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Hard Drives, Yesterday And Today: From 500 GB To 1.5 TB

Hard Drives, Yesterday And Today: From 500 GB To 1.5 TB

Hard drives have now reached the 2,000 GB (2 TB) capacity level, and performance has been steadily going up as well. Hard drive makers have finally incorporated power consumption into their design decisions, making modern hard drives not only bigger and faster, but also more efficient when looked at either from a performance per watt or capacity per watt standpoint.

We took the last three Samsung desktop hard drive product generations and compared their top models to analyze how much progress has been made in the hard drive space.

Hard Drives Versus Solid State Drives

The most recent solid state drives, which are referred to as flash SSDs, have reached capacities of up to 256 GB, and their performance often exceeds 200 MB/s with extremely short latencies. However, only a few of them are truly worth the several hundred dollar investment they demand, as flash SSDs require intelligent, multi-channel configurations with smart controllers and cache memory. The cache is required to enable command queuing, in an effort to maximize wear leveling and performance with changing performance loads. But we’ll stop talking about flash storage, as it is only interesting in the very high-end and the very low-end. Hard drives will continue to dominate the storage market for several years.

Capacities of up to 2 TB cannot yet be realized on flash memory; and if it were possible, it would cost thousands. The cost advantage in the mainstream is even more significant, as terabyte hard drives are available at only $100, while you have to spend three times as much for only 10-20% of the capacity on flash SSDs. And finally, the flash market could not even supply sufficient flash memory to saturate the storage demands of today (and tomorrow).

Samsung: From 0-60 Within A Few Product Generations

Most people don’t think about Samsung when they talk about hard drives, but the Korean company has managed to become an important player, next to Seagate, Hitachi, and Western Digital. The Japanese companies Fujitsu and Toshiba are still pretty active, but they mainly focus on notebook drives (Fujitsu, Toshiba) or server hard drives (Fujitsu). The latter also applies to Seagate and Hitachi. Samsung and WD have server offerings, but their product lines are limited.

Desktop Hard Drive Analysis

We will look at some notebook hard drives in a future article, as these HDD types will dominate the storage market in coming years, due to the shift from stationary to mobile computing. Today we’ll look at three hard drive generations by Samsung: the Spinpoint T166 at 500 GB, the Spinpoint F1 EcoGreen 1000 GB, and the Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen 1500 GB. These represent Samsung’s last three product lines, and they serve as perfect examples to pinpoint where storage is heading.

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  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 11 June 2009 15:47
    "Most people don’t think about Samsung when they talk about hard drives"

    How do you figure that?
  • 0 Hide
    x3style , 11 June 2009 16:26
    How about you test these drives with the AAM(AUTOMATIC ACOUSTIC MANAGEMENT) turned off?
    I'm pretty sure it will be quite an interesting benchmark.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 12 June 2009 01:29
    Though it is a very informative article, I find the temperature measurement for the T166 (500gb) drive inconsistent with my own T166. Using SMART drive information, it runs idle at 31C. Not 45C.
  • 0 Hide
    faurdanut , 12 June 2009 07:19
    Wow good article :D  buth i need a help too.
    i wan't to buy a new HDD and i need help to decide wich form the two HDD it's the best: HE103UJ (7 years worrantin) or WD1002FBYS (8 years warrentin) :|

    Someone can help me ? the hdd i will use it for storrage or for run the OS (Vista/Windows 7 x64)
  • 1 Hide
    Clintonio , 12 June 2009 22:46
    I have the 2007 and 2008 model, and I want to get their 2009 1.5TB 7200RPM model at some point, as well as an SSD (possibly Samsung). I'm a bit of a storage geek, and, from where I sit, Samsung is the best storage solution.

    Nice guide, handy for those looking for HDDs.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 15 June 2009 23:54
    I like WD :D 
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 19 June 2009 06:35
    i use western digital, simply because, i've got a sammy 1.5TB on RMA for the 4th time since i got the drive a few months ago, whereas the WD i got at the same time (a 1tb drive) is still chugging away. i've had several sammys die, never lost a WD in 5 years.
  • 0 Hide
    hockeyboy567 , 22 June 2009 23:31
    There is now a 512 gigabyte SSD from Toshiba and Super Talent.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , 27 July 2009 02:11
    I agree with anon, I also have had 4 Samsung drive failures. Price performance is irrelevent when reliability is compromised. I am going back to Seagates.