Seagate Barracuda 7200.8: 400GBs with NCQ

by Purav Sanghani on 4/20/2005 4:30 PM EST


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  • zforgetaboutit - Thursday, May 26, 2005 - link

    The review has a table showing the drives' spec sheets. Among the stats are "average seek times (AST)". But I don't see average seek times benchmarked, as such.

    So, on the one hand, the Seagate's spec shows an AST of 8.x seconds, but other reviews have shown it to be 11+ seconds.

    I propose that if the review goes as far as to publish the purported AST, then it has an obligation to test it as well, with a discrete benchmark, such as HDTach or some other explicit AST benchmark.

    Otherwise companies will start to claim 2 ms AST, and Anandtech won't be able to refute it, if it's a blatantly bogus claim.

  • OrSin - Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - link

    I see you explain how you take your sound measurements, but you really need to do it differently. The raptors are load as hell and seagate are queit and accourding to measure they are equal? Serious I undestand your reasoning for it, but it's just flawed. If a test seems right but produces obviously (and I mean obviously) wrong results then you need a new method.

    I had to send a raptor back it was so loud. I had to look at my computer (SFF) evertime i booted up to make sure it was going to rock off the table. Now my computer was a not actually moving but it sounding like it vibrating enough to move.
  • Zak - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    Your articles are often difficult to read due to your use of some weird convoluted sentence structure. Why can't you guys use simpler, more accessible language??? Exampple:

    "RPM, or revolutions per minute, is the measure of instances that the motor of the hard drive can rotate the platters by a full 360 degrees."

    How about:

    "RPM, or revolutions per minute, the speed of platter rotation: how many times the platters rotate every minute." or something like that.

  • JPSJPS - Monday, April 25, 2005 - link

    Purav Sanghani - Poster 32 and especially poster 33 pointed out an obvious mistake that only a complete newbie would make. This makes all of your data questionable!!! Have you considered having someone with a little technical knowledge review your stuff before you publish it? Reply
  • PuravSanghani - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    TrogdorJW: The recordings as well as decibel readings were taken 1" away from the side of each drive. Obviously the sound emitted from the drives would not be as loud when inside a sealed case, but to get an accurate reading of the sound emissions from each drive and comparing them to each other requires that we take readings close to each unit.

    smn198: You are right, the frequency of the sound produced by each drive does make a world of difference. In the past when looking at case fans, we observed that larger 120mm fans are quieter than smaller 80mm fans because they produce a lower frequency which is less noticeable to humans. This is definitely the case with anything that produces any sound, including hard drives.
  • ohnnyj - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    I want to know how you get Photoshop to open in under seven seconds on a Raptor. My RAID0 array opens in about 14-15. It opens faster if you open, close, then reopen again so I wonder if this is how the test was performed. Reply
  • Phantronius - Friday, April 22, 2005 - link

    Just bought 2 160gig Barracuda's to replace my noisey as hell Western Digitals. I freaking love them, soooooo much quieter.

  • TrogdorJW - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    A few things to note on noise (from my perspective):

    1) The hard drive noise levels were probably taken very close to the drives in order to capture them. Just FYI. 52 to 54 dBA is rather loud. Purav, what was the distance of your SPL meter from the drives?

    2) Seek noise can be very noticeable. My own experience reflects what's in the charts, with the Samsung being the quietest. Seagate and Hitachi are moderately loud, and the Maxtor and Western Digital Raptor are the loudest. (Raptor seek noise sounds louder to me than what's in the recordings.) I don't know about the decibel ratings, but it seems like if you started the charts at 50 that it would reflect more what I hear. (i.e. Samsung would be 1.2 to 2.4 and Hitachi would be 1.6 to 4.4)

    3) Bearing noise is generally either near-silent (Samsung, Seagate, and just about any other FDB implementation, including the Raptors) or else it's noticeable. The WDxxxxBB/JB models are notorious for having a lot of bearing noise, as are older Maxtor drives. I've got four WD's at my place, and I hate them all! :-p (They're a bit faster in a lot of tests, but they're too noisy.)

    4) Ignoring the echo in the recordings (MP3 compression can cause some funky artifacts), listen to the Maxtor 10 - Ouch! That thing is killer loud.
  • JonB - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Since my motherboard SATA controllers don't support NCQ, I have three choices. Leave it disabled (which doesn't seem so bad in some respects), get a new motherboard, or add a Promise or Adaptec PCI controller card.

    Anybody got experience with an add-in Promise RAID with NCQ support???
  • smn198 - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #28 - "Maybe we're seeing no boost with NCQ because of poor implementation, who knows. Testing with just one platform will not reveal such issues."

    I seem to remember Anand saying the opposite
    "What's truly impressive, however, is the reduction in average response time - up to a 90ms decrease in response time, thanks to NVIDIA's superior NCQ implementation. "

    However, Anand did mention that NVIDIA took the decision not to 'turn on' NCQ until the queue depth had exceeded a certain amount. (Cannot remember which article that was in.) It may be that in some of these tests, this queue depth was not exceeded.

    #30 - "How is the 7200.7 120Gb drive louder then a Raptor? My 7200.7 120Gb drive is near SILENT, no where loud as a Raptor. I think your measuring device is off forthe Acoustics test."

    This may be due to the fact that the noise the Raptor emits is at a different, more audible frequency.
  • AtaStrumf - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #29 - I found a similar test that includes a WD Caviar drive and from what I can tell it is not exactly lagging.
  • Calin - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    In "WinBench99" page, you said "The Disk Transfer Rate test reads from the media in a linear fashion from the beginning (inner tracks) to the end (outer tracks)". It's false, the hard drives have the beginning tracks on the outside (well, exterior) of the platters, and the inner drives in the interior part. The reason is that while stationary, the read heads stay outside of the media, and they will reach the outer tracks sooner. Also, on the outer tracks the data density is increased, so the data read and write speed is increased also. Reply
  • emboss - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    I'd say you need to ditch Winbench 99 for transfer tests. It's physically impossible for drives to have the same transfer rate on the inside and outside of the platters. Not to mention that the ONLY drives that showed this behaviour were NCQ drives. I suspect what is happening is that the NCQ reordering is stuffing things up by reading the data out-of-order, and that the reordering process delivers the data in one (or several) burst blocks that do not correspond to the real transfer rate off the platters. Maybe HDTach might return more sensible numbers. Reply
  • Lonyo - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    Are you going to do some more HDD/NCQ testing when we get more dual core CPU's to test in multi-taking situations?
    The recent article on the Pentium D shows the benefits of NCQ combined with a dual core CPU (the single core CPU's didn't really show any improvement), so are you going to go more in depth hopefully soon (after you can publish results of AMD X2 CPU's)?
  • jm20 - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    How is the 7200.7 120Gb drive louder then a Raptor? My 7200.7 120Gb drive is near SILENT, no where loud as a Raptor. I think your measuring device is off forthe Acoustics test. Reply
  • segagenesis - Thursday, April 21, 2005 - link

    #20 - Thats easy. Ignoring the Raptor they are lagging behind on the consumer front compared to others. Last I checked they still charge a fair amount extra for a drive with a FDB motor. The performance just hasnt been up to par either. The days when the "Special Edition" drives were great are gone.

  • Palek - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Purav, you did not explain why you chose to test with an nForce chipset over a chipset from intel.

    For one thing, nVidia's ATA controllers/drivers have a fairly poor track record. I still remember the multitude of problems that cropped up when people installed nVidia ATA drivers on their nForce2 motherboards. I run my nForce2-based computer with MS ATA drivers because I am too afraid that the nVidia drivers will wreck my system (that, and ExactAudioCopy does not recognize any optical drives with the nVidia drivers installed). Admittedly, these issues were driver-related, but then nVidia's checkered past does not boost my confidence in their ability to provide an nForce4 driver that actually works according to spec. Maybe we're seeing no boost with NCQ because of poor implementation, who knows. Testing with just one platform will not reveal such issues.

    Also, among other things intel is known for their rock-solid and impressively fast ATA controllers, so an intel chipset would be the obvious platform of choice for testing such new technologies as NCQ.
  • erwos - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    "It's mentioned in the article that all of the 7200.8 drives use a 3x133gb platter configuration."

    This actually isn't true, from what I've read elsewhere. Read the following at StorageReview:

    It makes a lot more sense than the "leftover space" theorem.

  • quorm - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    xsilver, the drive is not "guaranteed reliable." The only warranty is that if it breaks within five years, they will repair/replace it. There is a possibility that data can be lost from any portion of the drive. You have no way of knowing whether this additional space, if accessible, would be any less reliable than the rest of the drive. Yes, modifying the drive would probably void the warranty, but I'm wondering if Seagate is selling software-limited, yet physically identical drives at different prices, much like with ATI's 9500/9700. Reply
  • Zar0n - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    With NCQ on u get worst results than with it off.
    This may be good at servers, but no good at desktop.
    I’ll say its bad implemented but, all drivers seem to suffer.
    So no NCQ for me...
  • PuravSanghani - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    mjz5: With our nForce4 platform there is an option under the drive controllers options tab called "Enable command queuing". By checking this option and restarting the system, command queuing will be enabled. Some boards, however, enable NCQ/TCQ by default through the BIOS. You may want to check with your motherboard manual on that.

    Take care,

  • mjz5 - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Nighteye2 has a good question. How does NCQ work with RAID arrays? Is it better, worse???

    How would I know if TCQ is enabled on my 74 raptor?
  • xsilver - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    #21 LOL --- you wouldnt want that space anyways even if it was there.... its cant be guaranteed reliable so would you trust 100gb's of your drive that could die at any moment??? Reply
  • quorm - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    I have one of the 300gb 7200.8 drives. It's mentioned in the article that all of the 7200.8 drives use a 3x133gb platter configuration. I was wondering if there is any hack to allow access to the remaining 100gb of disk space. Anyone? Reply
  • AtaStrumf - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Hey, where did all the WD drives (apart from Raptor obviously) go??? I can get a 200 GB PATA model pretty cheap, so I'm seriously considering it. Any advice anyone? Reply
  • n7 - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Thanx for the review guys :)

    flatblastard: I'd agree.

    The Raptors may not win all the benches, but i find they feel so much snappier than my other 7200RPM drives.

    I certainly wouldn't mind adding a 400 Gb Seagate to my collection though :)

  • bob661 - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Can you guys post a UT2004 for load time graph please. Reply
  • flatblastard - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    I'm using the raptor for my OS, and the 250GB seagate 7200.8 for everything else. I really can't tell which one is faster at loading games...but the raptor is MUCH quicker loading anything else. Reply
  • Icehawk - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Where were the heavier real-world multi-tasking tests like in the Intel DC previews? In those articles it appeared that NCQ offered some performance boost in heavy I/O situations - here it seems to offer zero benefit. Reply
  • Houdani - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    I dunno. Neither the Seagate nor the Maxtor NCQ drive really impressed me. They didn't stand out from the peleton. For most performance needs, I'd have to give the yellow jersey to the Raptor, although the idle heat is a noteworthy ding.

    For extra capacity one of the larger models would be prudent, but for a primary drive the Raptor is fairly impressive.
  • StormGod - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Hey Anandtech, please make sure your pages are 100% Firefox compatible! While were on the subject, you should really strive to make your pages HTML 4.01 compliant or XHTML 1.0 compliant. Reply
  • cosmotic - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    I was going to comment on the headings too... Reply
  • SLIM - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    The shading and color fill behind the headings and drive names is also missing in firefox. You can highlight the column headings to read what they are supposed to say in firefox. Glad I downloaded that ieview extension now. Reply
  • bigboxes - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    Yup. The column headers for these tables do not show up in Firefox. Reply
  • shoRunner - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    the column labels don't show up in firefox. Reply
  • shoRunner - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

  • PuravSanghani - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    segagenesis: It seems to be an issue with our sound meter or noise reduction process. We will look into it for our next review. Besides the echo, the recordings should be clear enough to differentiate how each drive sounds.

    Nighteye2: Your requests will be fulfilled soon. :)
  • Nighteye2 - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    You know, with all this talk about NCQ, 1 question has not yet been answered: how does it work with RAID? Can you use NCQ on a RAID system?

    Also, I'd like to see these tests run on a RAID system, see the performance advantage it gives. Maybe compare 2 cheap, somewhat slower drives in a RAID array against a single HD that you can get for the same price?
  • segagenesis - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    The benchmarks are hardly cut and dry yes, but I do enjoy the fact Seagate has a 5 year warranty on drives. This after seeing the industry at one point was putting out 1-year warranty stock on drives and if you paid extra, 3 years.

    Raptors are the fastest drives ive ever seen but the lack of space keeps them from being all inclusive. I was kind of suprised that the 7200.8 beat out the Raptor as far as game loading went!

    Whats with the weird echo-ish sound recordings of the hard drive noise? What on earth did you use to do this?
  • FreshPrince - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    man, I need to learn how to use this...anyways...I bought 40 of these drives for my company.

    16 goes into one raid and another 16 goes into another raid. So far so good, I hear no complaints from my tech guys.

    Also, I took 2 and used it as a DFS file server, it's handling 75 users no problems. :-)
  • FreshPrince - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

  • FreshPrince - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

  • skunklet - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    page 5: "...up to 3Gbps/sec"
    is that like... data acceleration?? wow
  • Son of a N00b - Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - link

    sweet, this makes me rethink buying raptorz for my next comp.... Reply

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