Last month we reviewed Western Digital’s MyBook World Edition, a small, white, single-drive, one-terabyte NAS box aimed solidly at Joe User. This month, we have the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440, the MyBook’s polar opposite in many ways. It’s big, it’s black, it’s user-serviceable, comes with four Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB drives, and is marketed toward small businesses without a dedicated IT staff.
The BlackArmor 440 is a brick, the front of which has a two-line green LCD status screen, a front door that opens to reveal the four hot-swappable screwless drive bays, one of the box’s four USB 2.0 host ports, and a power button. The back holds the 12cm exhaust fan, the power jack (for the external power brick), two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and the other three USB 2.0 ports.
The LCD display offers system status information and a few buttons to navigate with, but the real power comes from the BlackArmor’s web interface, which is easily accessible from the BlackArmor Discovery software included with the NAS. The Discovery software also provides easy mapping of shared folders—the defaults are Public and Downloads.
It was a big month for storage. Not only did Western Digital bring to the market the first 2TB consumer hard drive, but Seagate came to the game with another milestone: a two-platter 1TB drive. Both offerings contain 500GB platters, the highest platter density yet achieved.
The Barracuda 7200.12 1TB is the first drive we’ve tested from the 12th generation of Seagate’s 7,200rpm Barracuda line, and it’s Seagate’s best chance for a fresh start following the firmware issues that plagued its 7200.11 line.
The 1TB 7200.12 has much in common with drives from the previous generation of Barracudas: It features 32MB of L2 cache, 7,200rpm rotational speeds, and SATA 3Gb/s data transfer with Native Command Queuing. The 7200.12, though, needs just two platters to achieve 1TB, whereas the 7200.11 used four.
Seagate, who originally planned to serve up enterprise SSD products in 2008 and later changed its target date to sometime in 2009, has suffered a setback in SSD development that may end up delaying the release until at least 2010, according to an investment bank briefing note.
"Notably in the last two weeks, we heard that Seagate (the company we think is closest in terms of market penetration) had another setback in its efforts to design an enterprise storage drive to compete with ZeusIOPS," wrote Kevin D. Vassily, an analyst at investment bank Pacific Crest Securities.
It remains unclear exactly what kind of setback Seagate is running into, but Vassily did bring up LSI in his note, the company Seagate picked to design and supply controller silicon for its SSDs. If Seagate is forced to find a new supplier, it might be mid-2011 or later before Seagate is able to ship SSDs in any volume, Vassily says.
Earlier today Seagate announced several additions to its line of BlackArmor external hard drives.
The drives, which are aimed at small businesses, include the BlackArmor NAS 220 storage server, BlackArmor WS 110 external drive and the BlackArmor PS 110 portable drive. The NAS 220 will be able to hold up to 4TB of storage, and sports data protection for up to 20 PCs on a network. The WS 110, which is meant to be a desktop accessory, will come with USB 2.0 and eSATA connectors, and packs with up to 2TB worth of space. And, lastly, the PS 110 comes with up to 500GB of storage, and will feature with a standard USB 2.0 connector.
The NAS 220 will be available starting at $699.99 for the 4TB model starting in July, whereas the WS 110 and PS 110 are available now for $309.99 (2TB) and $159.99 (500GB), respectively.
This week, Seagate announced its latest backup devices, the Replica backup appliance family. Replica is available in two versions: a single-computer 250GB model ("Single PC") and a 500GB version ("Multi-PC") that also includes a dock.
Replica's 'plug it in and forget it design' is intended to make it a close hardware equivalent to online backup services in terms of ease of use, but it's not designed to be as flexible - or as fast - as a traditional USB hard disk. Seagate refers to Replica as a "backup applicance" for good reason: the included software makes a backup copy of your entire system, and you get a bootable recovery disc that helps you restore your system in case it dies.
While you have the option of restoring the entire PC, or just dragging individual files from Replica back to your PC in case you deleted your latest draft of the Great American Screenplay, Replica won't do drag and drop copying from your PC to Replica. Seagate's reasoning: if you want an external hard disk, get yourself a Seagate FreeAgent or FreeAgent Go, or a Maxtor OneTouch or OneTouch mini. By contrast, Replica is designed for users who don't want to think about anything after installing the software and plugging the drive into a free USB port.
So, how much will Replica cost? To find out, and for your chance to sound off, join us after the jump.
Seagate this week unveiled a new line of hard drives that it says are "the ideal solution for the demands of the growing video surveillance market." The SV35.5 series, as it's been dubbed, include a number of features that make it suitable for video surveillance environments, including a "performance-tuned" 140MB/s sustained data rate, ATA-7 streaming commands, enhanced caching capabilities, built-in error recovery for 24/7 streaming, thermal monitoring and reporting, low noise operation, and more.
"The hardware requirements for the surveillance market are especially critical and dictate the use of HDDs that are made specifically for the needs of video system manufacturers and integrators," said Carla Kennedy, senior vice president of Seagate’s Enterprise Product Line Management group. "With its optimized performance and capacity that can store over one full month of high-resolution video, the Seagate SV35.5 Series™ hard drive is a prime example of Seagate delivering a feature-rich solution that customers have requested."
The SV35.5 series takes advantage of perpendicular recording and comes in capacities of up to 1TB. Seagate says its new drives consume anywhere between 5W and 7W while idle, depending on the specific hard drive.
No word yet on price, although Seagate says the SV35.5 is currently shipping to distributors worldwide.
Today, hard drive manufacturer Seagate and chip manufacturer AMD unveil the first tech demo of Serial ATA Revision 3.0, which boasts transfer rates of up to six gigabits per second, twice the speed of the current SATA spec. The specification, which was announced by the Serial ATA International Organization last August, will appear in hardware starting later this year.
SATA 6Gb/s comes several years before Seagate estimates it will be needed for standard hard drives, but, as we reported last year, several current-gen SSDs are already bumping against the 3Gb/s limit of the current spec.
Seagate this week announced a new line of hard drives aimed at enterprise environments. Dubbed "Constellation," Seagate's new drives come in both 2.5- and 3.5-inch form factors and boast both high capacities and power efficiency.
The 2.5-inch Constellation model comes in 160GB and 500GB capacities offering both 3Gb/s SATA and SAS 2.0 interface (6Gb/s). Seagate says that by utilizing the new SAS protocol, the Constellation hard drives make possible larger external storage topologies, twice the data throughput, and a higher signal strength over longer distances. Dell has already jumped on board as one of the first OEMs planning to offer the Constellation series.
Of more interest to desktop users, the 3.5-inch Constellation ES model comes in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities, the latter of which currently ranks as the highest capacity hard drive available (Western Digital also recently released a 2TB drive in Australia).
The 2.5-inch Constellation will begin shipping this quarter, with the 3.5-inch Constellation expected to ship in Q3.
We were pumped when we heard that Seagate had broken through the terabyte barrier with its 1.5TB Barracuda drive—it’s not only the biggest consumer drive available, but also represents the largest jump in capacity we’ve seen. We typically expect capacity increases to be accompanied by performance decreases, but this drive is quick on its feet despite its gargantuan size.
Thanks to perpendicular recording, the Barracuda manages to pack 1.5TB of capacity onto four 375GB platters on a 7,200rpm spindle with a 32MB cache, which allows it to keep pace with four-platter 1TB drives like the terabyte Barracuda and the WD Caviar Black.
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.