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Perpendicular, ultra fast and now spacious too

Seagate this week unveiled its new Cheetah 15K.5 (PDF), the world's fastest hard drive. The new drive is a 300GB beast, which at first doesn't seem like very impressive in terms of specifications. However, this drive spins at a blistering 15,000 RPM and at that speed, no other line of hard drive is faster.

How Seagate achieves the Cheetah's fast rotation speeds is by using platters that are actually smaller than those in standard desktop hard drives. The drives are physically similar, at 3.5-inches like most desktop hard drives, but inside the platters are small, allowing the fluid-bearing motor to whip those discs around at record speeds. The problem in the past with this is that Cheetah drives have been quite limited in size. You could use them for speed-focused applications and scenarios, but if you wanted space, you were out of luck unless more drives were purchased -- and these drives don't come cheap.

With the new Cheetah 15K.5, Seagate has moved the Cheetah family to perpendicular recording for the first time. This allows Seagate to pack more bits in less area, achieving greater capacities. The new line comes in 73GB, 146GB and 300GB capacities.  The following are some of the Cheetah 15K.5's specifications:
  • Max capacity: 300GB
  • Seek Time, Read/Write (average, msec.): 3.5/4.0
  • Transfer Rate, Sustained (MB/sec.): Up to 125MB/sec
  • Reliability rating at full 24x7 Operation (AFR), chance of failure: 0.62%
  • Non-recoverable Read errors per bits read: 1 sector per 10^16
  • Power consumption SCSI (Watts at idle): 12.5w (300GB), 9.6w (146GB), 8.1w (73GB)
  • Interface options: Ultra320 SCSI, 3Gbit/sec. SAS, 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel
  • Warranty (years): 5
Seagate's Cheetah family of drives is also known to have very high reliability ratings. Seagate usually labels them as having over 1.5 million hours of solid operation before failure, or MTBF (mean time before failure).

In related Seagate news, the company finished its acquisition of long-time competitor Maxtor, and in fact plans to lay-off as much as 90% of all Maxtor employees. The news caused a major stir and many are concerned about the future of employment for Americans. The company this week also unveiled full-time/full-disc encryption technology for its notebook drives, providing greater security for traveling users.

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Hope these actually hold up to "enterprise class"
By Fnoob on 6/8/2006 10:34:40 PM , Rating: 2
Does anyone else have any positive longterm experience with the 1st gen Seagate 15K's ? I had problems with several - very short lifespan - wouldnt call it enterprise class reliablity. Unless they've really made significant improvements, I would relegate any 15K product to the "enthusiast" rather than enterprise market. However, a cleanly installed OS on a 15K drive is a beautiful thing.

By AkaiRo on 6/8/2006 10:55:26 PM , Rating: 2
With all due respect, your batch of drives is the exception rather than the rule.

Seagate has always been one of the top providers of 15Krpm drives and a decent percentage of the drive mechanisms found in 1,200+ servers in my company's environment that have a lot of storage (min. 10 drives or more) have Cheetahs of all ages.

Hard to beat a good Cheetah for the long haul.

By Lifted on 6/8/2006 11:59:03 PM , Rating: 2
I built several workstations at my office using 73GB 15k Hitachi drives. Also used many in servers. Haven't had a single one die in the past 3 years.

With these new drives out, I'll probably grab 3 more of the old 73GB Hitachi's and slap them in my workstation for 4HDD RAID 0 array. I can't imagine things getting much faster than they are currently with just the one 15k though.

By emboss on 6/9/2006 3:14:52 AM , Rating: 2
I bought five first-gen (18GB) X15's second hand off ebay about a year ago. I've had four of them running in a RAID0 array (temporary storage space that needs low access time and tons of bandwidth, but I don't care if I lose the data) and have been pounding them for the best part of a year 24/7 and they haven't died on me yet :) The fifth is the OS/apps drive of another server - much lighter use, and probably way overkill - and hasn't given me any problems except a slight bearing whine (which it came with) compared to the other four.

I'm assuming they've already put in a good service at some place or other already, so I'd rate their reliability as not too bad. Of course, I have been keeping them well cooled in a rack enclosure - they get damn hot otherwise, and I wouldn't be surprised if this had a significant effect on their lifespan.

By Fnoob on 6/9/2006 9:54:30 AM , Rating: 2
I had the same array going - but had 2 of the 4 fail within 1 year. They would not even low level format. All done. Dunno why. Now, as an OS drive, ghosted for backup- these drives make fantastic 'cold sawp' replacements.

Must admit that the new 300G drives look to have the same access times as the old 18G which is amazing.

Anyone wanna chime in on whether or not a single drive is limited by my U160 controller v. a U320? I figure only in an array would the controller be a bottleneck. Thoughts?

By RamboZZo on 6/9/2006 12:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
You just had a bad experience with a bad batch then. I personally had some 1st gen X15's that are still spinning and worked with hundreds on them at work. They were standard issue in most of the servers. Had a few dozen servers with them ranging from 3 to 14 drives per machine and never had one fail.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes
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