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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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Question
By Brainonska511 on 6/8/2006 8:18:56 PM , Rating: 2
How come these drives only come in SCSI interfaces? Why not just slap on a SATA controller so we can easily use them in non-server PCs.




RE: Question
By phatboye on 6/8/2006 8:22:57 PM , Rating: 2
it's all about the money baby


RE: Question
By phatboye on 6/8/2006 8:26:10 PM , Rating: 2
if they were to make 15k rpm sata HD's no one would pay the premium for SCSI.


RE: Question
By RamboZZo on 6/9/2006 11:56:40 AM , Rating: 2
It has nothing to do with SCSI premiums. These drives are so expensive that even at an enthusiast level I highly doubt sales would even make a dent for seagate to bother making a SATA version. Its optimized and designed as an enterprise level drive and if you want one for your PC you might as well just splurge for the SCSI controller anyway. Beisdes, the good thing about a SCSI card is its a long term investment. Its one of the few PC components you'll never need to upgrade for years. Even a 7 year old Ultra 160 card can still move these drives just fine.


RE: Question
By cnimativ on 6/8/2006 8:32:27 PM , Rating: 1
Because SATA doesnt provide the RAS features that SAS/SCSI/FC standards have?

This is an enterprise/workstation level HDD, not your typical gaming enthusiast drive. Stay with Raptor as you probably won't need the extra I/O.

And if you want true performance, there are tons of SAS/SATA2 controllers out there for less than $1000. Extremely cheap for the performance if you have enough greens to buy FX/EE and quad SLi. HDD is usually system bottleneck anyway.


RE: Question
By Cybercat on 6/9/2006 12:56:19 AM , Rating: 2
Be that as it may, that doesn't mean some of this tech can't be used for a consumer version though. I say it's high-time Western Digital had some Raptor competition.

Even if they lowered it to 10k and something like 200GB (and obviously ax the enterprise features) that would still be extremely compelling.


RE: Question
By RMSistight on 6/8/2006 8:35:45 PM , Rating: 3
You took the words out of my mouth.


Very Expensive Platters
By AkaiRo on 6/8/2006 11:02:22 PM , Rating: 2
As the article says (and what seems to be an oddity to most) is the fact that, indeed, these 15Krpm drives are actually 2.5" platters housed in larger shells. The SAS SFF drives that are coming onto the market are really just these same platters housed in a different form factor.

Such densities on a small platter costs more which pretty much precludes mass market appeal. But that's OK because those of us who have to buy drives for servers are more than happy to use them when the project/application demands it.

But again, this is great news as that means it will be about a year until the 300GB SAS SFF drives make an appearance. Now if they can introduce them with the long-promised dual ported interfaces then life will truly be great.


1.5 million hours MTBF
By TheLiberalTruth on 6/9/2006 4:30:04 AM , Rating: 4
That's amazing. 1,500,000 hours works out to over 170 years .




RE: 1.5 million hours MTBF
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/9/2006 7:57:43 AM , Rating: 2
1,500,000 Hours Average

Divide by 24 Hours a Day

Divided by 365.25 Days a year.

Yea 171.11 Years it should last for.....

While our math is definately right on target. I'm not sure that figure is accurate, maybe it is.


RE: 1.5 million hours MTBF
By bonf on 6/9/2006 8:47:14 AM , Rating: 4
MTBF measures failure rate in the warranty period, i.e. what chance it has to survive the five years. With a MTBF of 1.5M years the chance of a dropout will be 3% in five years. After the five years it will be a lot higher, don't expect them to last for longer than 10 years, at most.



RE: 1.5 million hours MTBF
By TheLiberalTruth on 6/14/2006 8:44:40 AM , Rating: 4
Thank you for clearing that up.


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.


For a PC
By faiakes on 6/9/2006 12:13:57 PM , Rating: 2
So what would i need to have one of those beauties replace my 74GB Raptor? (And how on average would it cost)




RE: For a PC
By Hare on 6/10/2006 3:55:02 AM , Rating: 2
If you don't know you don't need a raptor...

A: (A decent SCSI-card)


RE: For a PC
By faiakes on 6/10/2006 4:08:53 PM , Rating: 2
I was just making sure as i 've never used one before.


Sign me up!
By mechBgon on 6/8/2006 10:32:03 PM , Rating: 2
I'll settle for a baby 73GB model. Cheetahs rock! :)




RE: Sign me up!
By Fnoob on 6/8/2006 10:41:06 PM , Rating: 2
The old 73G 10Ks are the most reliable drives I've ever seen- period.


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