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New Desktop Hard Drives: Speed Or Capacity?

New Desktop Hard Drives: Speed Or Capacity?
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Western Digital’s Caviar Green is the first hard drive to offer an impressive 2 TB of capacity. Seagate has also introduced a new drive, the Barracuda 7200.12, but its capacity only spans up to 1 TB. Samsung recently launched its Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen drive with 500 GB of capacity, though that one will ramp up to 1.5 TB soon.

All these drives feature the same 500 GB per-platter capacity, but that is all they have in common. We look at which drive offers the best value for your money.

Performance Versus Capacity

While desktop hard drives used to be based exclusively on 7,200 RPM spindle speeds, combining both high performance and high capacity, the market is clearly moving in a different direction now. We still expect many, if not most drives to be one-for-all products, meaning that the majority of hard drives will deliver high performance and large capacities. However, the disk drive market is splitting into two segments. There will be more products with a focus on performance, such as flash solid-state drives (SSDs) and high-performance drives like Western Digital’s VelociRaptor. There will also be storage hard drives and solutions geared for higher capacity at the expense of performance.

Performance- Versus Storage-Oriented Drives

Performance-oriented drives are expected to run fast when speed especially counts for operating systems and applications. Obviously, flash SSDs, such as Intel’s X25-M, deliver maximum throughput of over 200 MB/s with almost no access time. These drives don’t even consume a lot of power.

Storage-oriented drives, on the other hand, usually offer spindle speeds of 5,400 RPM or 7,200 RPM and are geared for backup, whether you are storing photo, music, or video files. These storage-oriented drives offer capacities of up to 2 TB offer and have sufficient performance for less performance-driven applications.

Low Power Trends

The IT industry continues to jump on the low-power bandwagon, but much hype remains. For example, we believe that low power should not be touted as an extra feature, but should instead be a basic requirement for each and every product. Samsung’s Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen and the Western Digital Caviar Green address this hype by focusing on high capacity per watt. Effectively, they represent nice storage drives according to our definition. In the case of the new Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 desktop hard drive, Seagate seeks to the HDD performance crown, but as our benchmarks show, the competition is stiff.