The fact that Seagate Technology introduced a disk drive that exceeded 1 TB this week is no big surprise. The company has been steadily ratcheting up the capacities of its leading models for some time now.
What caught many of us by surprise is the fact that it was able to jump right to a 1.5 TB device so quickly. That's a 50 percent gain in the blink of an eye, something the storage industry hasn't seen since practically the founding of magnetic disks.
The company based its Barracuda 7200.11 drive on a four-platter design using the increasingly popular perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technique. The company also tacked on a 3 Gbps SATA interface that delivers a sustained data rate of 120 Mbps to ensure fast boot-up and file access. The drive is available in sizes ranging down from 1 TB to 160 GB with either 32 MB or 16 MB cache.
Seagate launched the device alongside a new laptop drive that pushes some envelopes of its own. The 2.5-inch, 500 GB Momentus is available in 5,400 and 7,200 rpm versions with 8 MB and 16 MB cache, respectively. What makes them unusual is their toughness. Both are capable of standing up to 1,000 Gs of non-operating shock and 350 Gs of operating shock. They are also loaded with a sensor device that detects the acceleration of a sudden drop and parks the heads off the disk to prevent damage. The sensor is said to activate within 3/10ths of a second or drops as little as eight inches.
The Barracuda represents that latest salvo in an ever escalating war of disk supremacy. Earlier this week Hitachi unveiled the Deskstar 7K1000, a 1 TB 3.5-inch drive that uses only three platters spinning at 7,200 rpm, allowing the company to claim a 43 percent idle power reduction. Hitachi also threw in a bulk data encryption feature that offers instant encryption/decryption as data is written and read.
Of course, when it comes to magnetic drives, bigger isn't always better. Earlier this year, Verbatim introduced the SmartDisk HDD, a 500 GB, 2.5-inch drive that is only 9.5 mm thick and weighs less than six ounces. The device uses three platters striped with the PMR technique and is available in both USB and USB/FireWire configurations, all for less than $300.