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

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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      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

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

        by zsouthboy ( 1136757 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:19PM (#25457969)

        A whopping 2.4 MB/s (+ overhead, as you say)?

        You realize that most modern drives are able to handle 60 MB/s with ease, even the low end ones, right?

        You don't need 6 hard drives RAIDed to *watch* video...

        • Mod parent up.

          Ask any MythTV user about how they can record a pair of HD streams while watching a third with no skips. That's about 7MB/second, and drives don't break a sweat on that.

      • Who has only 1 harddrive that is tech savvy enough to need a 1.5TB drive and uses it to record two shows at once while watching a show? A non geek should be fine with a 1TB drive... or 500 probably.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          Anyone with a Tivo...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ATMD ( 986401 )

          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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

      I'm inclined to agree with you. Also worthy of note is that most of the other drives in the test are actually more expensive, despite having less space. And guess what, most of the ones on the test that come in at a lower price are also ones that are outperformed by the new drive on virtually every test. So yes please, I'll take 50% more space for better read speeds and less money, not to mention a 5-year warranty. I've purchased Seagate drives exclusively for about 4 years now, and have yet to have one fai

    • 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...)

    • 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 Hao Wu ( 652581 )

      I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of these drives are going in external enclosures. ... I'd guess the majority of these drives are going to be storing movies, mp3s and photos, where the speed hardly matters at all.

      I will not consider another purchase until USB 3 or Firewire3200 is available.

    • I agree. I got a 750 gig drive in my desktop, and its actually partitioned out, for three OSes, and one large storage area. All my other drives are used for storing photos and video, and are ALL externals. I care much more about how well the data holds up over time, and how well the drive handles shock, than the throughput. Shoot, my 750 gig external is hooked up via USB2 to my Dish Network HD reciever. Even when I am storing broadcast HD, you are only dealing with 17Mbps (a little more than 2MBps).

      The exce

  • by Warll ( 1211492 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @02:36PM (#25457295) Homepage
    I didn't RTFA but I can guess it:


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by noidentity ( 188756 )
      That's because they use perpendicular recoding technology []. Other drives with classic, lower-density recording look like this:


  • I seem to recall someone saying many times over that this was not the first 1.5TB, but that it's claimed anyway (with more specifics, like "first consumer") etc.

    Beyond that, insert 1.5TB ought to be good enough for anyone, and will it blend jokes here.

  • 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).

    • It seems like they'll either fail in the first three months or not at all. Given that, the 5 year warranty probably doesn't cost Seagate any more than a 1 year one would. I generally stick with the ES drives though and I've only seen one early failure there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pla ( 258480 )
      Has anyone else noticed that a large number of the Seagate 1T drives fail on you in 30 days

      No, not really... And though not a statistically significant sample size, I currently have four (three different brands) in use, with a single failure that came DOA due to shipping damage.

      I have noticed, however, that the 750+GB drives run a good bit hotter than their smaller counterparts, with the 7200RPM models even worse.

      Once upon a time, I would merely mount HDDs in such as way as to passively encourage dec
      • by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @06:04PM (#25460785) Homepage

        The data from Google's study [] 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.

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

      If you take a look at the newegg reviews [], 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 [] (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].

  • 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 C
    • I'm so disgusted with Seagate I'm even willing to consider ... Maxtor

      No! Don't!

      Unless you WANT to hit F4 to finish booting up your computer every time you turn it on.

      • Unless you WANT to hit F4 to finish booting up your computer every time you turn it on.

        Well, that depends. Will my system remain booted afterwards? Because the crappy seagate drive I bought was causing my system to crash when it was otherwise running. If the system is reliable enough to not need to be rebooted, I'll take a minor booting inconvenience for that.

    • Err... Connor is long gone, dude. Been Seagate since 1996.

    • When everyone are in a tight race to the bottom (of price bracket) it's hard to have extra money to pay for decent support staff. I've always anticipated that at some point this mad drive to lower cost will have to halt, as surely the cost of material has only been going UP over the years (petro that is the basis of nearly everything hasn't exactly went down over the past eight years despite of its recent (short-term) fall); it's logically absurd to expect price of tech products to continue falling.

    • Yeah, terrible customer support. I had to fill out this RMA form that took like 5 minutes, then I had to ship the old drive back, THEN I had to wait 1 whole week for a new drive to show up.

      Man, that was hard.

      Connor has been gone for years and Maxtor is the worst manufacturer of them all, where the hell did you come from?

      • I had to fill out this RMA form that took like 5 minutes, then I had to ship the old drive back, THEN I had to wait 1 whole week for a new drive to show up.

        Some of us remember a time when customer support was important enough that companies would be willing to cross-ship the drives - send you a replacement before you send back your defective one so you can try to get your data off.

        And where did you get the shipping material from? When I was getting ready to send mine back they told me that if I did not use the very specific containers and packing methods, they would void the warranty and not ship anything back. And being as I had already thrown out my ori

    • by qoncept ( 599709 )
      That's the nature of dirt cheap hardware. It happens in every industry. I remember a rant by the owner of an aftermarket parts store for Subarus where he complained about all of the 17 year old kids running drop ship operations from their parents basements selling $800 exhausts for $5 over cost. They make a marginal amount money, but not enough to continue to do business on, they are soon replaced by another kid, and the established, brick and mortar stores with good service can't compete.

      That's also (pa
  • More like a milestone-and-a-half.
  • Yowza! Bring it on! That 15-disk array just got much larger. Roughly, at the rate of growth of data at my company, we wouldn't run out of space for nearly 10 years. I think I can handle that.

  • 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?

  • Who cares about speed on a storage device? Show me some reliability data instead. Nobody that I know bases their purchasing decisions on speed. It's always relibability or cost/gigabyte or both.
  • by tivojafa ( 564606 ) on Tuesday October 21, 2008 @03:35PM (#25458241)
    I have a few of these drives... they are very fast for sequential read (>120MB/s sustained)

    However, if write-cache is enabled (default) Linux will freeze intermittently reporting a SATA timeout executing a cache-flush command.
    Tested with the 2.6.24 and 2.6.26 kernels. Other people have reported the same problem with the 2.6.27 kernel.
    Tested with multiple drives and multiple SATA controllers (different chipsets). No SMART errors logged.

    Thread on the Seagate support forum: []

    The workaround is to disable write-cache on the drive.

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