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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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  • Write speed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qoncept (599709) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:33PM (#25457241) Homepage
    How important is throughput? I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of these drives are going in external enclosures. For the time being, 1.5tb is much larger than you'd need to be running any applications off of and I'd guess the majority of these drives are going to be storing movies, mp3s and photos, where the speed hardly matters at all.
  • True Terabyte? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:43PM (#25457413)

    So this thing will have a true terabyte of 1024+ Gigs?

  • Re:Write speed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qoncept (599709) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:49PM (#25457501) Homepage
    My point was I want to know how often the hard drive is going to be the bottleneck instead rather than USB or firewire, where all of them would perform (even more so than they already do) virtually identically.

    That aside, this drive actually performed near the top in most of the tests and middle of the pack in most of the others, so the author talking bad about its performance was pretty unfounded. And I didn't see anything in any of the tests that would make me choose from the drives tested on anything other than cost and capacity. The truth is, in the "real world" everyone is clammering to compare the drives in, you'd never have a clue which drive was in your computer unless you opened up the case and looked.
  • Re:Write speed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Znork (31774) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:57PM (#25457609)

    How important is throughput?

    For what I'll use them for? Not very. Looks like they've got great stats for bulk storage, and any more demanding segments I can stripe and/or cache anyway (with memory prices where they are, it's not like you hit swap anymore).

    Lack of speed can be overcome. In the worst case by patience. Lack of capacity, not quite so easily. So several of these are definitely on the shopping list. (Mmm, mythtv storage...)

  • by Warll (1211492) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:57PM (#25457611) Homepage
    When the first 1TB came out they were priced at around $400 if I remember right. This one is retailing for $200 or so. Thus its almost beating moore's law. Not that moore's law applied to hard-drives anyway.
  • Re:Write speed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mikael_j (106439) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:59PM (#25457633)

    Because obviously any disk not used for your operating system or applications would be connected using USB or Firewire, couldn't be that some people actually connect their SATA drives directly to the SATA bus in their computers, right?

    /Mikael

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

    by fifedrum (611338) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:01PM (#25457673) Journal

    speed always matters, just not as much as $/GB most times, at least where these drives are destined it doesn't matter as much as speed

  • Re:Write speed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Walpurgiss (723989) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:15PM (#25457899)
    I have 7 of the WD 5400-7200RPM "GreenPower" 1TB HDs in a raid5 array that I access only through FTP and SMB.

    I suppose 5400RPM is slow in terms of transfer and seek time, and being a software RAID5 set managed in software via mdadm likely also reduces the speed of the array. However none of that speed decrease is readily apparent due to the relative bottleneck of the 1GBPS ethernet connection.
    I assume that drives of this size primarily would see similar use as the drives I use. Given the experience I've had, I agree that the speed of the drive probably doesn't matter so much. I doubt many people would use a 1.5TB drive for their OS or swap space, especially if speed mattered.
    The speed people probably would be using some ultra wide scsi drives or some other speed oriented drive, perhaps the raptor line.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:24PM (#25458069)

    Wow. My first hard drive was 20mb. I bought a keychain flash drive the other day with 16gb of storage. I can go on youtube and watch playthrough recordings of games that had me going ZOMGWTF!!! 15 years before that phrase was even coined. I remember being blown away by how incredibly awesome the newer Sierra adventure games were once they supported VGA graphics.

    I remember how cool I thought it was when I could dub my dad's old sabbath records off onto a tape and bring my tunes with me on the go. It boggles the mind that I can fit dozens of albums on a single mp3 player. The Internet makes Asimov's concept of the Encyclopedia Galactica appear small and pathetic, we're seeing more and more scifi computer technology made real each and every day. Snow Crash, anyone? With how the economy's tanking, I expect burbclaves are just a few years off.

    Makes me wonder what I'll be thinking given another ten years of progress, what will be boggling my mind then?

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

    by eln (21727) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:26PM (#25458111) Homepage

    Swap performance is going to suck no matter where you put it, except maybe solid state. If you're hitting swap so hard that the performance of said swap is a real issue of concern for you, you really ought to consider buying more RAM.

  • Re:Write speed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:43PM (#25458407) Homepage

    No, he asked in his first post how many would be connected to a low-speed bus, and he clarified his point when someone else who couldn't read mentioned swap files. Here, I'll quote it for you:

    I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of these drives are going in external enclosures. For the time being, 1.5tb is much larger than you'd need to be running any applications off of and I'd guess the majority of these drives are going to be storing movies, mp3s and photos, where the speed hardly matters at all.

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1003109&cid=25457241 [slashdot.org]

    So if you weren't intentionally trolling, it definitely came off that way.

    There's a bit of truth to what he says, too. Lots of people use drives this size for what is effectively long-term storage. They use it for their movie collections, their music, their HD TV shows, etc. Without that, in fact, the market for these drives would be really, really small--limited, if I were guessing, to people working with video. Write-performance will have a pretty big impact in that market, but just about anywhere else where this kind of massive storage is used, it's probably going to be negligible.

  • by noidentity (188756) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:46PM (#25458465)
    That's because they use perpendicular recoding technology [gprime.net]. Other drives with classic, lower-density recording look like this:

    <>|--|--|--|<>|--|<>|<>|<>|--|--|<>|--|<>|<>|--|<>|--|--|<>|--|--|--|<>|<>|--|--|--|--|<>|<>|--|<>|<>|--|<>|<>|<>|<>|<>

  • Re:True Terabyte? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by egomaniac (105476) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:53PM (#25458597) Homepage

    ...but they are advertising this drive as 1.5TB when it's actiually 1500TB. That's 36GB missing.

    I am sick of this stupid fucking argument. A 1.5TB drive storing 1,500,000,000,000 bytes is a lot more sensible than a 1.5TB drive storing 1,649,267,441,664 bytes (actually 1.5TiB).

    Do you really CARE about the exact number of bytes on the drive? Do you lovingly count each and every one of them? Or do you just care "1.5TB holds 50% more than 1TB, let me buy that one". Since all of the drive manufacturers use the same units and all of the units are consistent with the metric prefixes, why are you complaining?

    Oh, it's because your stupid operating system reports your 1.5TB drive as a 1.36TB drive? Let me spell this out for you: all that means is that the operating system is wrong. Seriously, if the entire hard drive industry has accepted that 1TB = 10^12 bytes, why on earth is your operating system persisting in using an obsolete and incorrect definition of the unit? If it suddenly started reporting it as a 1.5TB drive, would that make you happy? The number of bytes on the drive doesn't change either way, of course.

    You can't possibly tell me that you really NEED those extra bytes a 1.5TiB drive would have compared to a 1.5TB drive, so really you're just bitching about the OS not reporting the same number that the manufacturer does. And that's the OS's fault for being stupid.

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

    by mikey1134 (628079) <mike@NoSPaM.abortretryorfail.net> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @04:00PM (#25458731)
    I would have to disagree. My company uses a RAID-5 for DB's and a RAID-1 for logs, we have yet to run into a performance barrier with this configuration. Mind you, a larger DB than ours (60GB) with more users than ours (100-500 connected users) might require a faster setup. But I wouldn't say that it's incompetent to place a DB on a RAID-5.
  • Re:Write speed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lysergic.acid (845423) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @04:12PM (#25458949) Homepage

    speed definitely matters. i don't like watching a 2 GB HD video and having it skip constantly.

    but the other thing that's important and less often discussed in reviews (or benchmarked) is reliability. with these large 750 GB+ drives, how many full disk re-writes can the drive go through before it starts crapping out (data becoming corrupted, or simply dying)?

    are these high-density platters just as reliable as those of lower-capacity hard drives? for reliability/longevity, is a single 1 TB drive preferable to 2x 500 GB drives or 4x 250 GB drives?

  • by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @04:15PM (#25458987) Homepage

    Eh, there are two main points which got conflated.

    1) A drive this size will likely not be used for high-performance tasks. That is, it will probably be used for storage of music and movies rather than for applications and swap.

    2) That enclosures will be slow.

    Point 1 still hasn't been contested, and the first "troll" post didn't seem to care to discuss that--he just seemed to want to attack the idea that someone would only use a disk this size on a slow bus. The more I think about it, the more it sounds trollish--rather than attacking the thesis of the post, he nit-picked in order to argue.

    Point 2--you're right. There are high-speed external enclosures, though in my experience, eSATA is fairly rare. I have a drive (used for backups) with both eSATA and USB, and I'd love to be able to use the eSATA, but so far, I have been unable to find an expansion card with suitable (if any) Linux support. Nonetheless, I'm not at all surprised that this was overlooked by the OP, but it's still irrelevant. If you don't need high write speeds, that should not deter you from buying this drive.

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

    by afidel (530433) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @04:27PM (#25459199)
    Another big market for big drives is archival systems and disk to disk to tape systems. I don't always need 15K FC performance, but if it was significantly slower than comparable 1TB drives I might just go with more 1TB drives to make up the capacity difference.

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