems where enabling swap significantly increased performance even though the boxes shouldn't need it (IE a box with 64GB of ram and using ~17GB of it).
  • Re:Write speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@NoSPaM.pitabred.dyndns.org> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @05:21PM (#25460139) Homepage

    Swap? You need to buy more RAM. Swap should never be in regular use, only extraordinary use, and a few MB/s won't matter once the system grinds to a near halt once it starts hitting swap.

  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @05:26PM (#25460243) Homepage

    If you take a look at the newegg reviews [newegg.com], you'll find 16% of them give the 1TB 7200.11 drive a 1 star review, most of which are because of DOA or D shortly after A. So it's not just you who noticed.

    Seagate's Barracuda line had a good run with high reliability for quite a while. If you check the reliability database at storagereview [storagereview.com] (unfortunately you have to go through some trouble to become a member and see the data), the Barracuda ATA III, IV, and V are ranked near the top--92, 90, and 96th percentile respectively. Then things went way downhile--7200.7 hits 88, the 7200.8 at 49, and the 7200.9 at 43. That matches my own anecdotal experience.

    Sometime after the 750GB drives came out reliability took a further dive south. I believe that was caused by switching a large amount of production to a new plant in Thailand (the reliable models came out of Singapore). That seems to be the inevitable way hard drive manufacturing works--whenever some company moves to a new facility, quality dives for a few years afterward. I predict that 5 or 10 years from now talk will be about how reliable the old Thai drives were compared to the new junk coming out of [new country of origin].

  • Re:Write speed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ATMD (986401) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @05:51PM (#25460637) Journal

    There are two criteria for a media centre PC: lots of storage space and small size. Oh, and minimal heat production, so loud fans aren't required.

    All of this points to a single, high capacity disk as the optimal solution.

  • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @06:04PM (#25460785) Homepage

    The data from Google's study [google.com] say that lowering drive temperatures to below 35C increases their failure rate, particularly when they're new. I'm not sure I agree with the entirety of their methodology, but it's certainly persuasive enough that I've switched to aiming for 35-40C rather than sub-30C. That normally means the same basic approach you outlined, putting a single large and slow fan in front of the drives, but with some way to slow it down even further than the defaults if necessary. I don't hesitate like I used to in mounting drives in adjacent bays either.

    I suspect the true cause of the correlation you suggest (drives >750GB fail more often) is mainly due to the switch to the perpendicular recording methods that started in larger capacity drive around that same time.

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