Tag Archives: Samsung

Tom’s Hardware notebook drive roundup

Comprehensive evaluation of the top four 7200 rpm notebook drives

Tom’s Hardware compared performance notebook drives from Seagate, Hitachi, Samsung and WD with the depth and precision that only Tom’s can.  The value-add here is their understanding of the complex mix of factors that interact in real-life notebook use: performance, power, durability, security. 

Note that “performance” class 7200 rpm drives are on their way to becoming “mainstream” class, since more people are replacing desktops and expect desktop performance. 

Conclusions from the review:

Although we found ups and downs for each of the four products, all the drives passed the basic requirements for high-performance notebook hard drives, with great benchmark results. However, you should not just go any purchase any of the four drives, as their characteristics mean that some are more suitable for specific applications.
#4 Samsung’s Spinpoint MP2 is a good performer, delivering great throughput of up to 86 MB/s, and dominating the PCMark05 application benchmark, which is pretty relevant. Yet the drive is not a suitable overall recommendation, as its access time and I/O performance are a bit weak, and it’s as power-hungry as first-generation 7,200 RPM drives by Hitachi and Seagate. In terms of efficiency, Samsung is simply not yet where it could be.
#3 The Hitachi Travelstar 7K320 offers balanced performance and delivers good results across all benchmarks, but it does not win a single one of them except the Windows XP startup benchmark of PCMark05. If you want maximum performance or efficiency you might want to look for another drive, but if you find this model installed in your new notebook there is no reason to worry—it’s a good product.
#2 Western Digital’s new Scorpio Black has arrived with a bang. It has the fastest access time and great I/O performance, beating all the other 2.5″ hard drives. Though its throughput cannot quite match the transfer rates of the Seagate drive, WD manages to get excellent results in all of the benchmarks. And despite good but not exciting power consumption results, we found some surprises: WD implemented a sensible power management solution, which has the drive consume the least power at low-power idle and when playing DVD video off the HDD.#1 Seagate Momentus 7200.3. We were looking at the four hard drives from a mobile user’s perspective, so we paid close attention to performance per watt ratings. Not only does Seagate hit new transfer rate records, but it also beats the competition by providing the best combination of low power consumption and high performance. It might not win all the benchmarks, but overall it is on top. Its lead over WD was very small, though.  

Seagate sees the importance of 7200 rpm for notebook and Tom’s sees the results in Momentus.  Expect to see more of the good stuff in future versions of this winner.

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Review: the best 250GB 3.5″ drive

Seagate Barracuda rated best of nine 250GB drives reviewed

Hardware Secrets put nine 250GB hard drives through their paces.  All drives were purchased off the shelf from NewEgg.

Seagate’s Barracuda 7200 came out on top:

The average user will be good with a Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250310AS, which in our opinion is the drive that provides the best cost/benefit ratio for the average user from all nine 250 GB drives we tested.

250GB 3.5″ drives are bread-and-butter products, good for a wide range of mainstream PC and extrernal storage solutions.  Nice to see quality shine through even in this highly competitive arena.

Japan loves brands

Tech is huge in Japan, but is mostly fulfilled by multinationals

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There are 2 things I’ve learned from my colleagues here about the Japanese consumer and small business market for technology:

  1. The Japanese are brand-focused as much or more than any country, which means custom-made solutions have a lower share of the market than other countries.
  2. The early adopters are as geeky as they come!  Meaning that the Japanese enthusiasts really know their stuff, and demand incredibly rich detail and knowledge from their suppliers.

For this small but passionate and high-spending segment, Akihabara is still the center of the universe.  In this district in Tokyo, end users and businesses can buy any component, gadget or system known to man.  A few mega-stores are the main source for most of the volume here, but there are still many mom-and-pop techno shops.

For storage, this is the home turf for 3 of the world’s 6 disk drive makers.  So Hitachi, Fujitsu and Toshiba are the usual suspects for storage devices. Still, globalization has reached even the traditionally insular Japanese tech market.  Seagate, WD and Samsung drives are readily available as well.

Many innovations here are designed just for the Japanese market.  So if you want some fresh new-to-the-world ideas and want to see some really cool technology, find a way to get to Akihabara.

Small drives and flash will coexist for now

Flash has the capacity but not yet the price for mainstream adoption

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LaCie’s Little Disk teaches a good lesson to prognosticators of flash memory-based storage devices: it takes more than capacity to make a storage product sell. 

Flash and SSD have been media darlings lately, with wild-eyed predictions of the demise of disk drives by many in the industry.  The reality is that technology transitions like this take decades, not years, to play out. 

A dual technology strategy (disk and SSD) makes great business sense.  Obviously Samsung is actively pursuing both flash and spinning media today.  Seagate is on the same path

Flash is still not much more than a twinkle in the eye of the storage industry.  It’s exciting, not yet ready for wide-scale adoption.  This great comment from Engadget’s post sums it up nicely.

It’s not the specs that drive storage device adoption; it’s having the right price for those specs.

Disk drives win the Nobel Prize – so what?

Peter GruenbergAlbert Fert

Big ideas take time – a lot of it – to become mainstream products.  Don’t jump too soon on the Flash Drive bandwagon.

Albert Fert and Peter Gruenberg were awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering giant magnetoresistance (GMR) in 1988.  GMR turned out to be a key to continuing the relentless march of progress for disk drives, leading to today’s 1 TB drives priced in the $300 range. 

In the late 90’s disk drive technology was running out of steam.  GMR dramatically improved the ability of disk heads to read magnetic signals, which were getting weaker as disk bits became smaller.  Lead by IBM and then Seagate, disk drive makers integrated GMR technology in their drives to continue the industry’s ~40% annual capacity growth rate. 

So?

GMR became a viable volume product 10 years after Albert and Peter had their Eureka moments.

Flash forward to 2007

The industry is now rolling out drives based on Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology, an even bigger achievement than GMR was in the 90’s.  All of Seagate’s products are now built with PMR, but it took a decade of research and development,  as well as major changes to the drive manufacturing ecosystem, to arrive at high volume production of high quality perpendicular products. 

“But wait!” you say, “GMR won the Nobel Prize! How could PMR be a bigger deal than that?”  GMR removed a barrier to reading data on a disk, while PMR has overcome limits to how data is stored, written and read.  It’s rejiggering the whole enchilada.

By the way, GMR technology is still at the core of every Perpendicular drive we make.  No doubt it was an incredible breakthrough that continues to contribute to every device that relies on a disk drive.

A lesson for flash memory

Today, flash memory and Solid State Drives are all the rage. Samsung has announced a 64 GB solide state device.  Their ads show flash drives powering a driven business person’s laptop as he runs to his next meeting.  One problem: his flash drive added $1000 or more to the price of that laptop.  Not exactly marketable mainstream technology.

There’s no doubt that flash has a place in the market.  It’s not “if”, but “when” and “how”.  The lessons learned from GMR and PMR are that bold storage innovations take years to develop into marketable products.  Flash will steadily become more valuable, more reliable and more affordable. 

The good news is that you can leverage the first practical, profitable iteration of flash technology with hybrid drives, like Seagate’s Momentus 5400 FDE drive.  It gives you the benefits of flash (performance, less power) without sacrificing the benefits of drives (cost per gigabyte, reliability, capacity).

I believe flash is tomorrow’s disk storage, and disk is tomorrow’s tape storage. In the meantime, enjoy the ride with today’s amazing PMR disk drives, all the better with flash inside!