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Data Storage Hardware

3TB Hard Drives Square Off Against Everything Else 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-the-size-of-the-platter-it's-the-motion-of-the-actuator dept.
crookedvulture writes "Last week, Western Digital announced its intention to buy rival drive maker Hitachi. Interestingly, those are the only two companies with 3TB hard drives available for sale. The Tech Report takes a closer look at how the two models compare with each other and over 30 different hard drives and SSDs. The resulting data paints a detailed picture of the storage landscape and is worth skimming for anyone curious about how spindle speeds and flash memory impact performance, power consumption, and noise."
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3TB Hard Drives Square Off Against Everything Else

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  • You're Wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Monday March 14, 2011 @07:27PM (#35486412) Homepage

    Seagate has had a 3TB drive on the market for -months.- They were the first on the scene, in fact. How'd you miss this? They have a 64MB cache, 7200rpm SATA II / USB 2.0 / 3.0 external drive, with the internal drive version of it with a new, custom firmware to allow for old BIOS installation hitting the shelves at the end of March. You can take it out of the enclosure and use it internally if you really want.

    That's not "the only two." That just makes Seagate "the only ones that waited for extra dev time to make it widely compatible for non-techies."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Seagate claims to be shipping a 3TB flavor of its Barracuda XT, but we haven't been able to find one that's actually for sale."

      • Re:You're Wrong. (Score:5, Informative)

        by hawguy (1600213) on Monday March 14, 2011 @07:51PM (#35486598)

        If you want the bare drive, you can pre-order it here:

                http://www.provantage.com/seagate-st33000651as~7SEGS27K.htm [provantage.com]

        If you want it in the special packaging that doubles as a USB harddrive enclosure, you can get it here:

              http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148580&cm_re=3tb_seagate_usb-_-22-148-580-_-Product [newegg.com]

        • "If you want the bare drive, you can pre-order it here:

            If you want it in the special packaging that doubles as a USB harddrive enclosure, you can get it here:
          "

          Are these the same drives? If so, why would one pay $265.xx for the bare drive vs 159.xx for the drive and an enclosure to boot? Plus have to wait for it..... I realize that different vendors will have different pricing but it's a pretty major difference if they are in fact the same drive.

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            No, different drives, they are both 5 platter 7200 RPM drives, but the one in the enclosure only has a 32MB cache and comes with a 2 year warranty versus 5 years for the bare drive. There may be other differences like SATA speed, I'm not sure.

        • by antdude (79039)

          Are there any with ESATA, USB3, Firewire, etc. or all together?

        • I got the usb one and took the hard drive out. Case was a bitch to open, though.

          I put the 1TB drive it replaced into the usb case it came with.

          The usb one was cheaper and avaible instead of a pre-order item. I just use the 3TB drive to store my movies on so I was not worried about speed as much as storage space.

          It never thought I would ever fill 3 1TB harddrives. Heck, 10 years ago I never dreamed of have TB harddrives. I remember scoffing the filesystems that supported that much hard drive space. I am

      • "Seagate claims to be shipping a 3TB flavor of its Barracuda XT, but we haven't been able to find one that's actually for sale."

        You can find them here. [newegg.com] You can also find an article at Anantech called,The World's First 3TB HDD: Seagate GoFlex Desk 3TB Review [anandtech.com] here. There's a description about how to open the case and use them as internal drive. The Seagate external version is also $20 cheaper than the internal Hitachi 3TB.

    • by sribe (304414)

      Seagate has had a 3TB drive on the market for -months.- They were the first on the scene, in fact. How'd you miss this?

      They announced it May 2010 actually, and I've been trying to find one for sale ever since. Still looking...

    • by kwerle (39371)

      Seagate has had a 3TB drive on the market for -months.- They were the first on the scene, in fact. How'd you miss this?

      You're new, here, aren't you? Still expecting editors to do the things editors are supposed to do? You'll get over it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    *3TB internal

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3858/the-worlds-first-3tb-hdd-seagate-goflex-desk-3tb-review

    • by Kosi (589267)

      LOL, did you ever look into the case of such an "external HD"? Yes, it's just case with a normal HD inside, which you can take out and install in your desktop box like every other 3.5" drive (implying OS support) . Don't know what they smoked or snorted in Seagate's HQ before they decided to sell it only in the external casing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @07:31PM (#35486442)

    lol.. someone tell the super-aspergers at wikipedia they dont need to delete knowledge anymore... we have 3TB harddrives now...

  • by FlapHappy (937803) on Monday March 14, 2011 @07:37PM (#35486494) Journal
    ...I forget what is on it all the time. Sometimes I wander across some forgotten directory and it is like discovering a secret treasure trove, but usually it is junk. I'm not prepared to say "We'll never need more than 3TBs of hard drive space," but aside from cyber-hoarders, porn addicts, and legitimate business uses, the supply of hard disk space has clearly exceeded the demand.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      the supply of hard disk space has clearly exceeded our crappy bandwidth capabilities There, fixed that for you.
      • by Toam (1134401)
        I disagree.

        If I keep backups/digital copies of every cd/dvd/etc I have (and lets face it, I'm downloading shit, mostly), and many ISPs (in Australia) now have plans with monthly downloads (or at least data - up and down) of 1TB, I don't think that supply of hard disk space as exceeded anything. Obviously this would come under grandparents "cyber-hoarders", but still.

        Also, I hoard scientific data (and by "hoard" I mean "have for legitimate research purposes", but I am a bit of a hoarder...) which is many
        • by ckaminski (82854)
          I built a 6TB RAID array a year and a half ago, and in just that time I've managed to almost fill it with a plethora of a VM infrastructure, a TB of digital photos, and a bunch of DVD rips for my Mac mini. I'm in no way a packrat.
      • by enoz (1181117)

        Never underestimate the bandwidth of a Volvo full of HDDs.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          That's one of the things that I like about some of the new online backup firms. Crashplan allows you to pay for them to send you a 1tb drive for you to backup to and send in, so as to speed things up. And both they and backblaze will send a HDD with your files overnight if you need a large amount of files and can't wait for them to download.

          It's not perfect, but in some situations that's quite necessary. OTOH last time I really needed a file it was well under a megabyte so downloading was the most expeditio

          • by dargaud (518470)
            How is that different from keeping your home backup at work (or at some friend's place) ? Need a quick transfer: login, mount the drive, scp. Need the full backup: put the drive in the car and go home. I don't see the need for a external company.
            • by hab136 (30884)

              Sure, if your friend has:

              * UPSes and lightning arrestors
              * unmetered internet (or is willing to foot the bill for your extra usage)
              * 24/7 reliable internet with sufficient bandwidth to accept your backups without compromising their own activities ("my Netflix is slow, I'm disabling the backup")
              * technical competency to maintain the backup service
              * no children, dogs, or spouses that will accidentally destroy all your data (accidental format, grape jelly, or simple clumsiness)
              * sufficient virus and malware pr

        • by mldi (1598123)
          Yeah, but the latency is horrible!
    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday March 14, 2011 @07:44PM (#35486534)

      Starting putting all your movies on the drive and you will soon find out how wrong you are. This just means we might be able to stop compressing the hell out of them when we rip them.

      • by Joe Tie. (567096)

        Totally agreed with you on that one. I have all my dvds backed up to my 2tb drive, and use sickbeard to automatically download tv shows I'm interested in as they air. Combine that with steam, and space gets tight pretty quickly.

      • by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @02:02AM (#35488532)

        You and others are completely missing his point. He's not saying you *can't* find stuff to fill a 3TB drive, but that 3TB is now overkill for most people. Even 500GB is far more than most people use.

        There was once a time when no matter how much storage you had, an average person would *need* more. Then it became the average person would *want* more. Now the average person has more than enough space.

        That doesn't mean there are those with above average storage requirements. They are generally "hoarders" and/or AV pros or enthusiast. But now, as you are saying, you have enough space for all the video and audio you want, you are now moving onto compressing them less. At some point computer storage will be so vast you will be able to store raw, uncompressed data, assuming storage continues to increase sufficiently to do so.

        But for most people? They're already well served by their current drives. They aren't storing TV shows and movies, but as cloud services like Netflix and Hulu mature, and new entrants to the cloud like the rumored iTunes service arrive, these people may never feel the need to store non-personal media locally.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Yes, but once our bandwidth increases, there will be little reason to have a local store of all that media. Just download it on demand over your internet connection. Just think, if Netflix had access to every movie ever made, you could just stream as you needed, and wouldn't have to worry about buying big hard drives, or the problems of backing them up.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nonsense. You're just behind the times. Anyone with any sense is ripping their media to HD for LAN access. It started with CDs, moved to DVD and now blu-rays, all at jukebox instant access from any device in the home. It's called convenience in the modern world. Home NAS with 6TB storage is not for geeks any more, non techs that don't want to piss around with discs are fully up to speed with it. Maybe when you grow up, leave home, have a family, you'll want to manage your media pretty quickly, unless you're

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm in the boat going the opposite direction. 1 tb drives are nice but 10 tb drives would give me so much more room for what I need without the hassle of having multi-disk arrays.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      Well, for the average desktop with traditional inputs, maybe.

      Of course, if you process high quality photos, simply store your movie collection, or work with uncompressed/lossless files, you could probably always use space. Science will always want more space too for their data and more precise data. For the rest of us, the excessive size is probably a good thing, as the move to a smaller SSD with an HDD simply as an archive would be easier.

      But I don't pretend it will be good for all time. With the trends

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      but aside from cyber-hoarders, porn addicts, and legitimate business uses, the supply of hard disk space has clearly exceeded the demand.

      Several years ago, I would have agreed with you.

      I'm hardly a 'cyber hoarder', but between photos, MP3s, and movies (ripped from DVD, not downloaded), and a couple of vmware images with snapshots ... I'm actually finding my 1TB drive is filling up, and the second 1TB I back up to is filling as well.

      I'm very seriously pondering adding another a couple more terabytes. I can

    • by syousef (465911)

      ...I forget what is on it all the time. Sometimes I wander across some forgotten directory and it is like discovering a secret treasure trove, but usually it is junk. I'm not prepared to say "We'll never need more than 3TBs of hard drive space," but aside from cyber-hoarders, porn addicts, and legitimate business uses, the supply of hard disk space has clearly exceeded the demand.

      What a fancy way to say you have no imagination, and poor organisational skills. Just because YOU don't have a use for large hard disks, don't try and dictate what others want or need. You'd be better off spending the time organising your files.

      I've got several tens of terrabytes worth of data. No porn, sorry. I don't have any problems with finding data on my drives because my directories are organised well.

      My wife and I have taken a couple of terrabytes worth of pictures over the last decade. And now that

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        I have been prediction for some time that still photography will actually become rare. When a single frame of a video file gets to be the resolution of a reasonable snapshot, the idea of taking single shots will start to become silly. Why try to catch that 'just right' still frame when you can just record the scene and pull the 'just right' picture out in post.
        • by syousef (465911)

          I have been prediction for some time that still photography will actually become rare. When a single frame of a video file gets to be the resolution of a reasonable snapshot, the idea of taking single shots will start to become silly. Why try to catch that 'just right' still frame when you can just record the scene and pull the 'just right' picture out in post.

          There are several reasons why still photographs will continue to be taken
          - Space to store video will always be 2 or more orders of magnitudes larger. Capturing 200GB instead of 2GB isnt' appealing even if the hardware is cheap because it takes ages to process
          - A still can freeze action at 1/1000th of a second and less. The equivalent high FPS video would be more like 4-5 orders of magnitude the size
          - Stills are easier to manipulate and edit. Even stills from video would require finding the right moment
          - You

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            The only reason that space and processing time matter is because hardware is just not up to snuff yet. Give it time. It will get there.

            Stills are not easier to manipulate and edit than stills from video. They are exactly the same. The only difference is that with video, you don't have to hope you got the right moment. It is obserd to think that getting the original shot would be easier with a still only camera than it would be via a video.

            I never suggested that you would show someone a video. If
            • by syousef (465911)

              Stills defintely are easier to manipulate than video. To extract the still image you want , you have to find it. Lets say you know to within 4 seconds. That's 100 frames you have to review to find the right one.

              A 25fps still camera would make much more sense. You take short bursts when you think there's going to be action. We're already at 10-11 fps on pro bodies at much higher resolution than HD video.

              • by Belial6 (794905)
                25fps isn't a still camera. It is a video camera. And it is much easier to edit a picture that actually exists as opposed to one that doesn't because it happened 1 second after you snapped your single shot still image.
        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I have been prediction for some time that still photography will actually become rare.

          Try this little social experiment:
          1. Ask a co-worker or friend if they would like to see a photo of your girlfriend/wife/kids.
          2. Ask a co-worker if they would like to see an unedited video of the same (obviously not a naughty video).

          A picture can also be printed out in meatspace and hung on your cube wall at work or put in a frame on your desk if you are truly old-school.

          • by Belial6 (794905)
            You seem to be under the same impression as many other posters. Videos are a series of still pictures. If you have a video, you have still pictures. Thus if the camera takes video, you can show them a still picture and can hang the picture on the wall. Of course, it is impossible to show that coworker a still picture taken with a still picture only camera where the image you wanted to show them happened 1 second after your camera took a picture.
            • by MightyYar (622222)

              If you have a video, you have still pictures.

              Yes, but with video you have to keep at least a minimum frame rate or it will look jerky. Lets say the rate is around 24 fps, which limits your exposure times to 1/24 second or less. It also limits features such as the red spot used to help with autofocus, and redeye reduction or flash usage becomes impossible.

              Your solution also requires me to sift through many more "photos" than I would otherwise (at least 24 per second!), and increases the file size tremendously, since video compression schemes look miser

        • by b0bby (201198)

          It's going to be a while before this becomes a reality. I have a pretty high end HD camcorder, and the pictures it takes are nowhere near even an older digital SLR. The demands for the sensors needed for video are just different for those needed for stills; in particular, the noise levels from an always-on video sensor are always going to be higher than the same size sensor designed for an SLR.

    • by SheeEttin (899897)
      You think 2 TB is big? I have a 500 GB drive, and after two disk crashes (and much lost data), I'm still finding porn^Wmusic I saved years ago.
    • by Trogre (513942)

      That's actually a very good point. I'd really like to see a file system that can make use of excess capacity for redundant storage. With all the probability of hard disks having >0 errors approaching 1 as capacities increase, it would be nice to see something other than (or supplemental to) RAID to mitigate it. CDs for example have built in checksums since manufacturers anticipate scratches. Programs such as DVDisaster take this further. Assuming you only need say 1.5TB for storage then you could ha

  • WDC - WTF?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BestNicksRTaken (582194) on Monday March 14, 2011 @07:45PM (#35486548)

    From someone whose Hitachi backup drive just saved his bacon when his 4th WDC drive this year failed, I'd say this is bad news.

    Maybe its time to buy a shedload of these 3Tb drives before WDC gets their hands on them and they become Deathstars again.

    • From someone whose Hitachi backup drive just saved his bacon when his 4th WDC drive this year failed, I'd say this is bad news.

      Maybe its time to buy a shedload of these 3Tb drives before WDC gets their hands on them and they become Deathstars again.

      Newegg sells them in a 20 PK for $3700. [newegg.com]

      • Wow, they sure charge a lot for tat extra TB. The 2TB versions are about half the price.
        • by fnj (64210)

          It's quite a bit less than half the price. If you wait for one of the periodic markdowns or coupon deals, you can get the Samsung 2 TB for anywhere from $75.99 to $79.99.

          And the Samsungs are far superior to any of the other brands.

    • They really need to change the name. When I first glanced at TFA I read it as "Deathstar" - that's not a good frame of mind to be reviewing hardware with. Give some poor little marketing droid something to do.
    • by Kosi (589267)

      I have 6 320 GB WD RE here, running almost 24/7 since I bought them in 06 or 07 (the time when 320 GB was most bang for the bucks). Before, I had 250s from Maxtor, where I had to send in three of them in less than the four years my WDs run without any problem now.

      Pity that you can't buy REs anymore, as the price difference to the normal drives went from perfectly acceptable to totally insane (IIRC I paid about 20 or 30 Euros more for each, now they cost more than double of a "blue").

    • by YoshiDan (1834392)
      Funny; I've had the opposite experience - several Hitachi drives have died on me... I buy WD drives now and they've been fantastic. Although I think I may switch to Seagate if WD does buy Hitachi...
      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        I've had great luck with Hitachis. One DOA, but the rest lasting for ages under heavy load.

        All of my WDs and my friends WDs have died.

        Perhaps we should set up a Slashdot poll so we can all pool together our small sample sizes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @07:52PM (#35486622)

    Did they get the alignment between the old 512 byte and new 4096 byte sectors right for the Caviar Green? I know the performance is average, but mine doesn't suck as much as their benchmarks make out. The Caviar Green misreports its structure as 512 byte sectors, in an effort to be windows compatible. To get full performance out of it, you have to be careful to (possibly manually) align the file system so its 4096 byte clusters line up with the drive's 4096 byte sectors. If not, the Caviar green attempts to emulate 512 byte sectors, and has to do multiple accesses for each 4096 byte cluster read/written. On read, it needs to read the first half of the cluster, then the second half (throwing away portions of each sector). It gets worse on write, as the drive will read in a sector, write the part of the cluster that overlaps it, then write it back, then repeat the process for the second portion of the unaligned cluster. Get the alignment right and its one access per cluster, and the drive actually performs pretty well. Next time, WD might make life simpler by ditching the 512 byte sector emulation, and trusting the user's operating system to actually work with 4096 byte sectors.

    Oh yeah, turn off the Caviar Green's "auto head parking" "feature" as well, as under Linux the drive parks and unparks its heads about every 8 seconds, as the default "sleep" time for the drive seems to be marginally less than Linux's average time between disk accesses.

    • by fnj (64210)

      Or just buy a half decent brand in the first place. I have 432 hours on some new Samsungs and the SMART data shows power cycles = 6 and load cycles = 6. No brain dead head parking every few seconds. They run cool as cucumbers, too.

    • by dusanv (256645)

      There are no less than 3 versions of the 2 GB WD Green: 3, 4 & 5 platter. The latest version (3 platter) is pretty quick. I'm guessing they were testing against the 5 platter.

      The best way to deal with alignment is to manually partition [centos.org] (if you use Linux) and use 4K filesystem block size as well. But I think the newest Linux distros will work with 4K drives now (I know Fedora 14 and RHEL 6 do).

  • by ArchieBunker (132337) on Monday March 14, 2011 @08:07PM (#35486734) Homepage

    Seagate used to be top of the line as far as hard drives were concerned but these past few years have shown a drop in quality. My 1.5 Tb Seagate started acting flakey last summer so I ordered a Hitachi as a replacement while Seagate sent me a refurb drive. We'll see how long the Hitachi lasts.

    Back when 80Gb drives first came out I ordered one from Maxtor. Months later it started acting up and they sent me a replacement, which died not long afterward. A few drives later they sent me a brand new retail kit. At this point I knew enough to run the Maxtor diags before even formatting the drives. Well the diags said this drive was also bad. Yes I did run diags on different boxes to rule out a bad motherboard or cable. I decided it wasn't worth the $8 to send back drive number 6 (yes SIX) and bought a Seagate instead which is still in use today.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @08:28PM (#35486860)

      there's just no refuting the theory that there are 4 good hard drive
      engineers on the planet, and they move en mass from company
      to company. the trick is switching brand about 2 years after the
      switch. then you have about a 2 year window to find a new supplier.

    • by pz (113803)

      Seagate started tanking in quality just after they bought Maxtor.

    • Got a Seagate 7200 RPM 1.5 TB going out on me too. started off as a single "click" that is supposed to be "normal," but now it's gone to more clicking, stuttering, and garbled text in the terminal. It's going back. I'll try one more, but if I have to do this again, I will be RMA'ing it with the intent of it becoming a backup drive. Perhaps I'll get one of these 3TB.
    • If you want a reliable HDD, you're better off going SAS as they're considered classified as enterprise level hardware. Generally, they have a higher MTBF rating.

    • by fnj (64210)

      Yes. The Samsung 2 TB are superbly high quality, reliable, quiet, low power, and cheap.

    • I have a pair of the 1tb spinpoint f3 samsungs, they've worked reliably and beautifully for me for the past several months now. they're relatively cheap, not too loud or hot, and they're fast.

    • by adolf (21054)

      Ah, piss. This again?

      Kid, I used to have an Seagate ST-225 MFM 20 megabyte drive. I lent it to a friend, who gave it up for a debt (for some reason, the loan shark didn't heed my pleas that it was my drive when I asked for it back), and last I heard (it's been a long while, but the drive was plenty old long before then) it was still working just fine.

      The replacement 120MB Seagate is still chugging along just fine, AFAICT, if anyone would ever bother to power it up.

      But I've got a dead 2.5 gig Seagate. And

    • by dargaud (518470)
      Side story: 5 years ago my Windows system drive started clicking and whirring. I though "OK, when this dies I'm moving over to Linux". I needed a good excuse to make the transition, but the damn thing took more than 2 years to die ! Maxtor: not only do they die on you, but they make you hold your breath.
  • Aside from their shock-resistance, I'm interested in SSD's for their reported energy efficiency compared to traditional platter-based magnetic disks. The power consumption part of the tests [techreport.com] has interesting numbers on power usage that show traditional mobile hard drives being competitive to SSD's.

    The most energy efficient 128 GB Kingston SSDNow draws a mere 0.2 watt when idle, but not much higher is the 750GB WD Scorpio Blue, which draws 0.4. On load, the numbers go up to 1.1 and 2.0 watts respectively, les

    • My Linux system with upstart boots in 1.5 seconds on SSD (240MB/s read/write) or in about 20-30 seconds from a normal HDD. Not only boot times but everything disk i/o intensive runs better on SSD. Our buses have been getting faster and faster, HDDs still deliver only 50-100MB/s max. However PCIe SSDs deliver up to ~760MB/s.

      So there is a huge difference compared to traditional HDDs.

  • by dargaud (518470) <[ten.duagradg] [ta] [2todhsals]> on Tuesday March 15, 2011 @03:02AM (#35488780) Homepage
    Is it just an impression, or has hard drive technology hit some kind of ceiling. Those two 3TB drives have been available for over a year and there's no other identical or bigger model on the horizon. It used to be that you had a 50% increase every 6 months On the one hand I have a hunch that all the 5Tb pre-series and 10Tb prototypes are going to Google data warehouses, on the other hand I think that research budgets now go to SSDs. So what gives ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nzac (1822298)

      I would say that though they will approach a limit they stalled at 2Tb due to the 2 TB limitation of the msdos pt/BIOS (after 2TB it loops back and overwrites other).
      When windows finally includes comprehensive GPT support i would think that the demand for larger hard drives would increase so they will attempt to carry on the increase.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      You kinda hit the nail on the head - focus is on SSDs.

      Hard drive prices have been dropping for the 1-2Tb drives for the past two years or so. I picked up two Hitachi 1Tb drives for just a hair over $100 two years ago (still going strong, no complaints), on a special. Today, cheaper 1Tb drives can be had for around $60/each, and 2Tb drives for under $100.

      However, the cost decreases per Gb have been much more significant (as a proportion) on the SSD front. A 30Gb "cheap" SSD cost about $180 a year ago. Today,

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