Many a hardware-encrypted disk has crossed the path of the consumer market lately, but they’ve universally been a questionable investment. All the encryption systems have been proprietary, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone that’s looking to store all their valuable data on a system that can’t be read in a few years down the line.
Thankfully, the Trusted Computing Group has just announced that (almost) every drive maker has agreed on 128-bit encryption for all SSDs and HDDs. The major vendors, such as Fujitsu, Hitachi, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, Western Digital, IBM, Wave Systems, LSI and Ulink Technology have all hopped on board.
With any luck we in the consumer market will be looking at simpler disk encryption sometime very soon.
Confirming an earlier rumor that Western Digital had been nearing the release of a 2TB internal hard drive, the HDD maker is now producing and shipping the record capacity HDD. However, the new drive is so far only available through Mwave Australia.
The 2TB drive carries Western Digital's GreenPower moniker, an eco-friendly designation WD claims represents a 4-5 watt savings over standard desktop drives. According to Western Digital's product page, the new drive sips up to 7.4W during read/write operations, 4W at idle, and 0.97W during sleep or standby. Other specs for the WD20EADS include a 7200RPM spindle speed and 32MB of cache.
The drive sells for AU$378, which converts to about $250USD. No word yet on U.S. availability or pricing.
We've been following closely ever since some Seagate hard drive owners started complaining late last week that their hard drives were failing "at an alarming rate." Following a flood of complaints on Seagate's support forum and plenty of media coverage, Seagate responded with a firmware update that was supposed to solve the issue and prevent future lockups from occurring for owners who hadn't yet been affected. Turns out the new firmware wasn't quite ready for prime time, and Seagate had to pull the update after learning it was bricking users' hard drives. Oops!
The latest straight from Seagate is that the company has now released yet another firmware update that both will prevent future problems and undo the damage inflicted by installing the original firmware 'fix.'
Last week an unusual number of Seagate 1TB Barracuda hard drive owners came forward complaining of lock ups and other related hard drive failures. The problem appeared to affect Barracuda 7200.11 drives made in Thailand (ST3100034AS), to which Seagate ultimately determined was the result of faulty firmware. But now users are complaining that the updated firmware Seagate posted has only made matters worse.
According to Tomshardware, "100 percent of users who attempted the update have bricked their drives with the new firmware" after updating to version SD1A. The update is now "temporarily taken offline as of Jan 19, 2008 8PM CST for validation," but users who managed to attempt the update before it was taken offline say they are getting read errors preventing them from accessing the data.
While the knowledgebase article makes no mention of manufacture date, one user who contacted Seagate customer support claims he was told only drives manufactured in December need to be updated, and his drive, which was built in October, failed because of this. Whether or not that's the case, we'll have to wait until hearing an official word from Seagate. In the meantime, if you're an affected owner, you'd do well to keep an eye on this thread.
According to news site The Register, Seagate's 1TB Barracuda hard drives are giving up the ghost "at an alarming rate." Users all across the globe have started complaining of lockups, non-detection in the BIOS, 0GB reported disc size, and other ailments, as reported by The Register and forum threads like the one at MSFN (Microsoft Software Forum Network).
If true, the problem appears to affect Barracuda 7200.11 drives made in Thailand (ST3100034AS) with firmware SD15. Users claim the reported failures are higher than what would be considered normal for hard drives, and adding insult to injury, some users are complaining of deleted and edited posts in an 18+ page support thread on Seagate's own forum.
And for you conspiracy theorists out there, while no Seagate Knowledge Base article yet exists on this specific topic, the company did recently reduce its bare drive warranty period from 5 to 3 years. For you non-conspiracy theorists, that means your drive is still under warranty.
Are any of you having problems with Seagate's 1TB drive? Hit the jump and post your experience, good or bad.
Update 1/16/09 - Seagate Responds
Seagate sent us an update regarding the failures and what steps potentially affected users can take to both resolve the issue and recover data. Full statement after the jump:
Research into the field of light powered computing has made some considerable strides as of late. Most notably, the science behind a laser powered hard drive has been more solid than ever before.
A laser powered hard drive would work on the principles of picosecond pulse lasers working where magnetic read/write heads would (something that was considered to be impossible until recently). Drives working on these fundamentals would provide a 1 TB/s transfer rate with their first generations, and others after that would reach speeds of 100TB/s and over.
Supposedly, this technology will be available within only five years, but like most laser technology, we’ll believe it when we see it.
Fujitsu will have to wait longer to get rid of its blighted hard disk drive business as talks between the Japanese company and Western Digital failed to bear any results. Kuniaki Nozoe, Fujitsu’s President, stated in the most unequivocal fashion possible that the deal is off. According to him, the talks fell off after Western Digital refused to accede to Fujitsu’s demands.
Fujitsu was keen on selling its Japanese plants and the ones abroad as a bundle. It even insisted upon most of the people employed in its hard drive business retaining their jobs. According to a Japanese newspaper, the asking price was $550 million.
Storage that uses flash memory is quite unlike the hard disk drives used to hold your computer’s data. The latter rely on speedy actuators to read and write information on spinning magnetic platters. SSDs use electrical charges to read and write the state of individual flash memory cells. An SSD’s flash memory is nonvolatile: Unlike your computer’s RAM, an SSD drive retains your data when you switch the power off. And since the handshake is electric, SSDs can access that data in a fraction of the time it takes a mechanical hard drive to do so.
Sounds ideal, right? Actually, the performance potential of SSDs needs to be weighed against some significant drawbacks. We’re going to outline the pros and cons of the technology and how it compares to traditional hard disk storage. We’re also going to put seven leading solid state drives to the test and let the benchmark numbers do the talking. At this stage in the storage race, an SSD is a big investment; we want to help you maximize your return.
Seagate is looking to push its full disk encryption (FDE) hard drives and is getting help from Dell in doing so. FDE drives come in both 5400RPM and 7200RPM flavors in capacities up to 320GB in Dell Latitude and Precision notebooks, and also Dell's Optiplex 960 desktops. According to Seagate, 500GB FDE drivers will be available by the end of 2008.
All information stored on Seagate's FDE drives are automatically encrypted and require a password before being accessed. Without the password, Seagate claims the drive essentially locks up. That could be bad news if an end-user manages to forget the password, but in this scenario, the drive can be unlocked remotely by IT staff using McAfee's ePO software. This only applies to the enterprise level, however, and when the drives become available in the consumer market, no such workaround exists, at least not yet.
From a performance standpoint, Seagate claims there are no noticeable performance impacts as FDE drives encrypt data as it is being written and decrypt when being read.
While the solid state drive market might seem like it’s sprawling, Seagate politely disagrees… for now. The world’s largest hard drive maker is planning to get into the SSD game in mid-2009, when there will be more possibilities to make money.
Seagate’s CEO Bill Watkins recently said in an interview, “The problem is you can't make money out of it [mobile flash memory]… I don't need to get into a market I can't make money out of. I can get into that market any time - all I have to do is show up with a product and price it. The problem is, I can't show up with a product that's any better or significantly better than what they're getting now so I have to match their price.” And, according to Watkins both Micron and Samsung (big names in the current SSD industry) are selling at a loss. “To do the product is not a big deal but to make money at it - it's important to us.”
Aside from mentioning Seagate’s will to do well financially in the flash market, some plans were finally outlined by Watkins as to just how they’ll break onto the scene. They plan to do so with a “combo” drive. The Seagate drive will feature both single layer chips and multilayer chips of flash memory. The combination of these two technologies will offset the pros and cons of each, providing both a reliable and reasonably priced drive.