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Data Storage Upgrades Hardware

Seagate To Stop Making 7200rpm Laptop HDDs 261

jones_supa writes "'We are going stop building our notebook 7200rpm hard disk drives at the end of 2013,' said David Burks, director of marketing and product management at Seagate Technology, during a conversation with X-bit labs. The mainstream market demand is expected shift to different products, such as hybrid drives. Users who need maximum performance and care about battery life have been choosing notebooks with SSDs for years now, whereas those who required capacity and moderate price do not really care about actual performance. With the introduction of third-generation solid-state hybrid drives later this year, Seagate will position them for performance- and capacity-demanding end-users. The company will also continue to offer 5400rpm HDDs for value notebooks."
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Seagate To Stop Making 7200rpm Laptop HDDs

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  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:20PM (#43057669)

    They're not just for notebooks. Quiet and small form factor conventional drives have a place in things like Tivos and personal recording devices for TV, etc. If all the manufacturers bail out, we'll have to build larger devices like this to fill that niche. Unless, of course, SSDs suddenly drop in price... which they should have done by now, but hey... p-p-profit!

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:35PM (#43057793) Journal

      I suspect that that's why they are killing the faster ones(which are slightly noisier and run slightly hotter). The market for HDDs isn't so much drying up; but strategies other than 'make the hard drive rotate faster' for making storage perform better have been getting cheaper and better pretty aggressively.

      With modern areal densities and codecs, if your bandwidth requirements are routinely saturating a 5400rpm drive, you probably have something a bit more serious than a DVR in mind. If occasional bursts are giving you trouble, you can put in a lot of RAM cache for what it would cost to switch to an SSD of equivalent size, and a mere 7200 probably wouldn't have saved you.

      • I'd bet that they have gotten much faster as a result of the ever increasing density of the platters as well. With the higher density drives putting bits past the heads twice as fast every time the density doubles, the additional ~40% increase in RPM is likely becoming less important, and for most people it's a better investment increasing the capacity.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @11:32PM (#43058407) Journal

          Areal density improvements really accentuate the characteristics that disks have always had(in addition to being cheap and huge):

          As you say, the density increases mean that the speed of the head in bits/second has been growing by leaps and bounds, even as actual platter speeds haven't budged in years. And, if you throw a lovely, contiguous, read or write at an HDD, you'll see results to match. Even a lousy little consumer disk can be pretty damn fast.

          Under a random I/O workload, everything collapses into seek hell, and suddenly it mostly comes down to how fast you can get the head into position(which really hasn't improved all that much and has always been a sad story).

          • It makes me wonder if it would be worth it to have a filesystem that was designed around the huge sizes of HDD's available today that would make an effort to write files as continuous blocks of data, and perhaps allow you to somehow define the approximate size of the file to automatically leave space around and even in the middle of it to be able to modify it and still minimize fragmentation. Something static like a PDF or image file could be set to not need this extra space, but if you were working on a l

      • "The market for HDDs isn't so much drying up; but strategies other than 'make the hard drive rotate faster' for making storage perform better have been getting cheaper and better pretty aggressively."

        That is so. But unless you want to build huge buffers into your system (and in some circumstances even when you do), latency is still going to be a problem.

        It's a spinning disk. It takes time for data to spin under the head. You aren't going to change that, and faster drives are better.

        To me, this looks like a real bonehead move on the part of Seagate. Unless they know something I don't. Which is quite possible.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

          Rotational speed isn't the only factor determining seek time. The head has to move over the disk as well, and it isn't any faster in a 7200 RPM drive. When looking at overall performance in a system having a 7200 RPM drive doesn't make that much difference, especially compared to the vast improvement seen from SSDs and hybrid drives.

          As Seagate point out it just isn't worth it any more.

          • "Rotational speed isn't the only factor determining seek time."

            No, it isn't the only factor. But that's beside the point, since that was the factor I was referring to.

            You can change the seek time of the head. But you can't change the rotational latency. That is a fixed number.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      > Quiet and small form factor conventional drives have a place in things like Tivos and personal recording devices for TV

      Nonsense. TV, especially HD TV is big, VERY BIG. This is especially true for terrestrial broadcast and cable that's still using outdated codecs like MPEG2.

      If you are talking about "things like Tivos", you need all of the space you can get. The "footprint" issue is not a problem. Neither is noise as such devices have thrived with large desktop style hard drives.

      A Tivo can use all the sp

    • by cgenman ( 325138 )

      3.5" and 2.5" drives are very similar once you get to the scale of a TV. And if you need performance, full-sized 3.5" drives go up 10 - 15k RPM. The difference between 7.2k and 5.4k isn't that great. And, of course, 7200 RPM laptop drives are absolutely not quiet, compared to other drives.

    • by KalvinB ( 205500 )

      The thing is, the "slower" drives are plenty fast enough for Tivos and whatnot. The drive is not the limiting factor on streaming recorded HD content. It's the CPU that determines whether your digital recorder/player can do full 1080. []

      The other issue is that faster RPMs doesn't necessarily mean better performance for your application. When dealing with large media files, it's pretty irrelevant since you're doing sequential IO the vast

  • Unless you buy a small one. The 750GB 7200 RPM hard drive in my laptop cost a little over $100, while an SSD of only 512GB is around $350. Close to $1000 for higher capacities.

    When shopping for a hard drive I've found that you really have to look closely at the specs. If you can find them. Even for desktop hard drives, there are still a lot of 5400 and 5900 rpm drives out there.

    • That's what hybrids are for. I just wish we could get large hybrids in the 'doze arena. One of those 3tb "Fusion" drives would be nice in my gaming rig. It seems silly that the biggest hybrid drive I can get with a SATA interface is 750 gigs.

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:30PM (#43057761)

    I predict there's going to be a few pissed manufacturers of 2.5-inch RAID enclosures.

    • Meh; once you have enough spindles, rotational speed is nice, but doesn't mean as much.
    • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

      why? the miniscule difference in speed between a 7200 and a 5400 rpm drive doesnt make a fart of difference for redundancy, which is the real reason for raid in the first place.

      • by macraig ( 621737 )

        Doesn't matter. Most people will buy 7200RPM drives instead of 5400RPM drives for their RAID box if they are available because the difference in price doesn't make a fart of difference. Those same people won't buy SSDs instead because their price and capacity do make a fart of difference.

        • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

          well, they wont be available problem solved

          (TBH I never even knew they made 7200rpm 2.5 inch drives, thats how much I care)

    • 2.5" rotating enterprise drives (both SATA and SAS) are a standard form factor.

    • I don't think it is going to make much difference. Not only will there be 7200 RPM drives available from WD and HGST (now part of WD), all of the Seagate Hybrid drives are 7200 RPM. I think the point of this announcement is that Seagate is only going to sell 7200 RPM 2.5" drives as part of a Hybrid drive. The cache in Seagate's Hybrid drives is transparent to the host, so the Hybrid drives should work just fine in a RAID.

  • "We can't gouge the customer enough if we give them 3 options.

    At the moment, there is cheap and low performance, not cheap and good performance and finally hugely overpriced and theoretically even better performance with an added cool factor.

    Yes, SSDs are faster but there are other bottlenecks in the system so the difference is not always apparent to users.

    The theory is that if they take away the middle option, people will choose the option with higher margins. Hopefully, the practice will be that they get

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nah, I think what they really mean is that the market for 7200 laptop drives is gone. The middle customer, that wants good performance but decent capacity, is going to choose a hybrid drive 9 times out of 10 relative to a 7200 drive - it's significantly (and more importantly, noticeably) faster for the things that people notice (bootup, often-used programs), and the cost premium is negligible relative to 7200 drives.

      Honestly, I agree - I don't see any mass-market reason why the average person would want a 7

    • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:58PM (#43058263) Homepage

      SSD's in this laptop cut boot speed in half. This is absolutely apparent, and I'd definitely swear by it as the most effective $200 speed-up I've put into 2 computers.

      • by smash ( 1351 )
        Hybrid in my MBP cut boot time from about 30 seconds to 13-14 seconds (from power button press, including EFI post). 750GB for 150 bucks.
    • Yes, SSDs are faster but there are other bottlenecks in the system so the difference is not always apparent to users.

      WTF are you on? Unless you are network bound the boost in random IO you get from an SSD are by far the biggest benefit a desktop user can get. What other bottlenecks? CPU, processing cores, memory? They have exploded in speed, network and disk are the only ones that haven't.

  • by e065c8515d206cb0e190 ( 1785896 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:42PM (#43057845)
    To all the whiny complainers above: they're free to decide what they want to sell or not. As a customer, you can always choose to buy somewhere else if unhappy.
    • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:07PM (#43058003)

      Sure, and people are free to complain about them. One way information is exchanged in marketplaces, which helps guide consumer decisions and price signals, is via discussion.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      To all the whiny complainers above: they're free to decide what they want to sell or not.
      As a customer, you can always choose to buy somewhere else if unhappy.

      You can say that now. But a couple more buyouts/mergers and there wont be anyone else.

    • There are currently more manufacturers of 3.5" Floppy drives, than of Harddisks []. There's 3 left. Count them WD, Seagate, and Toshiba.

      Just when ARE we allowed to whine and complain? When there's none left? As customers our options of voting with our dollars are getting very restricted indeed.

      • There are currently more manufacturers of 3.5" Floppy drives, than of Harddisks. There's 3 left. Count them WD, Seagate, and Toshiba.

        That was initially surprising, but the reason is probably that there is zero development cost involved with 3.5" Floppy drives. They can use the same machines to build them ten years from now if there is any demand. With a hard drive, try selling a current hard drive two years from now, not a chance against the competition. So staying in the HD business is expensive.

    • To all the whiny complainers above: they're free to decide what they want to sell or not.

      No matter how much you white knight a company, it will never reward you with an orgy of sweet capital gains love. Sorry.

  • SSD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by seifried ( 12921 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:48PM (#43057881) Homepage
    SSD's are definitely the way to go for 99% of laptop users (unless you need more than say half a terabyte of space), SSD == lower power, no vibration/shock issues, and waaaay lower latency. I've been replacing all the drives in my laptops with SSDs for a few years now, I can't imagine going back to spinning rust. As for large file storage in laptops I bet a lot of users can get away with USB sticks now rather than HDs anyways. About the only place for spinning rust now is as a tape like storage medium where latency isn't an issue.
    • Except for the fact that the spinning rust has 40 years of development behind it
      • So does silicon. We've had the technology for SSDs for a long time, just not cheaply.
      • by seifried ( 12921 )
        So by your argument we should be using clay tablets I suppose, they have several thousand years of development behind them!
    • Why do you go through laptopS in "a few years"? What use case are you an example of?

    • What's strange to me (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Sunday March 03, 2013 @12:17AM (#43058605)

      Is Seagate doesn't offer any consumer SSDs. Go to your favourite retailer and look for SSDs. You'll see Intel, Samsung, Crucial, OCZ, Corsair, and so on including a bunch of brands you've probably never heard of. What you won't see is Seagate. They do make SSDs, but only enterprise level drives, the kind of stuff that someone like Dell buys and rebrands to sell to you for servers.

      So what the fuck do they think they are going to do here? If they keep on the current track, they are in for a major shrink in business. There is a growing market for SSDs in the consumer arena, but they are not going to buy high priced SAS SSDs designed for heavy write loads.

      It really surprised me how completely HDD manufacturers seem to have missed the boat on SSDs. They'd be natural companies for people to buy from, already known names in storage, but they've been really pokey. Seagate only does enterprise stuff, WD tried a consumer drive for a bit but it was over priced and underperforming and they've cut it.

      They have a limited time to sort this shit out and get a good lineup of consumer and enterprise SSDs, or they'll find themselves being squeezed out of the market by all the new players.

  • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:06PM (#43057993)
    5400s are 90s technology. Sad that better than a dozen years later they are going to be the only option other than SSDs. Some benchmarks haven't been increasing that much since the late 90s.
    • So much for "innovation", right? And in the 90's (and I'm gonna borrow about 2 years from the next decade) we saw the ferocious increase in computer technology ranging from Mac OS System 7 and the invention of Linux and then Windows 3.11 at the beginning, to the first iteration of Mac OS X, solid contributions to Linux, and Win XP. Hardware went from a midline 40mhz with the 486 chip just getting going, to say 3.5 ghz near the end of the Pentium 4 run. Similar increases in hard drives and graphics/sound and

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        What really surprises me is how HDD manufacturers have largely ignored SSDs. There are a few hybrid drives but you don't see Hitachi, Seagate or Western Digital SSDs in modern laptops. Currently only mid to high end models have SSDs, but in a few years it seems likely that Samsung and people like Hynix will be the biggest suppliers of laptop storage. A few years after that desktops will go the same way, and Seagate will become the next Kodak.

  • Ubuntu 12.10 still does not support intel smart response technolgy. Added to that UEFI still has a few issues with Linux unless you are comfort with figuring it out yourself and don't even get me started about nvidia optimus. Google bumblebee. I want to keep around 7200rpm drives just for their simplicity.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    and didn't need a "director of marketing and product management" tool to justify their decisions. 15 years ago I had a bunch of seagates installed on my servers running 24x7 that lasted at least 10-12 years. In the last 5 years I had 3 seagates on a desktop bite the dust.

  • I've been predicting the 2.5" form factor being a dead end for a couple years now.

    The reasons are simple. The places where a 2.5" form factor excel are the markets that the SSDs are going to take over. For laptops, the power, physical size and physical ruggedness constraints are strongly in SSD's favor. Especially given the capacity constraints already in place for 2.5" hard drives.

    For enterprise use, the need for IOPS was the driving factor in packing more hard drives into smaller packages. Enterprise user

    • Maybe they'll reintroduce 5.25" HDDs after some time - higher latency, but would be really high capacity and cheaper than multiple smaller drives...

      Frankly, just for windows desktop usage replacing a harddrive with an SSD is such a huge advantage its amazing anyone sells laptops with hard drives anymore.

      Because 1TB SSDs are expensive. Yes, SSD is faster than a HDD, but that does not allow me to store more files on it. On the other hand, I would like a laptop with a 3.5" HDD.

      • by bored ( 40072 )

        Because 1TB SSDs are expensive. Yes, SSD is faster than a HDD, but that does not allow me to store more files on it. On the other hand, I would like a laptop with a 3.5" HDD.

        Might I suggest NAS? Or for that matter remote computing. RDP/etc clients on tablets/etc provide a pretty darn convincing environment for data heavy applications where the end result isn't a game. The end user can crunch high IO/CPU problem sets on a desktop/server somewhere while using the tablet as little more than a dumb terminal.


        • A laptop with a 3.5" HDD would be smaller than the combined size of a regular laptop and the NAS (or just external drive).

          And remote data storage can be inconvenient if your internet connection (from the laptop) is via a cellphone (slow and may have bandwidth cap).

          If I don't need a fast CPU and/or lots of storage I can use my UMPC (which has a 32GB SSD and x86 CPU and a keyboard). If for whatever reason I have to bring my big laptop, I'd like for it to have enough data storage so I don't need to bring the e

      • Extremely high capacity in one package isn't that useful unless it's paired with a similar gain in transfer speed. It sucks in a RAID setting if the disk dies, because it will take days to resync. Maybe it's great for a home desktop user, but it would still be better for such users to go with more than one drive.
  • Seagate's QC has gone down the toilet in recent years anyways. Even worse, it is following their customer support down the drain. They should stop making the 7200rpm drives, then the 5400s, then the SSDs, then everything else and just go away.
  • makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @11:13PM (#43058335) Homepage Journal
    Having gone from a 7200 rpm drive to a hybrid, the difference is night and day. Yes SSD is faster (i have one in another machine but the difference between plain 7200 and 5400 is nothing like the jump to hybrid. Hybrid is not much more than a regular drive.
  • if SSDs were made up of several smaller swappable/replaceable SSD chunks in a Raid 5 or 6 setup then that would basically put a stop to unreliable SSDs by giving a recoverable failure mode. It might also make it more practical to use denser and cheaper but shorter life flash memory in the SSDs.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein