In the storage world, nothing matches a solid-state drive for speed, and nothing matches a mechanical hard drive for capacity and price per gigabyte. Recognizing these two great tastes would go great together, many vendors have attempted to find the perfect hybrid storage solution, with variable—and often clunky—results. Seagate’s Momentus XT, which we first reviewed in September 2010, offered a 500GB 2.5-inch drive with 4GB of NAND flash with an adaptive algorithm to ensure that the most frequently used files are mirrored in the NAND. This means your boot drive feels faster than a mechanical drive, if only for the stuff you use the most. We liked the first Momentus, but complained that it could use more NAND. Seagate aims to remedy that complaint with this new Momentus.
OCZ just keeps pushing the envelope on its PCI Express SSDs. The first RevoDrive contained two 60GB SF-1200-powered SSDs in RAID 0, with a Silicon Image PCI-to-SATA controller. The RevoDrive X2 kept the same architecture, but added a second PCB with two additional controllers and two more 60GB sets of NAND. OCZ’s RevoDrive3 X2 updates the platform to second-generation SandForce, but the new SSD controller isn’t the only change.
Since time began, man has looked at four- and five-platter 3TB hard drives and dared to say, “That’s cool, but when will we get hard drives with one terabyte per platter?” Man is impossible to please. Nevertheless, drive makers have cracked the 1TB-per-platter limit, and this year we’ll see 4- and 5TB drives, and even one-platter 1TB drives. The first 1TB/platter drive to cross our bench, though, is Seagate’s new 3TB Barracuda.
Increased areal density allows for faster read and write speeds, which should mean a faster drive. Does it?
Lost in the buzz surrounding the latest DirectX 11 GPUs and hexacore CPUs is the ability to actually store and retrieve your stuff. Your applications, games, photographs, digital music and everything else lives on your hard drive. But that boring old rotating magnetic disk just doesn’t seem exciting or high tech – even though the technology in a hard drive is actually pretty incredible.
We’ll first touch briefly on technology and jargon, then look at several different scenarios, and try to focus on what storage options might be appropriate and cost effective. But first, let’s talk tech. We’ll first briefly discuss hard drives, then take a quick look at SSDs.
The basic idea behind the PopDrive is a good one: a sleek, portable external enclosure that holds two 2.5-inch drives in RAID 1, to protect against the risk of data loss due to drive failure. Add in support for user notification emails, hotswap drive bays, and a relatively speedy 3Gb/s eSATA port, and it sounds like you’ve got yourself a winner. And you might, eventually.
Seagate’s Barracuda line has long been a contender in the 7,200rpm drive space and—7200.11 firmware snafu notwithstanding—has generally vied with WD’s Caviar Black line for the 7,200rpm crown. The Barracuda XT 3TB is a five-platter 7,200rpm drive with 6Gb/s SATA and 64MB of cache, just like the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000. So what’s the difference?
Alas, poor Hitachi; we knew him well, Horatio. Hitachi’s Global Storage division might have been gobbled up by Western Digital, but it’s still putting out product, at least for now. Hitachi’s latest addition to the Deskstar line is a five-platter, 3TB, 7,200rpm drive with 64MB of cache and a 6Gb/s SATA interface. Yeah, we can deal with that.
Ah, hard drives, how far you've come. It's incredible to think that only 30 years ago, the top end hard drive you could get stored 5MB of data and ran with a separate controller entirely! But, that's technology for ya'. Technology doesn't grow gradually, it grows exponentially, and watching that growth is one of our favorite things to do. In the spirit of this, we present to you the evolution of desktop storage, in image form. Enjoy!
We’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. We’ve watched “rugged” hard drive enclosures shatter on the carpet after a 2-foot drop. All our documents lost in time, like… well, like something. What we’re saying is that we’re skeptical of any marketing materials that make a product out to be fireproof, waterproof, or anything-proof. So when we got the IoSafe SoloPro, which makes such claims right on the product packaging, we did the only logical thing. We set the dang thing on fire and then dunked it in a bucket of bay water.
How can you improve on OCZ Technology’s original RevoDrive (reviewed November 2010), which binds two SandForce SF-1200 SSDs to a PCI-E card? You add another two SSDs for a quad-drive SSD. That’s what OCZ did for the RevoDrive X2.
The original RevoDrive topped out at 500MB/s in very specific tests, and hovered around half that speed for most day-to-day usage, which still put it at the very top end of current-gen solid-state devices. OCZ claims the RevoDrive X2 can hit speeds up to 750MMB/s—that’s marketing megabytes per second. Oh yeah, we’re testing that.