Vendors Tilt Over 1-Tbyte Drives

Hitachi ships first 1-Tbyte hard drive, as Seagate prepares its attack

April 26, 2007

4 Min Read
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Hitachi cranked up its efforts in the battle of the hard-drive vendors today, shipping the industry's first 1-Tbyte product, though rival Seagate is circling with an offering of its own. (See Hitachi Ships Hard Drive and Dawn of the Tbyte Hard Drive.)

Although Hitachi's first 1-Tbyte enterprise offering is still some weeks away, the 3.5-inch Deskstar 7K1000, which is aimed at consumers, is already shipping to retailers.

The drive, which runs at 7,200 RPM, comes with a 3-Gbit/s SATA interface and is priced at $400. Hitachi has already signed deals with Best Buy and CDW to sell the product, which is targeted at users looking to upgrade their PCs. (See 1-Tbyte Bragging Rights and Short Ride to 1-Tbyte Drives.)

Earlier this week, Hitachi also fleshed out its plans for an enterprise version of the 1-Tbyte drive, the A7K1000, which will ship sometime this quarter. (See Hitachi Releases Hard Drives.) Like the consumer drive, the 3.5-inch A7K1000 runs at 7,200 RPM and comes with a 3-Gbit/s SATA interface.

Hitachi has yet to reveal pricing for the enterprise drive, which will be aimed at OEMs and resellers. "We're selling to the seven largest storage system vendors," says Hitachi spokeswoman Karin Gilles, although she would not name names.At least one analyst feels that advent of 1-Tbyte hard drives spells good news for large enterprises. "The 1-Tbyte hard drives, I believe, will be used in massive server farms that you might find at the likes of Google," says John Monroe, research vice president at Gartner.

Google, which is said to use around 10,000 Linux-based servers in 13 data centers dotted around the world, currently uses serial and parallel ATA "consumer grade" hard-disk drives, ranging in speed from 5,400 to 7,200 RPM, with 80 - to 400-Gbyte capacities. (See Google, Tracking Google's IT Booty, Gettin Googly, and Tech Cash Slashed? Learn From Google.)

Seagate expects to ship its first 1-Tbyte enterprise drive sometime in the second half of this year and is already promising a performance boost over its rival. Like Hitachi's drives, Seagate says its offerings will be SATA-based and will run at 7,200 RPM, although the vendor is singing a different tune about areal density, or the amount of information that can be packed onto each inch of disk.

Unlike Hitachi, which offers a maximum density of 148-Gbits per square inch, Seagate is touting 164-Gbits per square inch on its 1-Tbyte drives. This means that the Seagate device needs only four platters and eight heads to handle data, unlike Hitachi, which uses five and 10, respectively.

Seagate claims that by reducing the number of moving parts, end-users can cut down on operating temperatures and power consumption, something which is a major issue for CIOs and IT managers. (See Users Talk Power Pains, Green With Envy, Summer Storage Survival, and Copan Pushes Power Savings.)Hitachi counters this by saying that a lower density is more reliable. "When you increase the areal density, it's that much harder to accurately read and write as you transfer data to the hard drive and back," says Gilles.

The Deskstar 7K1000 was just one of a slew of announcements coming out of Hitachi this week. The vendor also took the wraps off two smaller drives with SAS interfaces; the 2.5-inch 147-Gbyte Ultrastar C10K147, and the 3.5 inch 300-Gbyte Ultrastar 15K300.

There is still no news on whether Hitachi will add a SAS interface to its 1-Tbyte drives, despite the growing popularity of the technology, which is perceived as a cheaper alternative to Fibre Channel-based drives. (See SAS Wave Breaks Big, IBM Turns to LSI for SAS, and Emulex Locks Onto SAS.) "It's definitely an interesting product area, but we don't have anything to say at this point about that," says Hitachi spokeswoman Karin Gilles.

Seagate hinted that it is also considering a SAS interface for its soon-to-be-launched 1-Tbyte drive. "We're continuing to make Fibre Channel products, but we see that the majority of new systems/new infrastructure builds will be SAS," wrote spokesman David Szabados in an email to Byte and Switch.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor Byte and Switch

  • CDW Corp.

  • Gartner Inc.

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST)

  • Seagate Technology Inc.0

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