The Test

Our test bed specs have been laid out below. Since our test bed has remained untouched from our look at Seagate's 400GB Barracuda article, we will include our results of the drives that we looked at then.

Our test bed:

AMD Athlon 64 3500+ (2.2Ghz)
Giga-byte GA-K8NXP-SLI
Western Digital WD1600JS
NVIDIA 6600GT SLI Edition (single 128MB card)
1GB (512MBx2) Corsair XMS4400

Our motherboard is an nForce4 based board that features support for the SATA II standard, up to 3Gbps/sec SATA transfer rates, and NCQ and TCQ.

We used the following nForce platform drivers in conjunction with our testbed:

nForce4 Chipset Driver 6.66
Nvidia graphics driver 71.89
Windows XP SP2 w/out further updates

AnandTech Storage Tests
Business Winstone IPEAK a playback test of all of the IO operations that occur within Business Winstone 2004
Content Creation IPEAK a playback test of all of the IO operations that occur within Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004
SYSMark 2004 the official SYSMark 2004 test suite
Business Winstone 2004 the official Business Winstone 2004 test suite
Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004 the official Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004 test suite
Half-Life 2 Level Load Test Half-Life 2 level load time test
Doom 3 Level Load Test Doom 3 level load time test
Command & Conquer: Generals Level Load Test Command & Conquer: Generals level load time test
Real World File System Task Tests timed tests of basic file system tasks including zipping/unzipping and copying files
HDTach Synthetic test for transfer rate of hard disk during a full disk read
Service Time and Transfer Rate Tests Synthetic tests for average service time and transfer rate of hard disk during a full disk read
Business Winstone 2004 Multitasking Test Synthetic tests for overall system multitasking performance
Real World Multitasking Test timed tests of basic multitasking processes, timing a file zip operation while importing Outlook data

More details about each individual test will appear in the section of the review dedicated to that particular test.

The 7200.9 Series

Capacity Platter Density # of Platters/ Heads Spindle speed (RPM) Average Seek Time Average Latency Interface Buffer Sizes
40GB 80GB 1 / 1 7200 8.9ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 2MB
80GB 160 GB 1 / 1 7200 8.9 ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 2, 8MB
120GB 120GB 1 / 2 7200 8.5ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 2, 8MB
160GB 160GB 1 / 2 7200 8.5ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 2, 8MB
200GB 100GB 2 / 4 7200 8.5ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 8MB
250GB 125GB 2 / 4 7200 8.5ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 8MB
300GB 100GB 3 / 6 7200 8.5ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 16MB
400GB 133GB 3 / 6 7200 8.5ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 16MB
500GB 125GB 4 / 8 7200 8.5ms 4.16ms PATA / SATA 16MB

The 500GB 7200.9

Click for high resolution version.

The Circuitry

Click for high resolution version.


Index Pure Hard Disk Performance - IPEAK
POST A COMMENT

46 Comments

View All Comments

  • MCSim - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    Seems to be a very performer in multitasking situations. Reply
  • ElFenix - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    seagate has had 133 GB platters for a while now. could just be the same drive stuck into a new box. the 160GB platter model is the only one that seems worth reviewing, the higher areal density should translate into better performance. Reply
  • johnsonx - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    hey Seagate, why not put 4 160Gb platters into one drive? 4x160 = 720Gb, a new record capacity. If you can put 4 125's in one drive, 4 160's should be doable. Reply
  • Concillian - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    quote:

    hey Seagate, why not put 4 160Gb platters into one drive? 4x160 = 720Gb, a new record capacity. If you can put 4 125's in one drive, 4 160's should be doable.


    First, 4x160 = 640 not 720.

    Second, I bet nobody ever thought of that, you're a genious.

    My guess is that there are issues with 'wobble' causing higher densities to be more challengineg in a stack of 4 than a single platter. Hitachi's 500 GB drive is 5 platters, while their smaller drives use 125GB platters. Seagate is already packing the most in the least, so to speak.
    Reply
  • Anton74 - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    When a gigabyte of RAM can be had for less than $90, why is it that a 16MB buffer (1/64th of 1GB) is considered generous for a hard drive? Especially for higher priced large high-end drives, why not use a substantially larger buffer, like 64 or 128MB? Wouldn't the modest price increase ($10? $30?) be well worth the additional performance?

    Also, with the very slow progression of hard drive performance, why is everyone stuck at 7,200 RPM (Raptors and SCSI etc. excepted of course)? Perhaps moving up to 10,000 RPM would be too expensive for now, but how about 8,000 or 8,400 RPM as the next step up? Every bit helps.

    Is it technically feasible to allow simultaneous use of all drive heads, as opposed to 1 at a time?

    I would think things like these would set a drive apart quite noticably in the current field of mediocricy.

    On another note, what is wrong with (current implementations of) NCQ? It is easy to understand how it would not really help for relatively light (typical desktop) loads, but how can an efficient re-ordering of IO requests hurt performance like it does some of the time? Currently, it seems as if enabling NCQ simply alters the "performance profile" of a drive, gaining some of the time, and losing some of the time. Could it be that the nForce4 chipset is to blame here? Just a hunch.

    How about enabling write caching? I'd be very interesting to see benchmarks showing what that can do (and yes, I realize the risk of data loss - it's called "UPS" :).

    Anton
    Reply
  • Concillian - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    quote:

    When a gigabyte of RAM can be had for less than $90, why is it that a 16MB buffer (1/64th of 1GB) is considered generous for a hard drive?


    Because more wouldn't necessarily help. Where we see a delay with a hard drive is when we're loading a large amount of sequential data (like loading a level in a game or an application). These will not be in the cache anyway, nor would it be practical to have enough RAM to cache them, because it's not really predictable. Cache in a hard drive has never been proven to increase performance as far as I know. It's mostly a 'checklist' item that MFRs have to have on there because some consumers think it matters.

    quote:

    Also, with the very slow progression of hard drive performance, why is everyone stuck at 7,200 RPM (Raptors and SCSI etc. excepted of course)? Perhaps moving up to 10,000 RPM would be too expensive for now, but how about 8,000 or 8,400 RPM as the next step up? Every bit helps.


    I think this is mostly because the market for such drives is quite small. The vast majority of drives are going into Dell/HP/Compaq computers to people who only care how many megabytes they have, and don't care about hard drive speed. Raptor is in a pretty unique market segment, and while they may be popular with the type of people who read AT, I'd be willing to bet it's one of the smallest volume drives WD makes.

    There's no technical reason MFRs couldn't make 15k RPM ATA drives like they do with SCSI drives now. The question is whether it's monetarily feasible for them to do so or not. Clearly MFRs have seen the Raptor alone in the ATA @ 10k space for quite some time, and nobody else has decided to move there. I assume there are financial reasons for this, as it's definitely technically possible. As an enthusiast you just have to come to terms with the fact that you are not the market that most HD MFRs cater to.

    quote:

    Is it technically feasible to allow simultaneous use of all drive heads, as opposed to 1 at a time?


    My guess is no. I think positioning mechanisms are constantly making small adjustments to keep the head on track. It's impossible to expect more than one head in the stack to be centered on track at any given time. Keep in mind there are thousands of tracks in one inch, and the adjustments made may only be a fraction of a thousandth of an inch. One head works because it gets close, then the formatting info feeds back to the positioning mechanism to tell it 'a little to the right' or 'a little to the left' several times each rotation to keep it centered on each track. It's impossible to expect multiple surfaces to stay on track, as they would all need independent mechanisms for that fine adjustment.

    quote:

    I would think things like these would set a drive apart quite noticably in the current field of mediocricy.


    I think people often have unrealistic expectations of drives. Check the gigabyte iRAM review here on AT to see what the ultimate performance could be. This review showed me that there really aren't huge performance benefits to be had through storage improvements.
    Reply
  • hoppa - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    "Mouth-watering benchmarks," yet you can't even recommend it?

    The benchmarks are good on this thing, yes, but they don't make it the best drive (which is what, 2 years old at this point?), and with new releases coming out in CPU/Video/RAM which routinely clobber the past competition, this is really kinda sad. I understand all the technology very well, and it has been clear for a while that today's model of the hard-drive won't see any real speed improvements without some major ideas, and no one is coming up with them.

    -andy
    Reply
  • thatsright - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    How is this 'Mouthwatering?'

    Just another okay-average HD. The title really is misleading......
    Reply
  • SlinkyDink - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    on the "Application Load Times (average, seconds)" graph on the Photoshop CS benchmark:

    Wy is the Seagate with 8.024 highlighted instead of the Hitachi with 7.984?
    Reply
  • yacoub - Monday, October 24, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Being the newest and highest capacity in Seagate's line of hard drives, we chose to look at it exclusively


    Why is Anandtech like this now? How about reviewing the other capacities, especially one around 250GB that most people would tend to buy? It's getting a bit ridiculous around here with all the reviews ONLY focusing on the largest, most expensive part available. :[
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now