Hardware Setup

Standard Test Bed
Playback of iPEAK Trace Files and Test Application Results
Processor: AMD Opteron 170 utilized for all tests
RAM: 2 x 1GB Corsair 3500LL PRO
Settings - DDR400 at (2.5-3-3-7, 1T)
OS Hard Drive: 1 x Western Digital 7200 RPM SATA (16MB Buffer)
System Platform Drivers: NVIDIA Platform Driver - 6.85
Video Card: 1 x Asus 7600GS (PCI Express) for all tests.
Video Drivers: NVIDIA nForce 84.21 WHQL
Optical Drive: BenQ DW1640
Cooling: Zalman CNPS9500
Power Supply: Corsair HX620W
Case: Gigabyte 3D Aurora
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2
Motherboard: MSI K8N Diamond Plus

Our current test bed reflects changes in the marketplace over the past six months. Based upon the continuing proliferation of dual core processors and future roadmaps from AMD and Intel signifying the end of the single core processor on the desktop in the near future, we settled on an AMD Opteron 170. This change will also allow us to expand our real world multitasking benchmarks in the near future while providing a stable platform for the next six months. We are currently conducting preliminary benchmark testing under Vista with both 2GB and 4GB memory configurations. We will offer real-world Vista benchmarks once the driver situation matures but IPEAK results will continue to be XP based as the application is not compatible with Vista.

Test Setup - Software

With the variety of disk drive benchmarks available, we needed a means of comparing the true performance of the hard drives in real world applications. While we will continue to utilize HDTach and PCMark05 for comparative benchmarks our logical choice for application benchmarking is the Intel iPeak Storage Performance Toolkit version 3. We originally started using this storage benchmark application in our Q2 2004 Desktop Hard Drive Comparison. The iPeak test can be designed to measure "pure" hard disk performance, and in this case we kept the host adapter consistent while varying the hard drive models. The idea is to measure the performance of individual hard drives with a consistent host adapter.

We utilize the iPeak WinTrace32 program to record precise I/O operations when running real world benchmarks. We then utilize the iPeak AnalyzeTrace program to review the disk trace file for integrity and ensure our trace files have properly captured the activities we required. Intel's RankDisk utility is used to play back the workload of all I/O operations that took place during the recording. RankDisk generates results in a mean service time in milliseconds format; in other words, it gives the average time that each drive took to fulfill each I/O operation. In order to make the data more understandable, we report the scores as an average number of I/O operations per second so that higher scores translate into better performance in all of our iPeak results. While these measurements will provide a score representing "pure" hard drive performance, the actual impact on the real world applications can and will be different.

Each drive is formatted before each test run and three tests are completed in order to ensure consistency in the benchmark results. The high and low scores are removed with the remaining median score representing our reported result. We utilize the NVIDIA nF4 SATA ports along with the NVIDIA IDE-SW driver to ensure consistency in our playback results when utilizing NCQ, TCQ, or RAID settings. Although we test NCQ capabilities, all of our reported results are generated with NCQ off unless otherwise noted. We will test our Deskstar 7K1000 with AAM and NCQ turned on as AAM does not noticeably impact performance and this drive performs better with NCQ on in the majority of our tests.

Our iPeak tests represent a fairly extensive cross section of applications and usage patterns for both the general and enthusiast user. We will continually tailor these benchmarks with an eye towards the drive's intended usage and feature set when compared to similar drives. In essence, although we will reports results from our test suite for all drives, it is important to realize a drive designed for PVR duty will generate significantly different scores in our gaming benchmarks than a drive designed with gaming in mind such as the WD Raptor. This does not necessarily make the PVR drive a bad choice for those who capture and manipulate video while also gaming. Hopefully our comments in the results sections will offer proper guidance for making a purchasing decision in these situations. Our iPeak Test Suite consists of the following benchmarks.

VeriTest Business Winstone 2004: trace file of the entire test suite that includes applications such as Microsoft Office XP, WinZip 8.1, and Norton Antivirus 2003.

VeriTest Multimedia Content Creation 2004: trace file of the entire test suite that includes applications such as Adobe Photoshop 7.01, Macromedia Director MX 9.0, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0, Newtek Lightwave 3D 7.5b, and others.

AVG Antivirus 7.1.392: trace file of a complete antivirus scan on our test bed hard drive.

Microsoft Disk Defragmenter: trace file of the complete defragmentation process after the operating system and all applications were installed on our test bed hard drive.

WinRAR 3.51: trace file of creating a single compressed file consisting of 444 files in 10 different folders totaling 602MB. The test is split into the time it takes to compress the files and the time it takes to decompress the files.

File Transfer: individual trace files of transferring the Office Space DVD files to our source drive and transferring the files back to our test drive. The content being transferred consists of 29 files with a content size of 7.55GB.

AnyDVD 5.9.6: trace file of the time it takes to "rip" the Office Space DVD. We first copy the entire DVD over to our source drives, defragment the drive, and then measure the time it takes for AnyDVD to "rip" the contents to our test drive. While this is not ideal, it does remove the optical drive as a potential bottleneck during the extraction process and allows us to track the write performance of the drive.

Nero Recode 2: trace file of the time it takes to shrink the entire Office Space DVD that was extracted in the AnyDVD process into a single 4.5GB DVD image.

Game Installation: individual trace files of the time it takes to install Sims 2 and Battlefield 2. We copy each DVD to our secondary test drives, defragment the drive, and then install each game to our source drive.

Game Play: individual trace files that capture the startup and about 15 minutes of game play in each game. The Sims 2 trace file consists of the time it takes to select a pre-configured character, setup a university, downtown, business from each expansion pack (pre-loaded), and then visit each section before returning home. Our final trace file utilizes Battlefield 2 and we play the Daqing Oilfield map in both single and multiplayer mode.

Feature Set: Hitachi 7K1000 Performance: HD Tach and HDTune
POST A COMMENT

74 Comments

View All Comments

  • mikeg - Thursday, April 26, 2007 - link

    Its been a over a month since the article came out and I still don't see any in the retail stores or a non OEM drive. Where can I get one?? Anyone see a retail box of these drives a a retailer? I want to get a couple
    Mike
    Reply
  • jojo4u - Monday, March 26, 2007 - link

    Hello Gary,

    the Hitachi datasheet refers to three idle modes using APM. The results with AAM enabled could suggest that APM is automatically engaged with AAM. So perhaups one should check the APM level with Hitachi's Feature Tool or the generic tools http://hdparm-win32.dyndns.org/hdparm/">hdparm or hddscan.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, March 30, 2007 - link

    We had a lengthy meeting with the Hitachi engineers this week to go over APM and AAM modes along with the firmware that is shipping on the Dell drives. I hope to have some answers next week as testing APM capabilities on a Dell based system resulted in a slightly different behavior than our test bench. I have completed the balance of testing with various AAM/NCQ on/off combinations and some additional benchmark tests. I am hoping to update the article next week. Also, I ran acoustic tests in a different manner and will have those results available. Until, then I did find out that sitting a drive on a foam brick outside of a system and taking measurements from the top will mask some of the drives acoustic results. The majority of noise emitted from this drive comes from the bottom, not the top. ;) Reply
  • ddarko - Monday, March 26, 2007 - link

    "However, Hitachi has informed us they have the capability to go to 250GB per-platter designs but launched at smaller capacities to ensure their reliability rate targets were met. Considering the absolute importance of data integrity we think this was a wise move."

    This sounds like an sneaky attempt by Hitachi to raise doubt about the safety of Seagate's forthcoming 1TB drive. Where is the data to support this rather bold statement that 250GB platters designs are not as capable as 200GB designs of meeting these completely unspecified "reliability rate targets"? What does that even mean? Can we infer that 150GB platter designs are even more reliable than 200GB designs? It's disappointing to see the review accept Hitachi's statement without question, going so far as to even applaud Hitachi for its approach without any evidence whatsoever to back it.
    Reply
  • Lord Evermore - Thursday, March 22, 2007 - link

    While I know memory density in general isn't increasing nearly as fast as hard drive size, 32MB cache seems pretty chintzy for a top-end product. I suppose 16MB on the 750GB drives is even worse.

    My first 528MB hard drive with a 512KB cache was a 1/1007 ratio (using binary cache size, and labelled drive size which would be around binary 512MB). Other drives still had as little as 128KB cache, so they could have been as little as a 1/4028 ratio, but better with smaller drives. I think anything larger than 512MB always had 512KB.

    A 20GB drive with 2MB cache is 1/9536 ratio.

    A 100GB drive with 2MB cache is 1/47683.

    Then the jump to 8MB cache makes the ratio much better at 1/11920 for a 100GB drive (I'm ignoring the lower-cost models that had higher capacities, but still 2MB cache). Then it gets progressively worse as you get up to the 500GB size drives. Then we make another cache size jump, and the 160GB to 500GB models have a 16MB option, which is back to 1/9536 on a 160GB, to 1/29802 on a 500GB.

    The trend here being that we stick with a particular cache size as drive size increases so the ratio gets worse and worse, then we make a cache size jump which improves the ratio and it gets worse again, then we make another cache size jump again.

    Now we go to 750GB drives with 16MB cache. Now we are up to a 1/44703 ratio, only the 2nd worse ever, seems like time for another cache increase. Jumping to 32MB with a 100TB drive only makes it 1/29802. Not a very significant change despite doubling the cache again, since the drive size also increased, and it'll only get worse as they increase the drive size. Even 32MB on a 750GB drive is 1/22351, only slightly better than the 16MB/500GB flagship drives when they came out, and we don't even HAVE a 32MB/750GB drive.

    A 512MB cache would be nice. That's still not the best ratio ever, it's still 1/1862, but that's a heck of a lot better than 1/30,000th. At the very least, they need to jump those cache chip densities a lot, or use more than one. Even a single 512MB density chip would be 64MB, still not great but better.
    Reply
  • Per Hansson - Sunday, March 25, 2007 - link

    Bigger caches would almost make it a necessity that you run the system on a UPS.

    Loosing 32mb of data that is yet to be written to the platters is allot, but 512mb?

    And the UPS would not take into account OS crashes...

    I'm not sure how much this would affect performance either, but a review of a SCSI drive with a SCSI controller with 2mb - 1gb of cache would answer that question well...
    Reply
  • yehuda - Wednesday, March 21, 2007 - link

    Do they plan to launch a single platter variant sometime in the near future? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 21, 2007 - link

    They will be releasing a 750GB variant in May. Our initial reports have the single platter drives along with the 300~500GB models coming later in the summer. I am trying to get that confirmed now. Reply
  • DeathSniper - Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - link

    Last page..."The Achilles heal of the Seagate 750GB drive..."
    I think it should be heel, not heal ;)
    Reply
  • Spacecomber - Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - link

    While this drive has enough in the way of other features to make it stand out from the crowd, I was a bit surprised to see that Hitachi hadn't upped the warranty to 5 years for this drive, which is what Seagate offers on most of their drives and WD offers on their raptors. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now