I’ve often heard the rumor that a full hard drive is significantly slower than a mostly empty one. Despite my black belt Google-fu I am unable to find any stories, articles, or write-ups to elaborate on this. How much slower? At which point is a hard drive too full—60 percent? 90? When should I start looking for a bigger drive?
Read our answer to David's question after the jump.
GammaTech is poised to release the Durabook D14 E-series ultra rugged laptops. Overall the new model is fairly similar to the older D14RM, but this one will come equipped with a full 1TB of hard drive space. The manufacturer claims the system will be resistant to drops, spills, and dust accumulation thanks to the magnesium case and anti-shock materials. That’s a lot of storage that you can toss around with reckless abandon.
Other specs include a 14.1 inch widescreen display, Core 2 Duo CPU, and up to 8GB of RAM. The terabyte of storage comes in the form of two 7200RPM 500GB hard drives. Customers will be able to choose either RAID-0 or RAID-1 configurations; users may also forego RAID all together and use the disks independently.
GammaTech has not announced pricing yet, but expect it to be high. The D14RM ran about $1500 without the huge hard drive capacity. Can you see yourself ever buying one of these rugged laptops for business or personal use?
When Seagate told us it would be shipping the first 6Gb/s SATA hard drive, we were a little surprised. And when we found out it wasn’t going to be a solid state drive, but a 7,200rpm Barracuda drive, our skepticism increased. Sure, we’d been waiting a long time for Seagate’s 2TB 7,200rpm drive, and it’s nice to see the SATA 6Gb/s spec ship on a real-world product, but putting a 6Gb/s controller on a mechanical hard drive is like putting a Formula 1 airfoil on a golf cart. The vehicle just ain’t ever going to go fast enough to warrant the accessory.
In order to test the Barracuda XT on a level playing field, we built a new rig: a 2.66GHz Core i5-750 and 4GB of DDR3 RAM on an Asus P7P55D-Premium motherboard, which has an onboard Marvell SATA 6Gb/s controller as well as an Intel 3Gb/s SATA controller. The rig runs Windows XP SP3 and 64-bit Vista Home Premium from a 300GB WD Raptor. We tested both the Barracuda and its closest competitor, the 2TB WD Caviar Black, on both the Marvell and Intel controllers.
USB 2.0 may have reigned supreme for most of 2009, but now it's USB 3.0's time to shine in the limelight. Wasting no time in the new year, Seagate used CES to unveil its BlackArmor PS110 USB 3.0 portable external hard drive "performance kit" designed for laptops.
"As people continue to amass vast libraries of high-definition photos, movies, and music, the storage needs of US households are forecast to grow more than ten times between 2009 and 2013, and the average digital media storage requirements will exceed a terabyte by 2013," said Kurt Schreff, vice president and principle analyst of Parks Associates.
Seagate's latest BlackArmor extrnal HDD kit packs a 500GB 7200RPM 2.5-inch portable hard drive, power cable, and PC Express card. And because it's built around the new SuperSpeed USB 3.0 spec, Seagate says you can expect sustained transfer rates in the neighborhood of 100MB/s, which is three times faster than current USB 2.0 devices, the company claims. That boils down to transferring a 25GB HD movie in about 4 minutes, compared to 14 minutes using a USB 2.0 drive.
Seagate says the new drive is available now with an MSRP set at $180.
The non-profit science and nature nuts managed to cram "120 years of amazing discoveries, fascinating maps, and the world's best photography" into a portable 160GB hard drive. The Complete National Geographic collection includes every issue of the popular magazine digitally reproduced in high resolution.
At $200, it's also the most you're ever likely to spend on a 160GB external drive, and if that's too steep, you can kick it old school (and risk being labeled an old fart) with the 6-DVD version for $60.
As the capacities and prices of hard drives drop it becomes so very tempting to replace existing hard drives with something bigger, and perhaps faster. But what to do with the old drives? External drive cases, let’s face it, are passé--and in some instances will cost you more than the drive they’ll house is worth. Docks are a nice idea, and definitely offer more flexibility. But what if you’ve a hankering to go portable? Unitek’s got you covered: a USB 3.0 to SATA adapter that will get your ‘old’ drive running and on your desktop in no time.
The Unitek adapter, available over at Brando for $48, has a USB 3.0 compliant connector for the PC side, and a SATA Gen2i (3 Gbps) and Gen1i (1.5 Gbps) compliant connector for a 3.5-inch drive at the other. Th econnector will support ATA/ATAPI devices, and drives up to 2 TB. USB 3.0 will allow a theoretical data transfer rate of 5.0 Gbps, but the actual rate will be governed by SATA’s slightly lower data throughput.
The only drawback to the connector is USB 3.0, which isn’t yet mainstream. The initial round of USB 3.0 equipped motherboards are supposed to be hitting the streets about now. And for the rest of us languishing in USB 2.0 purgatory, we’ll be needing to invest in an add-in card.
We were expecting Seagate to lift the wraps on its 7mm thick thin hard drive next month during CES, but we guess the HDD maker just couldn't wait. Rather than wait a month, Seagate today announced the Momentus Thin drive, which the company claims is the "world's thinnest 2.5-inch hard drive" designed for ultraportables and entry-level laptops.
"The Momentus Thin drive promises to help computer makers differentiate on mobile-computing form factor and better compete in the fast-growing markets for thin laptop PCs and netbooks," said Dave Mosley, executive vice president of Sales, Marketing, and Product Line Management at Seagate. "Seagate is committed to helping its OEM and system integrator partners meet market demand for thinner laptop PCs and plans to expand storage capabilities for thin laptops as demand for these slimmer models continues to grow."
At just 7mm in height, the thin drive is 25 percent slimmer than traditional 9.5mm, 2.5-inch laptop hard drives. Seagate's Momentus Thin is so far available in 160GB and 250GB capacities, both of which come with an 8MB cache buffer, SATA 3Gb/s interface, and a 5400 RPM spindle speed.
Seagate says it will begin shipping its new drives to OEM and integrator partners in January 2010.
Somebody's been eating their Wheaties lately, and that somebody is Seagate. How else do you explain the flurry of activity? The company recently released the world's first SATA 6Gb/s hard drive, and pretty soon, Seagate will finally make the jump into the SSD market. On top of it all, the company is planning to unveil a new 2.5-inch 640GB Momentus HDD during CES next month.
The new drive will sport dual-320GB platters with an areal density of 507Gb (that's gigabit) per square inch, which is a 29 percent increase over previous 500GB hard drives with 394Gb per square inch. It will also come with an 8MB cache buffer and spin at 5400 RPM.
But wait, that's not all. In addition to the 640GB drive, Seagate also plans to introduce the world's first 7mm 2.5-inch drive, also during CES. That's 25 percent thinner than the 9.5mm standard. So why so small? It's safe to say that netbooks are more than just a passing fad at this point, and ultra-thins are fast becoming the next must-have portable PC.
"The new slimline product allows our OEM customers to continue to reduce the thickness and weight of their notebook platforms," stated Robert Whitmore, Seagate's Chief Technology Office.
Seagate’s new line is called Pulsar. According to Seagate, Pulsar is intended for blade and general server applications--which means they will be targeted to the enterprise market segment.
The drives will be built with chips of Seagate’s own design, making use of single-level cell (SLC) technology (for reliability), fit into a 2.5-inch form factor, use a SATA 3Gb/s interface, and will be available in capacities up to 200GB.
Mechanical hard drives still hold the advantage when it comes to capacity and price-per-gigabyte, but there's no touching the speed of a quality solid state drive (SSD). OEMs know this, and while mobile PC users might not be willing to pay the premium placed on SSDs, they may be willing to step up to a 7200 RPM hard drive. In fact, Seagate reckons that by 2011, half of all mobile hard drives will spin at 7200 RPM in order to better compete with their pricier brethren.
By 2012, Seagate predicts most mobile PCs -- even netbooks -- will have transitioned to 7200 RPM hard drives. That's good news for power users more concerned with performance than they are with maximing battery life. The theoretical performance difference between a 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM hard drive sits at about 33 percent, but it can be even more, depending on cache, areal density, and other factors.
The move to faster mobile hard drives at lower price points might not bode so well for SSD adoption, however. SSDs will still trump HDDs in everything from boot times to how long it takes to load an application, but it won't be as pronounced as when compared to a 5400 RPM HDD.