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Hitachi's 500GB SATA-II Reviewed 309

Doggie Fizzle writes "The specifications for the Hitachi Desktstar 7K500 are impressive. 500 GB of disk space, 16 MB of cache memory, and 3.0 Gbps of transfer speeds are about as good as you are going to get in today's hard drives. The only category that might be rivaled is transfer speed, but that would require RAID or an Ultra320 SCSI drive to do so. This BigBruin review matches it up with some Seagate drives to show off its performance."
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Hitachi's 500GB SATA-II Reviewed

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  • 3 gbps? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bill Wong ( 583178 ) < minus language> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:29PM (#13150735) Homepage
    3 gbps? Is that 375 MB/s? IDE/SATA doesn't support that! What's the point?
  • by Mochatsubo ( 201289 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:30PM (#13150742)
    For %95 of the population, do the specs of the latest and greatest matter?

    Yes, yes, I know we are the 5%.

    • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @03:49PM (#13151102) Homepage Journal
      For those of us that run servers, rotation speed, seek time, transfer rate, these factors are really not that important. What counts in the trenches is how much space do you have, and how reliable is it?

      Not everyone can afford a backup solution, some rely on raid protection, and others rely on a lucky rabbit's foot. Since I am in the 2nd category, (mirrors on anything that matters) I tend to actually look at cost per gb as the primary factor. If a drive fails, I send it in and get another one and resync the mirror. Every drive I buy has at least a 3 yr (if not 5) warranty. In the end, buying cheap drives is more cost effective than buying good drives, and is a lot more cost-effective than buying say a nice DLT drive and a pile of carts. (tho yes, mirror has pretty poor return on cost because of 50% usable space)

      As long as I don't have to like swap out a drive more than once a year, I'm quite happy with reliability of even Maxtors. (though I still am not confident enough in my raids to install WD)

      That being said, I wouldn't mind accquiring a pair of those 500's, though lately it's been getting a little tricky to find a FW bridge board that supports the really large drives. The last 300 pair I installed, (seagate even!) only one of the 14 bridge boards here would detect at 300. (instead of 128) Yes, they're all ATA6 and have up-to-date firmware, that doesn't seem to matter. WD uses their own "unique variation" on ATA6 for their big drives, so those are really fun to work with, I avoid them like plague.
  • Hitach's? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:31PM (#13150746)
    How can you trust a 500GB drive from this dubious "Hitach" newcomer who is obviously just typosquatting Hitachi's reputation?
  • It's not SATA II (Score:5, Informative)

    by QX-Mat ( 460729 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:31PM (#13150748)
    They dont like you calling it that. There's not SATA 2 standard as yet.

    It's instead, SATA 3Gb/s. Most motherboard manufacturers jumped the gun however and invented their version.

  • Deskstar? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Anyone know what the reliability on this line of drives is? After my experiences with the IBM line, I'm hesitant to buy anything with Deskstar on it. Just recently I replaced my ATA Deathstar (AGAIN!) and Hitachi sent me what looks to be a rebranded IBM. Same model, could be the same drive for all I know.

    I'm guessing the newer Hitachi line of SATA drives no longer carries the IBM Deathstar plague, but I'd like some assurance before plunking down cash on it. In the meantime, I'll tolerate the performanc
    • Re:Deskstar? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jrono ( 470199 )
      I have a Hitachi Deskstar 250GB SATA drive that recently died. Its death was similar to the many IBM Deskstars I have had. Fortunately, for Hitachi, it is outside of its one year warranty. Well, fortunately for me too, because now I won't have to worry about random loss of data as much due to using a replacement drive... After many dead IBM Deskstars, and this Hitachi, I will never touch an IBM/Hitachi drive again.
      At the moment, I am going with Seagate. 5 year warranties. I don't have enough personal
  • by Yay Frogs ( 886038 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:32PM (#13150758)
    My friend Ben had one of the infamous Deathstars; he had to pay shipping to IBM after it died, and the replacement died within one month, and the next replacement within two months, and the next replacement within two months, and he had to pay shipping and go without a hard disk each time. I think his fourth or fifth Deathstar finally lasted him a decent little while, or he got another disk.

    Anyway, if IBM thinks that's acceptable, I won't ever be buying one of its disks.
    • Hard drive manufacturers track their customers and sell them drives from matching runs. If you happen to get into a manufacturer's bad group, you'll just get lousy drives from them until you stop buying from them. Meanwhile, your friends will be perfectly happy with the drives they get from the same company, because they're getting drives from a different run. They do this because they want to dump as many bad drives as possible on anyone stupid enough to stick with a supplier whose stuff fails instead of s
  • when my Deskstar drive crashes after only a week of use.
  • Deathstar (Score:3, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:33PM (#13150764) Homepage Journal
    I still can't get past the stigma of these drives.

    Its like hearing about a new form management tool from Claria.
  • by john_is_war ( 310751 ) <> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:34PM (#13150774)
    Alright, so I'll lose 500GB of crap when the deathstar craps out
    • by vidarlo ( 134906 ) <> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:46PM (#13150843) Homepage

      Deathstar disks was a problematic series. It was the DeskStar 75GXP, the 75GB disks from IBM. They was using 5 platters, instead of the normal 4, in the same height. This meant denser packed plates, which ment less space for heads. This crashed. But other disks from IBM was entirely fine.

      Here [] is a page with more info on the DeathStars. And Yes, I've been using many IBM/Hitachi disks, and never had problems with the 4-platter versions. It was just that 5 platters was kinda exprimental...

      • by Kjella ( 173770 )
        Deathstar disks was a problematic series. It was the DeskStar 75GXP, the 75GB disks from IBM.

        No, it wasn't just the 75GB disks, it was the entire series of disks using 15GB platters. They were notoriously unstable, one day you'd boot to the "click of death". If you look at the class action here [] IBM has agreed to settle. Make your claim by August 29, 2005. I lost a 45GB drive to this shit, but I'm not in the US so I don't qualify... I got mine replaced under my own country's consumer protection laws.

        • Ah, ok. I'm wrong then. I thought it was that they used 5 platters. I've had three disks fail, a 60GB, and two 75GB, and all where 5 platters, and so was all others I heard of. Btw, I'm norwegian too...
        • by asuffield ( 111848 ) <> on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:03PM (#13151551)
          No, it wasn't just the 75GB disks, it was the entire series of disks using 15GB platters.

          Closer, but it's even more detailed than that. It was the entire series of platters produced at one particular fabrication plant. Which is why you get such varied reports about them - the same drives were made at (at least) two plants, and only one of them was broken (the cause was a bad retooling when they started that line of disks, or something like that).
      • The new drive also uses 5 (100 MB) platters. So lets hope it isn't the same design. Seems to me like a stop to take if you aint sure your high density platters will be ready on time...
    • Mod this up. IBM made a name for itself, and Hitachi bought it -- all of it.
  • Wooo (Score:4, Funny)

    by Francis85 ( 875901 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:35PM (#13150788)
    Does this thing gets perpendicular? :-p
  • by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:37PM (#13150798)
    I have the 160GB deskstar.

    Little did I know when I bought it that every 15 minutes it would make a loud screeching noise as it performs a self-check.

    There's no way to turn this off and it's über annoying. It's a lovely drive in all other respects, but I won't buy another unless I know for a *fact* it doesn't behave in this way.

    • I have lots of various IBM/Hitachi drives in my systems including 160GB, 120GB, 80GB, 45GB, and 40GB, as well as some 9GB Seagate drives. None of the Hitachi drives make any significant noise at all. They are incredibly quiet. The 9GB Seagates on the other hand hum very loundly, but none of my drives make any sort of screeching noise.
    • Try smartctl.

      smartctl --offlineauto=off /dev/hda should do that (yes, even in Windows).
    • Same here, even though i know it's for the best if it does that.

      For the record, i've recently purchased a 80gb 7200rpm Hitachi Deskstar after a faulty psu burned my old trusty Seagate. I needed the drive in a hurry, and was a little bit uneasy with the Hitachi drives (you know, ex-IBM...), but after 6 months of non-stop server use i have to say they're excellent. Fast, reliable, and very quiet - not as much as the Seagate Barracudas, which you couldn't tell if they were running or not, but close.

    • It's not a loud screeching sound, more like a little chirp. You are too sensitive, Miss Princess and the Pea. I have the same drives (two of them actually) and I don't even hear it over the cooling fans.

      The "chirp" is thermal recalibration. All hard drives do it. You can't turn it off and you don't want to.
  • Reliability? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ailure ( 853833 )
    Isn't that one of the more important thing with HD's nowdays? Sure, speed is nice but it wouldn't matter much if the HD crashed after two years. Having a HD that is only three years old, but "already" started to report SMART warnings. It makes me wonder how reliable the HD's are of today. I heard alot of people having HD's crash on them, and most of the time it's HD's from the last three years. Have they become more unreliable? (And yes, i'm going to replace the HD on this computer soon. I start to notice
    • I bought two Deskstar SATA drives and then a friend of mine told me that they were unreliable. Sure enough, four months later, and I've got a drive reporting errors. I've been a happy Seagate/Western Digital customer, and with Seagate's five year warranty then it's hard to go wrong. Sure it's a couple more bucks, but what is your time worth? (Not to mention shipping costs to return faulty equipment)

      I wouldn't take one of these drives if you gave it to me.

      • Similar to you, I've had a few drives become extremely dodgy (Deathstars mostly) and now won't use anything other than Seagate. I have *never* had a Seagate die on me.
  • by latencylatencylatenc ( 902299 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:44PM (#13150836)

    LATENCY is what is causing the slow performance of hard drives, who cares what the MB/s is (its good enough) its the latency that kills you more than anything RAID will not increase LATENCY. RAID can only make things more complex and make it worse (no system can be 100% efficient). RAID can increase MB/s but as I've allready said that isn't a big deal. What we need is lower latency Hard drives. We have enough storage. I don't need 500GB I want good latency.
    • RAID can increase MB/s but as I've allready said that isn't a big deal. What we need is lower latency Hard drives. We have enough storage. I don't need 500GB I want good latency.

      Mirroring two (or having identical content on many disks will decrease latency, since the disk with the heads closest to the content can hand it out. Besides, those shiny new 147GiB 15KRPM drives have 3.5ms average seek time, around 35% of that of a normal 7.2KRPM disk. This is a huge difference. If you have two of those in mirro

      • If you have two of those in mirror, you have 1.75ms seektime, which is quite good.

        Unless, of course, you ever write data. If you do, then the heads on both disks will be in the same place and so take the same amount of time to seek.

        • by Gldm ( 600518 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:17PM (#13151633)
          Unless the drives support an asynchronous write system, which they do. NCQ will reorder the writes anyway. Latency is primarly a read-side issue, random writes are not as common as random reads.

          You can always improve your seek time by adding more redundant mirrors. If we apply the formula the formula seen here [] where x is the number of redundant mirrors, we can calculate the value of p which will give us our rotational latency for the mean seek time (hence the 0.5 because we want the 50% point for seek times).

          Using this you can get 7200rpm drives to easily outseek a 15000rpm drive by using 4 or more redundant sources, and it's still cheaper for the same capacity, AND more failure tolerant.

          This is why RAID always wins. Quantity has a quality all its own. SCSI used RAID to defeat the SLED concept in mainfraimes, commodity drives are doing the same to SCSI, by playing with the same rules.
    • Why not just get 2 or 4 GB of RAM (or even more) in your system? That way, anything you ever get from disk will just stay in RAM, so you only have to worry about the latency once.
    • RAID will not increase LATENCY

      You are right, because most forms of RAID decrease latency.

      The more platters you have, the higher the chance that one of the heads is close to the needed data. Thus, for a constant size array, the more disks in your array, the lower your average latency. In other words, four 250GB drives in a RAID will have produce a better average latency than two 500GB drives in a RAID would.

      This is why RAIDs of 2.5" disks are the hot new thing in the storage market. You get a lot more
  • Queuing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by confusion ( 14388 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:45PM (#13150840) Homepage
    At one point, the IBM/Hitachi ATA drives had command tag queuing that allowed for performance that was more in-line with SCSI. The link is /.ed - does this line of drives bring the command queuing back? I've been looking for some new drives for servers, and these sound mighty nice, even if they are "deathstar's".

    Jerry []
    • Re:Queuing (Score:4, Informative)

      by modemboy ( 233342 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @06:55PM (#13152205)
      I believe you are after Native Command Queueing, which is a SATA spec, not a IBM/Hitachi only thing. Yes this drive does support it and the benchmarks in the article include it both turned on and off.
      Google NCQ for more info than you need ;)
  • 500GB finally? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:56PM (#13150890)
    Is it me, or have advancements in harddrives been slowing down? 400GB has been king for a over a year, and only two manufacturers seem to even have a 400GB offering. Just a few years ago, it seemed that everytime I turned around bigger drives were coming out. Have we finally hit some kind of limit for magnetic storage?
    • storage is driven by need. Especially with sata raid controllers becoming the norm, and 2tb arrays cheap and easy to handle the drive for huge disks has slowed down. Also the fact that raid5 means you can lose disks without losing data helps, why have 2 500 when you can have 5 200 for less price and more reliability and speed?

      Drive sizes will go up again, but not until mainstream users discover divx or its next counterpart.

      Honestly I think we only have 200-250Gb disks now because of MP3, when you buy a dr
    • Re:500GB finally? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by doormat ( 63648 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:09PM (#13151215) Homepage Journal
      Demand and the end of an underlying technology (GMR heads and parallel recording).

      Not many consumers need 500GB of HD space in their computer for email and AOL. But 500GB would sure be useful in a Hi-Def PVR. But PVRs are still such a small segment compared to PCs.

      Plus, tech wise, we're basically at the top of the S-Curve for the current HD technology. So we need to get the new technology and start the S-Curve all over again. We had a lot of advances when we went from 10GB HDs to 40 and 60GB HDs (one new larger capacity annoucement every quarter almost), but we've started to slow down and stagnate. I'm hoping things get going again soon and we make big advances from 1TB, 1.5TB. 2TB drives.
      • Not many consumers need 500GB of HD space in their computer for email and AOL. But 500GB would sure be useful in a Hi-Def PVR.

        Don't underestimate the demand for 500GB. The thing is, there's little demand for 500GB in a 3,5" form factor. Usually you can afford to use two HDD slots, and the collector junkies have a midi/maxi-tower or a separate file server with room for even more. 2x250GB is much better value. I've considered getting a 400GB external disk though, as there seems to be a fixed "add-on" price
  • by jpc ( 33615 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @02:59PM (#13150914) Homepage
    suggested that this drive get very hot indeed, as it is 4 platters not 3. Didnt really seem worthwhile to me, as heat is a major cause of HD failure.
  • Price per GB... (Score:3, Informative)

    by pe1chl ( 90186 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @03:14PM (#13150958)
    You get (more than) 3 7k250 250GB drives for the price of one of those 7k500 drives, so they are not very attractive for building a very large archive.
  • It is pretty annoying how, to this day, so many people get so excited about max theoretical bus speeds and confuse it for actual performance. The only time you will get anywhere near 3Gbps is during a transfer from the drive's cache. Otherwise, you are limited by the media rate and head seek time of the drive. These are the primary factors in real world performance. The bus speed is rarely a bottleneck for hard drives except in situations like SCSI where you would be putting many drives on a single bus. I b
    • Not to mention the fact that anything in the drive's cache is probably in your OS cache, which will be an order of magnitude bigger and an order of magnitude faster. If you want disk performance to increase, stick in an extra GB or two of RAM (that's why you bought a 64-bit system, after all), and let your OS leave everything you're working on in main memory (oh, and buy a UPS - if you've got that much data in volatile storage then you can lose a lot with a power outage).
    • Most users still have 32bit/33Mhz PCI bus, so they are limited by that as well.
  • by Thaelon ( 250687 )
    [brag]My quad WD 10k RPM Raptor array pwns this thing.[/brag]

    -Very steady- around 80MB/s sustained throughput from the beginning of the array to the end. Peaks of 104MB/s. Troughs of like 72MB/s.

    According to this review [] this 500GB Hitachi starts out at 65MB/s and trails off to a pathetic 35MB/s.
  • [] (UK) reported about this disk half a year ago! asp?liArticleID=38427 []
  • deathstars (Score:5, Informative)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @03:58PM (#13151154) Homepage Journal
    I don't think I'd use that drive if you gave it to me. That's a deskstar, aka "deathstar" in the sysadmin circles. I have a STACK of those drives at work, all doing the same thing. Power them on, and you hear a chirp-click-chirp-click that just repeats. The drive never spins up. Tried replacing the controller card on them, that's not the problem, it's something inside. That stack is actually not all of them either - a class action suit was just recently settled and we submitted claims for another stack of deathstars.

    We might have one deathstar in the building that still works, and if I find it I'm replacing it. Save yourself the headache, do not buy deathstars. When maxtor bought quantum, maxtor adopted quantum's designs, and now produces decent drives. Hitachi bought IBM's drive line, but they just inherited the crappy deathstar design and that's what they're selling.

    The only model of drive I have seen perform as bad as a deathstar is the old Quantum Fireball 6.4gb's, which tended to smoke their spindle motor controller IC. At least those you could swap controller cards and save your data.
    • I had an IBM Deathstar that was replaced under warranty with a nice crappy loud Western Digital drive, so it's not like I'm a fan either.

      But seriously, do you think the Hitachi drives have anything to do with the old 5 platter [] ones?

      Admit it, Deskstar is a fairly cool name, especially when compared to codenames like Longhorn, or product names like Windows Vista. It's so cool that you can call it Deathstar, and it has the heritage to live up to that name! How cool is that?

      "Hey baby, I've got a Deathstar

  • Big, but noisy? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey ( 83763 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:00PM (#13151164) Journal
    I don't want the fastest or biggest disk.
    Just the quietest.
  • by SubDude ( 49782 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:08PM (#13151211)
    Recent Hitachi return policy prevents me from even considering this line of HDs.

    I attempted to return a failed IBM Deskstar last year only to be told I would have to return it to the US, not the Canadian centre I had used in the past.

    I explained repeatedly that I had always returned HDs of all makes to Canadian centres and that it was prohibitively expensive to ship a DEAD HD to the US.

    Hitachi didn't care. I have never bought a Hitachi drive since and never will.

    I have been using Seagate HDs because of their 5 year warranty and have not had a single failure to date. Seagate = cool, quiet and reliable.

    Goodbye IBM/Hitachi, Hello Seagate.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @04:17PM (#13151269) Homepage Journal
    These big drives seem destined to be available only with fast IO interfaces. Makes sense when the data object is consumed at high-bandwidth, like HDVD video. Or when many concurrent streams are accessing the data, like a large scale (many users) Video On Demand app. The large storage capacity is reflected in the large transmission capacity: scaling up current data apps to more users or better resolution data.

    But the biggest change we have right now is the ability of individuals to have lots of items of the same old size. People watching their own videos from their own libaries of hundreds of movies. Listening to their own songs from their own libraries of hundreds of thousands of songs. Those apps require huge storage, like hundreds or thousands of GB, for a single person. But they therefore don't require high bandwidth transmission. A 5400RPM EIDE drive is plenty fast enough, but it still needs 500GB capacity (which density might require the higher RPM, but not the faster interface, caches, etc). And for consumers, the overhead for IO bandwidth is a waste of money. As is more than maybe 2 or 3 drives for RAID failover, which also demands cheaper drives.

    Hitachi's 0.5TB SATA-II drive is targeted at datacenters and multiuser servers, with money for bandwidth. So where are the cheap, huge, Personal Computer drives? Say, 500GB EIDE for $250?
  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:29PM (#13151712)
    On the one hand it allows me to store more pr0n.
    On the other hand, it allows me to lose more pr0n when the HD crashes.
    Decisions, decisions.
  • by file-exists-p ( 681756 ) on Sunday July 24, 2005 @05:32PM (#13151731)
    Is there any legal use for such space ?
    • TV Library. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cyno01 ( 573917 )
      Compression free video? I rip or download files for all the TV DVDs i've got, and more. Average 1hr show is around 350MB in a DivX or Xvid .avi. Seems like a lot of space, but its really only about a fifth of the space of whats on the DVD. Compression is good these days, but its still not as crisp as off the discs themselves. Sure having the DVDs is nice, but you've still gotta pick one, take it off the shelf, put it in the player, switch your AV stuff to it. Whole lot easier to treat the DVDs as a backup t
    • Audio production (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      When you do 5.1 production, espically for DVD-A, it gets real large real fast. The final product is about 100MB/minute. The tracks to produce it can easily go over 1GB/minute.

      I have a folder on my disk where I'm just playing around, not even doing any serious production, with a couple of 5.1 mixes in different formats. It's 6GB.

      I'm sure HD video production is even worse, but I don't do that.

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