Seagate first with 6Gbps SATA drives

By Dave Simpson

-- Seagate today became the first disk drive manufacturer to ship 6Gbps SATA drives. The 3.5-inch, 7,200rpm Barracuda XT drives pack 2TB of capacity.

According to David Burks, Seagate's director of product marketing, the initial versions of the drives are designed primary for desktop/workstation applications such as multimedia creation, nonlinear creation/editing, high-performance gaming, etc., although the drives can also be used in low-end (e.g., one to four drives) servers as well.

Burks says that enterprise versions of the 6Gbps SATA drives are due in November. (One of the main differences between enterprise and desktop/workstation drives is the rotational and linear vibration tolerances.)

Burks also notes that cache-intensive, or cache-efficient, applications will best leverage the desktop drives because they come with a relatively large amount – 64MB – of cache memory.

Motherboard support for 6Gbps SATA is available from vendors such as ASUS and Gigabyte, and controller manufacturers are expected to follow suit, possibly by the end of the year.

As opposed to requiring discrete components from third-party sources, the Barracuda XT drives are based on Seagate's internally-developed ASICs. The four-platter, eight-head drives have an areal density of 368Gb per square inch.

Customers can use Seagate's SeaTools to trade-off capacity for increased performance by, for example, short-stroking a 2TB configuration into a 1TB configuration to increase the transfer rate from disk.

In the standard 2TB version, the drives have a maximum external transfer rate of 600MBps and a maximum sustained data rate from disk of 138MBps. Average latency is 4.16msec.

Also on the SATA disk drive front, Toshiba is shipping 2.5-inch, 7,200rpm, 3Gbps SATA drives with capacities of up to 500GB. The MKxx56GSY series drives are designed for notebooks and PCs, and have 250GB per platter. The drives come with 16MB of buffer memory.

Related articles:
Seagate lets loose new 3.5-inch Cheetah drives
SSDs and SATA 3.0: Why We Need 6Gbps

This article was originally published on September 21, 2009