Hitachi started the terabyte drive ball rolling in August, but in the last month we’ve had drives from Western Digital and Seagate arrive. We’re very happy to see them all.
Seagate has released two different terabyte drives under the one Barracuda name; the 7200.11 and the ES.2. We’re testing the ES.2, which claims better reliability and performance than the 7200.11; specifically 1.2 million hours Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF) compared to 750,000 hours for the 7200.11, and a tenfold decrease in errors per sector.
The higher end ES.2 consumer offering also differs from the 7200.11 because it is available with either SAS or SATA interfaces. The internals are shared by both -- and are high end consumer grade -- but the SAS drive’s logic board is a descendent of Seagate’s industrial computing line. This means it’s the cheapest and highest capacity SAS drive available anywhere, and you’ll get dual interface ports for use in redundant SAS controllers.
It’s expected that these drives will integrate nicely into data centres that serve up video and other applications where Pantera-listening system administrators demand a vulgar display of storage. Their consumer internals mean that you won’t get lightning access times, and the 7200 RPM speeds won’t deliver speeds anywhere near high capacity 1500 RPM SAS drives. Seagate’s claimed reliability (backed up by its recent win in our Reliability and Service Awards) should mean that they will fit the bill for high capacity tasks and perform reasonably well.
We used HD Tach’s 32MB test to benchmark the drive. Amazingly, it managed to beat Western Digital’s Raptor - the King of Desktop Performance – in every aspect except seek times. It’s quite quiet too; although we could hear it seeking, alongside a dull rotational whirr when testing outside of a case.
Average Read: 86.6 MB/s
Seek time: 12.7 ms
Interestingly, when we benchmarked a single drive using an Adaptec SAS card instead of our onboard SATA controller, the burst rate shot up to 518MB/s while all other stats remained largely constant. When we lashed two ES.2s together in a RAID 0 setup, sustained performance predictably increased to 174.1MB/s.
Two drives in RAID 0:
Average Read: 174.2 ms
Seek time: 12.7 MB/s
We have to commend Seagate for its SAS initiative, but also warn users that you won’t be able to use SAS drives on SATA controllers. This is no big deal for workstations with onboard SAS, however it will become a problem if you want to pull the drive at a later date and use it in a less powerful system without a SAS controller.
Its performance is undeniably impressive, and Seagate’s track record in reliability (as well as its warranty and claimed failure rates) make this a tempting buy. That said, we will be reviewing more terabyte drives from other manufacturers next week, so you may want to read our evaluation of the competition before deciding to purchase one.