The 2TB monster features a large 64 MB cache, which is the largest seen on a regular HDD. However, several SSDs already use 128MB caches, and at least one controller design in the works is capable of accessing up to 256MB of cache. It is these large and fast caches that are driving SATA standards forward.
The latest version of Seagate's SeaTools software allows for short-stroking, in which data is stored only on the outer tracks of the drive, allowing greater access speed at a reduction in capacity. The company claims that a short-stroked Barracuda XT using 1TB of storage will be able to compete with a 10k RPM Velociraptor drive from competitor Western Digital.
The company is targeting high performance and gaming PCs, low cost servers for SMBs, and external storage applications using eSATA for the new drive. Seagate expects almost 20% of all HDDs sold in 2010 will have a capacity of 1TB or greater.
The new drive (model ST32000641AS) comes with a 5-year warranty at a MSRP of $299. It should be available at retail by the end of this week.
Despite all the enthusiasm from Seagate, it will be SSDs that see the greatest performance jump with the move to the next generation for the SATA interface. Several SSDs are already hitting the limits of SATA II when reading from their cache.
Adoption of the new SATA standard is currently slow, as the ASUS P7P55D is the only motherboard that is natively capable of support 6Gbps. Older motherboards are capable of such speeds only through the use of a PCIe adapter card.
The problem is that motherboard manufacturers are waiting for a new I/O Controller Hub (ICH) from Intel. Commonly known as a southbridge, the new ICH is expected to support new technologies such as SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps. AMD is also working on a new southbridge to support these technologies.