Seagate Barracuda V   
 

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Seagate Barracuda V 120 GB

Date: 03.04.2003

Seagate har fått et meget godt rykte på seg når det gjelder å levere svært stillegående harddisker. Produsenten er dermed blitt førstevalget for de som synes lite støy i kombinasjon med middels ytelse er bedre enn topp ytelse med desto mer støy.

Barracuda IV ble en meget populær harddisk-serie fra Seagate, først og fremst på grunn av det lave støynivået. Diskene ble likevel ikke like populære blant alle, grunnet sin heller middelmådige ytelse. Barracuda V er rett og slett bare en videreutvikling og forbedring av IV-versjonen.

Barracuda V kommer i flere versjoner, både med 2 og 8 MB cache, og også en versjon med Seriel ATA-tilkobling. Vi har tatt en titt på den rimeligste av de tre, det vil si 2 MB utgaven med standard parallell-ATA grensesnitt.

Vi takker Seagate som sendte oss harddisken til test.


 

Spesifikasjoner

  • Kapasitet: 120 GB
  • Søketid: 9,4 ms
  • Rotasjonshastighet: 7200 RPM
  • Cache: 2 MB
  • Grensesnitt: ATA100
  • Antall plater: 2
  • Antall hoder: 4
     
Les mer om harddisken hos Seagate.


Spesifikasjonene på disken er vel det som man kan anse som ganske standard, og ikke videre imponerende på noen som helst måte. Størrelsen på 120 GB skremmer ingen, og søketiden på 9,4 ms kan heller ikke karakteriseres som å være helt i toppsjiktet.

Platestørrelsen på 60 GB begynner i dagens marked å bli litt i det knappeste laget. Maxtor har til sammenligning plater på 80 GB. Plater med høyere kapasitet har høyere lagringstetthet på dataene, noe som igjen betyr at man får høyere overføringshastighet, fordi lesehodene får med mer informasjon per runde disken snurrer rundt. Man bør derfor ikke forvente så alt for mye av den sekvensielle overføringshastigheten på disken.

For de som ikke skulle ha fått det med seg: Harddisker som reklamerer med 120 GB gir deg ikke 120 "ekte" GB, men gir deg 120 GB i det metriske systemet. Man kan i grunn lure på hvorfor diskprodusenter oppgir IDE-disker i det metriske systemet og SCSI-disker i "ekte" verdier. Svaret ligger trolig i markedsføring.

Det som derimot ikke kommer spesielt godt frem i spesifikasjonene til disken, er dens meget lavmælte framferd. Dette er den egenskapen ved disken som gjør at den er såpass populær, til tross for sine nokså middelmådige spesifikasjoner.

Disken kommer også med en lang rekke fine sikkerhetsfunksjoner som f.eks. kontinuerlig feilsjekkingsrutiner som skal hindre tap av data.

Testoppsett

Konfigurasjon under testen
Maskinvare
Hovedkort
ASUS A7N8X Deluxe (nForce2)
Prosessor
RAM
2 x 256 MB Corsair XMS3200 DDR SRAM CL 2
Harddisk
Western Digital 7200 rpm ATA100 (systemdisk)
Seagate Barracuda V 120 GB
Programvare
Operativsystem
Windows XP Professional SP1
Applikasjoner
HD Tach 2.61
ZD WinBench 99
SiSoft Sandra 2002 SP1
ATTO Drive Benchmark

Vi har i denne testen sammenlignet disken med følgende disker:

  • Maxtor Diamond Max 9 200 GB
  • IBM Deskstar 180GXP 180 GB
  • Western Digital WD2000BB
  • Western Digital WD800BB
  • Western Digital WD800JB
  • One 120 GB FireWire (Hitachi Deskstar 180GXP 120 GB)

Testene av disse harddiskene finner du i harddisk-seksjonen.
 

Ytelse 1

Som vi ser kommer ikke disken så ille ut når det gjelder søketid, og kommer faktisk nest best ut både i WinBench 99 og HD Tach.


 

Ytelsesutviklingen på disken kan ikke sies å være helt på topp, og disken har faktisk et dropp til 20 MB/s helt på slutten av disken. Her kommer det vi tidligere nevnte med små plater tydelig frem. Skriveytelsen er heller ikke noe særlig å skryte av.


 

Sammenlignet med de andre diskene ser vi at denne disken kommer relativt dårlig ut når det gjelder leseytelse. Det er faktisk bare WD800BB som kommer dårligere ut. Denne disken har for ordens skyld tre plater.

Ytelse 2

Som vi ser er det et langt hopp fra Barracuda V og opp til de raskeste diskene i WinBench 99, som tester ytelsen på diskene i ulike applikasjoner som PhotoShop og Office.

 

Med en ytelsesforskjell på 24% i DriveIndex i forhold til IBM Deskstar 180GXP ser man klart at Barracuda V ikke er en racer av en disk, men ytelsen er likevel god nok for de fleste formål.

 

ATTO Drive Benchmark tester ytelsen på disken på omtrent samme måte som en database vil bruke disken. Hvis vi nevner at IBM Deskstar 180 GXP hadde en ytelse på omkring 95 MB/s i denne testen, kan man fort trekke slutningen at Seagate Barracuda-disken gjør seg heller dårlig i servere.

Varme og lyd

Det er dette elementet som er det aller viktigste når man tenker på en harddisk i Barracuda-serien. Vi vil i fremtidige tester ta med temperaturene som vi har målt. Målemetoden vi bruker holder neppe SINTEF-standard, men blir gjennomført på lik måte på alle diskene vi tester, og vil derfor gi en relativt god pekepinn på hvordan temperaturen på disken er.

Testingen blir gjennomført ved å feste en varmeføler på oversiden av disken (på midten), og temperaturen leses av etter å ha kjørt en rekke ytelsestester.

Overflatetempraturen målte vi til 38,6C. Til sammenligning ligger WD800BB på 41,7C og en Seagate Cheetah X15 på 46C.


Undersiden på disken

Det som likevel er det mest spennende med disken er hvor lite støy den gir fra seg: Å si at den er helt lydløs vil være å ta for hardt i, men støynivået er uten tvil det beste vi har hørt på disker som vi har hatt inne til testing. Ikke nok med at disken i seg selv er svært stillegående, men den "rister" lite i forhold til en del andre disker. Dette gjør at "ristingen" i kabinettet grunnet vibrasjoner fra disken, som ofte utgjør en god del av støykilden, er betraktelig bedret i forhold til andre disker.

Konklusjon

Seagate Barracuda V passer ikke for de som vil ha maksimal ytelse, og den egner seg heller ikke på noen måte i server-systemer. Det spiller heller ingen stor rolle, for det er så mange andre disker som passer til den slags bruk. Denne disken dekker et et helt annet segment av markedet, nemlig de som synes et lavt støynivå er langt viktigere enn de ekstreme overføringshastighetene.

 

Når det er sagt er heller ikke ytelsen så fryktelig ille, og når det gjelder søketid er disken med og kjemper helt i toppen. Barracuda V er på ingen måte en treg harddisk.

Et lite problem med disken er at den foreløpig ikke kommer i størrelser over 120 GB. Det hadde absolutt vært ønskelig med større kapasitet, da de som vil ha et stillegående system nok heller vil ha én stor disk enn to mindre.

Prisen på disken er omtrent den samme som andre 120 GB-disker, så prisen bør ikke skremme noen. Det kan også nevnes at disken er tilgjengelig i S-ATA-utgave, som vi vil ta en nærmere titt på om ikke så alt for lenge.


 

+
-

+ Meget støysvak
+ Blir ikke veldig varm

- Noe svak ytelse
- Ikke tilgjengelig i større utgaver enn 120 GB


Seagate Barracuda V 120 GB får terningkast (-)
 

 


 

Barracuda V ATA 120GBWe Turn on Ideas

Date: 23.12.2002

I remember when, just a few short years ago, I joined the Gigabyte Club. My first PC had a meager 120mb hard drive and actually held Windows 95 and a few games; I couldn't do much else with the computer, so I saved my nickles and dimes and upgraded quite a bit. In the course of one afternoon, I had gone from having 30mb free to having well over three and a half gigabytes of free space. At that time, I couldn't imagine needing any more space for quite a while. Even giants such as Baldur's Gate and Quake fit on this drive alongside Windows and MS Office with plenty of room to spare! But these larger drives didn't exactly seem to be as quick or agile, and the FAT16 cluster size issue caused space to start running out faster than I'd hoped. The Gigabyte Club wasn't so much fun anymore, as there was suddenly no such thing as "too large" or "too fast" when it came to storage.

Its several years later, and I've been through many more hard drives. I've gone from generics I'd picked up at bargain-basement prices (and ended up flushing data down the toilet, along with my money) to name-brand drives that promised so much more. But promises are not much more than wasted air unless there's something to back them up. My first name-brand drive (and it's three identical replacements) would fail permanently if I tried to install Windows 2000. My next drive, a 40 GB award-winning pick, lasted about a year and then gave out; the RMA drive lasted a week and then joined the original in the junk heap. A quick trip to a nearby office store landed me another 40 GB drive, this one a Maxtor DiamondMax Plus drive that was ATA133 capable. At around the same time, something else dropped into my office: one of Seagate's new Barracuda V hard drives. The Maxtor had proven itself to be a nice addition to my computer, but the Barracuda V drive was based on newer technology and had some hefty promises to back it up.


Seagate has never been a company thas has rested on its laurels. The Seagate product line offers one of the widest ranges of storage solutions built to meet the needs of all levels of users. From the high-quality Medalist drives that have served in desktop PCs for many years to the newest Cheetah 15k.3 Ultra320 SCSI drives, Seagate has excelled in providing secure, stable, and highly performing disc drive options. With the Barracuda V drive series, the standards have been raised higher than ever. Utilizing the new 3D Defense System for data security along with the latest in drive operational technology for quiet but blazing performance, Seagate has pushed the industry further forward.

Seagate hasn't forgotten the broadest user base, the home market. Although industry insiders and performance builders are working quickly to move to the new SATA interface standard, the home users that make up the rather silent majority of the market were not left out to dry. This review is based around the Barracuda V ATA, Seagate's offering to the masses that need the latest in performance and storage without having to upgrade most of their PC to use it.

Over the next few pages, we're going to take a detailed look at the latest offering from Seagate, the 120 GB Barracuda ATA V and see how it measures up to one of its most recognized competitors.

The Barracuda ATA V drive from Seagate is based closely on the architecture used in the award-winning Barracuda IV models, but has several evolutionary and revolutionary changes that make it worthy of the Barracuda V designation. The specifications chart below shows some key improvements. Firstly, the Internal transfer rate tops out at 570Mbits/sec; the higher the better. The Average Seek of 9.4ms is a sure-fire sign that this drive is going to have some good scores in the benchmarks; that seek time is even lower in our benchmarks and shows that they've taken tips from their SCSI drive department.


The 3D Defense System is a standard feature on all of Seagate's Barracuda V drives. It is based around three main points of protection:

Drive Defense

  • The SeaShell (tm) packaging (a rigid plastic clamshell) protects the drive against up to 1000 Gs of non-operating shock during shipping and storage.
  • SeaShield (tm), Seagate's exclusive drive covering, protects the PCB from accidental direct handling damage such as fingers and stray screwdrivers and electrostatic discharge from handling and other sources.
  • G-Force Protection provides electromechanical enhancements that help the drive to survive up to 350 Gs of non-operational shock when out of the SeaShell packaging and up to 63 Gs of operational shock.


Barracuda V ATA 120GB
Click a Thumbnail to Enlarge
The Seagate Barracuda V ATA 120gb Drive The SeaShield protection system BIOS Recognition

Data Defense
  • ECC (error-correction code) performs on-the-fly hardware correction for excellent performance.
  • Safe Sparing ensures the drive will return to the same sector after a power outtage.
  • CBDS (continuous background defect scanning) proactively identifies and eliminates defects.


Diagnostic Defense
  • SeaTools Suite diagnostic utilities are designed to make troubleshooting easier and lessen the need for costly repairs, returns, and replacements.
  • Web-based tools enable users to identify and solve common system-related issues.
  • Enhanced S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) predicts and prevents problems transparently before they effect the end user.
  • Enhanced Drive Self-Test (DST)reduces diagnostic time.

Seagate also ships their drives with the latest in silent operational technology. The patented SoftSonic motor is a fifth generation Fluid Dynamic Bearing motor designed for high speed operation with very little noise output. The SoftSonic motor is backed up by a stainless steel cover and damper, "form in place" gasket, VCM damper, SeaShield foam, PCB insulator foam, and built-in automatic acoustic management. There is almost no noise whatsoever from these drives - the documentation lists a maximum of 3.3 bels during full load operation, and with every fan turned off in my system (for a very short time, mind you) I could hear absolutely no sound whatsoever through the case walls.

Setting up the drive is easy almost to a fault. As the unit I received is pre-distribution, it did not include the DiscWizard software. A quick trip to Seagate's website and a short download is all it took to have the DiscWizard drive installation software up and running. The software presents several options, including the ability to format and transfer NTFS partitions. When the system is preparing to restart, DiscWizard offers the ability to print easy-to-follow instructions for changing jumpers and cables to fit the new configuration. Formatting the 120 GB drive and transferring 10 GB of installed programs and backups from the Maxtor drive took less than 15 minutes; a quick jumper and cable change is all it took to boot into Windows with the Barracuda V drive.

The Test System:
  • AMD Athlon XP 1800+ w/ ThermalRight SLK-800 & Vantec Tornado 80mm
  • LeadTek K7NCR18 PRO nForce2 Motherboard, NVidia UDP 2.00 drivers
  • 512mb (2x256) PC2700 Crucial RAM
  • ATI Radeon 8500 64mb
  • Seagate Barracuda ATA V, 120gb, 7200RPM, ATA100 (IDE0)
  • Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 40gb, 7200RPM, ATA133 (IDE0)
  • Pioneer 106s 16x DVD-ROM (IDE1)
  • Ricoh MP7083A 8x8x32 CD/RW (IDE1)
  • GlobalWin YCC-61F1 case w/ Antec TruePower430W PSU

One point of contention for some readers may be that the Maxtor and Seagate drives are on the same cable; this did not prove an issue, as the Maxtor drive's performance was not altered due to the setup. If anything, the fresh install of Windows on the Seagate drive (drive was formatted and only Windows, SP1, and benchmark utilities were installed) contributed to slightly higher scores in some tests and significantly higher scores in others. Due to the nForce IDE driver installation, both drives were listed as SCSI devices in the Hardware Manager; this has not affected the scores as far as I can tell and has had minimal impact. Both drives were regularly defragmented during testing to ensure as common an environment as possible throughout testing.

The following pages will stress the hard drive to the hilt. Besides the standard benchmarks of HDTach and SANDRA, we'll also be looking at how the drive performs in PCMark2002, HDSpeed, QuickBench, and ATTO. HDTach is up first.

HDTach v2.61 is one of the most respected and used hard disk benchmarking programs. It has proven itself accurate time and again, and provides useful information such as Burst Transfer Speed, Average Seek Time, and details of transfer speeds for all segments of the disk drive.

HDTach Tests
Click a Thumbnail to Enlarge
Seagate HDTach Test Maxtor HDTach Test



The Barracuda V performs admirably well, rolling in at about 900kps faster than the Maxtor at the top of the drive and a whopping 1300kps faster at the back end of the drive. Both drives' burst rate readings are off the scale, and the Maxtor drive slightly edges the Barracuda in random access time. I am pretty much unable to account for the "noise" on the Barracuda in this test; while it did outscore the Maxtor drive in all but random access time, there was much more variation (denoted by the thicker red lines) during the tests as well as some random performance drops. These drops occurred during repeated testing of the Barracuda but in different locations near the front of the drive.

The Barracuda V drive has performed admirably in this test. While much larger than its testing counterpart, it is still nimble across the entire platter area and has a consistent performance curve. Big and slow this drive is not, but we still have several tests to go to find out.


SiSoft's SANDRA is another well-recognized name in reviewing and benchmarking. SANDRA's hard drive benchmarking combines several read and write tests for an overall score. In the following tests, the default settings were used; the drive was accessed directly without using the Windows cache.

SANDRA Tests
Click a Thumbnail to Enlarge
Seagate SANDRA Test Maxtor SANDRA Test

I was very surprised to see the numbers on both of these drives; using the shipping drivers with my previous nForce board, I had become used to seeing scores with the Maxtor drive in the mid teens (usually around 16000kB/s). Apparently, the nForce2 motherboard and NVidia's IDE drivers had a few tricks up the proverbial sleeve.

The Seagate Barracuda V performed as I expected it to. Buffered Read and Write tests were within a few megabytes of each other, as were Sequential and Random Read and Write tests. Overall, the Drive Index Score of 28173kB/s was much higher than I'd ever seen on any computer I've built. SANDRA also listed a Average Access Time of 6 milliseconds; while this is a rather amazing number, it was repeated several times during testing. The Maxtor drive outscored the Barracuda in the Buffered and Random Read/Write tests, but the Sequential Read/Write tests, and Access Time went to the Barracuda. The Maxtor drive's Drive Index of just over 26000kB/s is nothing to scoff at, but it was bested by the Barracuda.


PCMark2002 is a general system benchmark made by FutureMark (formerly MadOnion). Like SANDRA, it uses several read and write tests to determine an overall score for the components. While a somewhat ambiguous score is given after the testing procedure, reviewing the log details does provide information on each drives’ performance.

PCMark2002 Tests
Click a Thumbnail to Enlarge
Seagate PCMark2002 Score Seagate PCMark2002 Details Maxtor PCMark2002 Score Maxtor PCMark2002 Details

In three of the five tests, the Barracuda V drive is slightly ahead of its smaller competitor. In cached file transfers, the Maxtor drive has a slight edge over the Seagate drive in cached reading, but the roles are reversed for the cached write portion. The Seagate drive pulls ahead convincingly in the uncached tests, with a 0.8mB/s lead in uncached reading and a hefty 12.4mB/s lead in uncached writing. File copy speeds were neck and neck and within close enough distance of each other to be called a tie. According to PCMark2002, the difference in uncached writing is enough to warrant a sizeable lead for the Barracuda V drive in their final scoring system, with a 986 score as compared to the 866 score for the Maxtor drive.


While starting work on this review, I did a search for benchmarking utilities that would provide a broad spectrum of transfer options. ATTO popped up as a utility that should be used, and it became the program that I spent the most time with through the duration of the review. The broad spectrum of possibilities with ATTO would be a review in and of itself, and the result was almost 80 screenshots representing a small portion of possible testing. Out of a need to save time, space, and sanity, the following tests were pared down to Direct I/O tests with a queue depth of 4 levels. These tests are much like those used by SiSoft SANDRA, only with a smaller command queue depth and more common file sizes. The scores for each graph were determined by either the read or write scores for each respective graph.

Seagate ATTO Tests
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Seagate 64kb Transfer Test Seagate 128kb Transfer Test Seagate 256kb Transfer Test Seagate 512kb Transfer Test Seagate 1mb Transfer Test~
Seagate 2mb Transfer Test Seagate 4mb Transfer Test Seagate 8mb Transfer Test Seagate 16mb Transfer Test Seagate 32mb Transfer Test

Maxtor ATTO Tests
Click a Thumbnail to Enlarge
Maxtor 64kb Transfer Test Maxtor 128kb Transfer Test Maxtor 256kb Transfer Test Maxtor 512kb Transfer Test Maxtor 1mb Transfer Test~
Maxtor 2mb Transfer Test Maxtor 4mb Transfer Test Maxtor 8mb Transfer Test Maxtor 16mb Transfer Test Maxtor 16mb Transfer Test

In the smaller file sizes, both drives show better ability for transfer than with larger files. Notably, the Maxtor drive seems to take the Read crown as it consistently outperforms the Barracuda drive in smaller file reads; the gap narrows as the file size increases, with both drives taking a performance hit between the 1mb and 2mb file sizes. The drop-off in performance at 512kb for the Seagate drive was unexplainable, but has been reproduced several times.


Things are much closer in the writing test, and the Seagate has less of a drop between the 1mb and 2mb file sizes than the Maxtor drive. The results are close enough to be within an acceptable margin of error, but the Maxtor drive still manages to slightly edge the Seagate in this performance benchmark.

One thing of note was the anomalous readings around the 1mb transfer file for each drive. The Barracuda V drive had Write transfers almost twice as fast as its Read transfers from 512kb to 2mb; the Maxtor drive achieved the same thing in opposite, with the 1mb read test benchmarking at five times faster than the same write test.

As can be found in the screenshots, the “sweet spot” for data transfer for each drive is either the 128kb or 256kb transfer size; both drives showed the best performance in that range, which may be of importance to those people planning on using either of these drives for RAID purposes.

The last two tests are fairly academic. The HD Speed and Quick Bench programs test the sequential reading speed of the hard drives; Quick Bench also lists the current CPU usage during transfer, and HD Speed has a burst-mode option to test high level data movement. All tests were run for 5 minutes, with a screenshot taken as close to the 5:00 mark as possible.

HD Speed Tests
Click a Thumbnail to Enlarge
Seagate Read Test Seagate Burst Speed Test Maxtor Read Test Maxtor Burst Speed Test


The results from the HD Speed tests reinforce the transfer tests from some of the previous benchmarks, notably the HDTach average read speed, the PCMark2002 results, and the Sequential Read test in SiSoft’s SANDRA. In the standard test, the Seagate drive leads the Maxtor drive by a very small margin. When the Burst Read option is turned on the Barracuda V drive moves quite a bit ahead of the Maxtor, gaining around a 27% lead.

QuickBench Speed Tests
Click a Thumbnail to Enlarge
Seagate Quick Bench Sequential Read Test Maxtor Quick Bench Sequential Read Test

Quick Bench confirms the above results, only without offering a Burst Rate test. Just as in the HDTach and HD Speed tests, the drives are within 3mB/s of each other in sustained reading tests with the Barracuda V taking the slight lead.

That’s it for the benchmarks, the closing comments are next.

After well over 2 days of putting this drive through repeated tests, another 2 days of pouring over the information and trying to decide on what should make the final cut, I have to say that the drive has survived where I almost haven’t. It’s been silent, reliable, and (with the help of a 120mm fan a few inches away) cool to the touch. Everything just seems peppier, from booting up the computer to editing the pictures for this review. And, thanks to the 120 GB of data storage space in this drive, I have not had to worry about what needed to be backed up and removed before starting the benchmarking and editing sessions.


Although it still uses the ATA100 drive interface instead of the newer ATA133, this drive has shown itself capable of transferring quite a bit of data very quickly. With the exception of the performance around the 1mb mark in the ATTO tests, this drive has shown consistent top-notch performance across the whole range of testing media. The setup software was intuitive and feature-rich and made preparing the system a breeze. When it comes down to it, I can’t think of a single negative or even concerning experience I’ve had with this drive, it’s just that good.

The only minor thing that leaves me slightly weary is the 1-Year warranty, but seeing as this is now the industry standard, I can't fault Seagate for going that route as well. Only Samsung still offers a 3-year warranty on their ATA Hard disks. Also, the Barracuda V still only uses ATA/100, but again, we can see some reasoning behind this; ATA/133 doesn't offer any justifiable increase in performance over ATA/100. Instead, Seagate chose to skirt this short-coming by hoping over to 150MB/sec Serial-ATA.

Seagate has outdone itself with this fine drive. They’ve taken a reliable name with proven performance, updated it with the latest data transfer technologies, protected it with the best in data security hardware and software solutions, and packed it with enough storage to handle the most immense of needs. The 120 GB Barracuda V ATA drive is a solid choice for anyone looking for massive storage capabilities and nimble, reliable performance.

 

  • Extremely sturdy design
  • 80GB platter aerial density
  • SeaShield Protection system
  • Quiet, fast motor
  • Excellent software support
  • No speed penalty for capacity
  • Slight performance dip in smaller file transfers
  • 1-Year Warranty

 


 

Date: 20.10.2002

Introduction:

There are several things you can't avoid using when you touch a computer, a secondary storage device is one of them, namely hard drives.  Of all the hardware a person will upgrade over the years, a hard drive isn't usually one of them.  Though, you might add it to your existing hard drive configuration.

Here is an excerpt from the Ontrack In-Lab Data Recovery review that gives some basic info on hard drives.

Invented back in the late 1940's and known then as "fixed disks," they have become known as "hard drives" because of the introduction of the "floppy disk."  Since then, hard drives have come along way.  Many of the top of the line hard drives, early in its conception, had only a few megabytes.  Now, the typical consumer hard drive can hold as much as 120GB.

Though hard drives have come along way in the past half-century, much has remained the same.  They still operate on a simple concept of binary code.  Data is stored in 1s and 0s, known as bits.  Hard drives are usually made up of platters, made of aluminum or glass, and each platter contains more than several billion of bits.  Magnetic writing heads, within the hard drive, use an impulse to store a bit.  The higher the capacity of each platter, the higher the density, which means you can pack more information into a given amount of space.

IT professions and system designers deal with hundreds, if not thousands, of hard drives on a given day, so I will take a cue from them.  They look at three main aspects: heat emissions, power consumption, and durability.  Heat is a constant threat to systems, even for the mainstream system designers like Compaq and Dell.  The announcement of the Barracuda V hits a technological landmark.  It is the first hard drive to use 60GB platters (also referred to as discs).  Why does this matter with heat?  Well, heat from hard drives is derived from the motor, which spins the platters.  The more platters contained within a single drive the more powerful the motor must be, ergo more heat and more power consumption.  The higher the power consumption the more it costs to maintain/operate the given system.  So here in lies the problem.  The most direct approach to remedy this is a higher density platter.  This solution allows a hard drive manufacturer to produce the same or higher capacity hard drive with lower heat emissions and lower power consumptions.

The other feature that IT pros and system designers look at is durability.  Hard drives are commonly moved around by method of racks or individual servers.  A simple jarring could have the effect of misaligning the heads in the drive, making the drive unusable.  So these people shop for drives that can sustain high shock levels.  The new Seagate Barracuda V features the Seagate trademark 3D Defense System, something we will take a look further into the review.

The Industry:

There are several key players in the hard drive sector of the secondary storage industry.  Maxtor, IBM, Western Digital, and Seagate (listed in no specific order) are the most notable and most important.  Maxtor and Western Digital for the most part play on the value niche, producing and offering cost effective solutions.  This isn't to say that they make crappy drives.  Rather, these drives don't carry the same amount of features found in those performance or durability focused.  IBM looks toward business and the performance niche.  Like I have stated for the value driven drives, IBM doesn't make crappy drives.  They just tend to focus toward the performance niche.  Meanwhile, Seagate has typically marketed toward the "well rounded" features niche, trying to cover all of the ground.  They have tried to offer an equal balance of durability, performance, and value.  So far, they have done well.  The durability, performance, and value offer has caught the eye of industrial system designers.  The majority of those that I know choose Seagate for that reason.  This is only reinforced, as Seagate has figures that show they sell more ATA and SCSI/FC drives than anyone else.

Hitachi, Fujitsu, and Samsung are minor players as they don't hold as much of market share as the "Big Four."  Typically, these three are bigger overseas.  However, they can be found domestically through select retailers.  You probably should be aware that you have a better chance of finding them in name brand pre-built systems, since they do more contract work than selling direct to the customer.  Where is Quantum? Well, Quantum has sold their hard drive division Maxtor.  IBM, in the meantime, has sold their hard drive division to Hitachi.  The result will be temporary joint venture of IBM/Hitachi, with Hitachi supporting 70% of operation.  After a time, IBM is expected to withdraw completely and relinquish their holdings.  Though I should note, IBM will still be selling their own brand of drives for a while.

The Drive:

    

The Barracuda ATA V, in this case the ST3120023A, comes like most hard drives do, though packed with a SeaShell (looked at later in the review).  Immediately, I found several substantial differences.  First off, this drive came heavier than its IBM 120GXP counterpart.  Also, the top plate of the hard drive is somewhat inset into the hard drive case.  The SeaShield is, also, not commonly seen in a hard drive, which is the plate placed over the PCB.  However, this is not new Seagate technology; though, no one else offers this.

Since this drive has a capacity of 120GB and uses 60GB platters, there are two discs in the drive.  You may think that all Barracuda ATA V don't use 60GB platters because of the Barracuda ATA V 40GB and 80GB models.  This may also be the conclusion you reach for hard drive lines from other makers that claim to use a specific capacity platter, but are also produced different numerical factor drives in the same line.  However, this is only partially true.  The Barracuda V (ATA and SATA) line is a good example.    The 40GB model actually uses a 60GB platter, but the extra 20GB of space is "destroyed" so that it cannot be used.  It could be considered a "40GB platter" therefore, but the 60GB technology is actually used.  I should mention that this isn't always the case.  Sometimes a hard drive line does use different platter sizes for the difference capacity hard drives in the same line, such is the Western Digital WD2000.  On this particular Seagate Barracuda ATA V 120GB, there are 240,067,800 sectors, which is a lot when you consider there are 512 bytes per sector.

Specifications:

Seagate Barracuda ATA V: SR3120023A

- Capacity: 120GB
- Discs: 2
- Spindle Speed: 7,200 RPM
- Average Seek Time: 9.4 ms
- Interface: Ultra ATA/100
- Maximum Internal Transfer Rate: 570 Mb/sec
- Sustained Transfer Rate: 27 - 44 MB/sec
- Idle Acoustics: 2.5db
- Size: 26.1mm x 101.85mm x 146.56mm (LxWxH)
- Weight: 1.4lb

Features:

- 7,200 RPM
- 350Gs of Non-Operating Shock
- 2MB cache buffer
- 3D Defense System
- SoftSonic FDB motor


 

 

The 3D Defense System - Seagate Exclusive:

Read about the 3D Defense System from Seagate's white papers.

Seagate's exclusive 3D Defense System leads the industry as the most robust drive protection package, and ensures customers get the high-quality, high-reliability disc drives they expect from Seagate. 3D Defense System refers to a bundle of Seagate features for Personal Storage and Enterprise disc products that protects drives and data from shock and other hazards. It also provides diagnostic tools that enable users to identify and resolve common, nondisc-related problems, preventing costly and unnecessary drive returns. The three "D"s of this system are Drive Defense, Data Defense and Diagnostic Defense.

Drive Defense:

    

SeaShield - SeaShield is a cover over the PCB that prevents electrostatic shock damage to sensitive circuits and protects against physical damage from drops or stray screwdrivers. This protection can increase the drive's long-term reliability. Only Seagate drives have this extra protection over the PCB.

SeaShell - a revolutionary disc drive package, replacing the drive's Electro-Static Discharge (ESD) bag with a more protective, easier-to-use, recyclable package. Seashell is a thermo-formed, translucent, shock-ribbed, "clamshell" wrapped exclusively around Seagate drives, and offers complete ESD protection. It will reduce returns due to handling damage by up to 70 percent.

G-Force Protection - Internal design enhancements give our drives the highest shock tolerance in the industry. Barracuda ATA V resists 350Gs without damage, even when not in the SeaShell packaging.

Data Defense:

SAMS (Seagate's Advanced Multidrive System) - SAMS reduces the rotational vibration (RV) effects of multiple drives seeking inside a cabinet. An array or JBOD configured with Seagate drives maintains data throughput and data integrity during peak use.

ECC (Error Correction Code) - provides on-the-fly hardware correction for excellent performance and firmware correction for maximum data recovery so that data is read and recorded correctly.

Safe Sparing -ensures that the drive knows to return to the same sector it was sparing after a power outage, guaranteeing against data loss.

CBDS (Continuous Background Defect Scanning) - proactively identifies and eliminates defects.

On-the-Fly Triple Interleave Reed-Solomon Code - for thermal asperity (TA) recovery and resultant data integrity.

End-to-End Path Protection - ensures data integrity from host to disc.

Diagnostic Defense:

SeaTools - diagnostic utility software that helps customers determine whether system problems are drive-based or due to some other hardware or software problem. SeaTools is designed to reduce drive returns, decrease drive repair costs and protect data. It works with ATA and SCSI products, including all legacy Seagate drives.

Enhanced S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) - predicts and prevents problems transparently before they affect the end-user.

Web-Based Tools - enable users to identify and solve some common nondisc-related problems such as viruses, corrupted file systems and hardware conflicts to prevent unnecessary and inconvenient drive returns.

DLD (Drive Logging Diagnostics) - Captures unrecoverable failure data that is essential for interactive diagnostic work.

Down for the Count? 1... 2... :

I am sure you are wondering what the rest of the "Big Four" are up to.  Well, all of them have been very busy.  Each are poised to introduce new models with technological improvements.  With SATA on the horizon, these only make its introduction all the more mouth watering.  For all those familiar with the name but need some brushing up, here is some basic info, read more directly from the white papers:

Serial ATA is a "serial" architecture as opposed to today's "parallel" ATA internal disc drive bus. Serial ATA wraps many bits of data into a packet and then at a higher speed (30 times faster) than parallel, transfers the packet of data down the wire to or from the host. In parallel drives today, Cyclic Redundancy Checking (CRC) is performed on the data being transmitted back and forth-but is not performed on the commands. Serial ATA integrates CRC on both the command and data packet level for enhanced bus reliability. Cyclic redundancy code detects all single and double-bit errors and ensures detection of 99.998% of all possible errors. A Serial ATA drive can transfer data at 150 Mbytes/sec on the bus to the host system with extremely reliable accuracy and the Serial ATA interface will continue to allow scalability for a very long time.

 SATA Roadmap
   Generation 1  Generation 2  Generation 3
 Data Rate  150 Mbytes/sec  300 Mbytes/sec  600 Mbytes/sec
 Approximate Introduction  Fall 2002  Mid-2004  Mid-2007

 

 

 

IBM:

For the most part, they have been toning down SATA involvement.  They newest line of drive will have maximum capacity of 180GB, namely for their 180GXP Deskstar line.  It will be utilizing 60GB platters like the Barracuda ATA V.  New to the Deskstar line will be IBM's introduction to using a fluid dynamic bearing, something Seagate already uses to reduce noise emissions while operational.  It will, also, be packed with IBM's new "tag 'n seek" (formally Tagged Command Queuing), which smart queues commands to allow the hard drives heads to optimize their time.  A lot of hype has been put into this technology by the IBM PR department.  However, this is far from new technology.  It has been used at least two previous IBM hard drive lines.  Though built with 8MBs of cache to attract the extra digital video and graphical editors, it will effectively match and address Western Digital's SE edition of hard drives.

Here is a response from Seagate regarding Tagged Command Queuing:

Tagged command queuing has been in the ATA standard since ATA 4 (several years ago). There are reasons that it was never broadly adopted by the industry.

1) Cumbersome polling - ATA queuing as defined in the ATA 4 standard is cumbersome at best. It attempts to add queuing functionality to a bus that was never designed to support such a feature. In order to support such functionality, the host must poll the ATA drive constantly to figure out when the drive is ready for the next command. This is a lot of interface command overhead and can be even worse if there is a master/slave condition. By contrast, SCSI does not have this problem because it has much better bus arbitration or bus negotiation. Also by contrast, Serial ATA uses Frame Information Structure or FIS that wraps data into packets and includes status communication bits along with the packets. The status bits eliminate the host from having to poll the drive constantly. The drive sends its status along with the last packet of data so that the host immediately knows the drive is ready for the next in line command.

2) Re-ordering - In ATA, the host controller, not the device determines when to transfer data. The interval time between the device setting, the service bit and the service commands being issued eventually causes the original re-order to be "out of order again". Only the drive knows exactly when the head is in position over the target LBAs and exactly when is best time to begin data transfers. By contrast, in Serial ATA, the drive initiates the first party DMA operation when it feels the timing is optimal for the transfers -- the drive has control.

3) Wasted time - In ATA, the DMA engine in the last to know what data for what command is being transferred, so it must wait until the service bit is set -- after the actual command is sent -- before it can "setup" for the data transfer cycle. This means wasted nanoseconds to milliseconds -- if you add them all up they create a very clumsy and fat command overhead process. A big reason why ATA tagged command queuing never took off.

4) Hardware and driver support - Tagged command queuing requires special host side hardware and drivers that support PATA queuing. When hard drive companies considered whether to implement tagged command queuing, they've had trouble finding such pieces. Those that exist have had trouble interoperating.

Maxtor:

The introduction of ATA/133 was a technological advancement that came a little too late, definitely at the wrong time by all analysts.  All hard drive manufacturers, minus Maxtor, decided to wait for SATA technology to become available.  Everyone felt that the capital needed to implement ATA/133 was not cost-effective, as they would have to do a bigger technology upgrade/overhaul a few months later with SATA.  Maxtor seemed to feel that it was worth it, probably since no one else opted to use the technology.  From all signs, ATA/133 didn't make that much of a dint.  Most system designers like Dell and Compaq, as well as consumers, all decided wait out for the SATA drives because of the same reason most manufacturers avoided it.

Unlike IBM and Seagate, Maxtor will be introducing four different model lines: DiamondMax Plus 9, Diamond 16, MaXLine II, and MaXLine Plus II.  Both new DiamondMax and MaXLine model lines will be using 80GB platters.  The Plus lines will be using 7,200 RPM spindle speed.  Select models of the DiamondMax Plus 9 and all models of the MaXLine Plus II will have 8MB caches, for those interested in high-end media applications.  Stunningly, Maxtor will offer an amazingly high 320GB capacity hard drive for the MaXLine II line.  The DiamondMax line and MaXLine Plus II will have highs of 160GB and 250GB, respectively.

Unlike, Western Digital and IBM, Maxtor has decided to follow the suit of Seagate and openly suggest the launching date of their SATA drives.  However, they will still be far behind Seagate, introducing their Serial ATA drives early in 2003.  Seagate, in the meantime, will be introducing its Barracuda SATA V model very soon.

Western Digital:

They have just introduced the largest capacity single hard drive, holding the 200GB marker.  Though, this title maybe short lived with Maxtor's 320GB hard drive, and whatever the other unannounced models that the other companies are cooking up.  This drives uses three platters, which only makes me deduce that it uses platters of a higher density than 60GB.  Meanwhile, they are also introducing 120GB and a 180GB models.  The 180GB model will use three 60GB platters, and the 120GB will come in two sub-models, which use three 40GB and new models using two 60GB platters.

Western Digital and IBM are the only two big companies to hold out their announcement of SATA involvement, formally.  According to my contacts, both companies plan on embarking on the SATA roadmap, but withheld any details as to their company's respective implementation timeline.

Test Bed Specifications:

 Intel Pentium 4 Test Bed
 Processor  Intel Pentium 4 Northwood 2.4B GHz w/533 FSB
 Motherboard  Asus P4PE
 Memory  Corsair XMS3200 512MB@2.0
 Video Card  ATI All In Wonder 8500
 Hard Drive  IBM 120GXP ATA/100 80GB
 Drivers  IAA 2.2.2, ATI Catalyst 2.1
 OS  Windows XP Pro

PCMark2002 Pro:

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Conclusion:

With Serial ATA technology on the horizon, the Barracuda V line is sure to prove an excellent platform for Seagate's entrance into SATA technology.  Though the performance benchmarks don't all show that Barracuda V is the best, I should note that the margins were small.  Meanwhile, the temperature for the Barracuda ATA V showed the 60GB platter benefit.  I, personally, didn't expect any difference from the original stock of ATA/100 drives other than the temperature.

From what I have mentioned, the other companies are quickly responding to the industry 60GB technology.  Each have their distinctive plans on how to implement it.  Hopefully, this R&D industry improvement will only help further the SATA initiative.  Understandably, many people have voiced their concerns over overhauling their systems to the SATA standard.  Some are curious as to how far they have to upgrade their systems.  From what I have heard and seen, adapters will available for old ATA/100 interfaces to accept SATA drives, such as for IDE ATA/100 connectors on older and current motherboards.  There will even be PCI controller cards to take advantage of SATA/150 bandwidth on older and current motherboards that relieve you of having to upgrade that component completely.  There will even be a vice versa solution for a while.  Initially, IDE SATA/150 motherboards will most likely include adapters to use older ATA/100 drives.  Solutions like this will be phased out and hard to find, once SATA goes into full industry effect.  Though, this entire process will most likely take a few years, if not more.  Read more in our upcoming SATA article.

Something of concern is the new warranty policy.  Seagate, Maxtor, and Western Digital have all announced their move to a one year warranty policy that has gone into effect on October 1, 2002.  This doesn't effect old drives, as they hold the older industry standard 3 year policy.  However, the new drive from those three companies will be obviously limited to 1 year.  IBM seems to be staying with the 3 year policy.  I can only assume that they have decided to stick with the policy since they plan to drop their hard drive division completely to Hitachi in the near feature.  I may be speaking too soon as IBM may in fact switch to the 1 year policy.  I can only assume such.  The main reason behind the entire industry policy shift is due to the operations costs.  In the recent past years, hard drive prices have fell many fold.  Meanwhile, the cost of maintaining the warranty operation has remained the same.  This has been taxing on the hard drive makers, especially since many returns are invalid.  Seagate has openly admitted that upwards of 40% of returned drives had nothing wrong with them before they educated users with SeaTools and took effective action.  So to compensate for the price drop, companies have had to cut the warranty policy.  The only other option would be to raise prices, and that surely would not be met with open arms.

The upcoming SATA industry entrance leaves me to withhold any immediate judgment on the Barracuda ATA V.  What I will say is that it is a fully featured drive line that comes with many protective features that other makers have yet to include or improve on.  Seagate has no doubt continued its tradition of well rounded drives.  It is priced at about 185 USD retail, but you probably can find it for about 160 USD on Pricewatch.

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Copyright © 2002 Øyvind Haugland
Sist endret:  13 januar 2019
 

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