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Seagate kills 5400 rpm desktop drives, all Barracudas now 7200 rpm

Lucas Mearian | Nov. 1, 2011
Seagate announced that it's bumping the platter rotation speed in all of its Barracuda hard drives from 5400 rpm to 7200 rpm.

Seagate today announced that it's bumping the platter rotation speed in all of its flagship Barracuda desktop hard drives from 5400 rpm to 7200 rpm.

The move to 7200 rpm across the board for Barracudas also means that Seagate is the first company to offer a 1TB of capacity at that drive rotation speed.

The move away from 5400 rpm drives is based on the advent of a new read/write head technology that has allowed Seagate to squeeze more data onto a drive platter and still be able to read it.

In another development, Seagate said it will be converting its line of Barracuda XT 3.5-in. hard drives to a hybrid drive technology by adding NAND flash to the drives as a caching element. Seagate already sells hybrid drives under its Momentus XT line, which has up to 500GB capacity. The Barracuda XT lineup includes models that have as much as 3TB of capacity. Seagate would not specify a date for the launch of the new Barracuda XT hybrid drives, saying only that its disclosure of the new line is to demonstrate it is committed to hybrid technology.

Seagate also announced its OptiCache technology, which boosts overall performance by as much as 45% over previous generation Barracuda drives. OptiCache is based on a new dual core microprocessor and a move from DDR1 to faster DDR2 DRAM on the drive. The technology allows the hard drive to use the full 64MB of DRAM cache as a single unit. Previously, Barracuda drives split up cache into smaller chunks that were less efficient, Burks said.

The new read/write head technology signals an end to Seagate's line of "green" Barracuda drives, which the company has been selling since 2009 . The Barracuda LP (low power) green series, is a lineup of 3.5-in. drives that Seagate marketed as consuming 50% less power than its previous 7200 rpm drives.

"While it is lower power consumption, we're waking up to the fact that it doesn't save that much electricity," said David Burks, product marketing manager for Seagate's desktop drive division.

Burks said a single Barracuda LP drive costs about $1.70 per year in electricity, while a 7200 rpm drive costs about $1.90 -- just 20 cents more. At the same time, a 7200 rpm drive runs 30% to 33% faster than a 5200 rpm drive, so a user is "giving up a significant level of performance to get a small power savings," he said.

An artist's depiction of Seagate's new AcuTrac read/write head technology.

New tracking hardware, called AcuTrac Servo Technology, allows Seagate to pack 340,000 tracks into every inch across a Barracuda disk platter compared with 236,000 tracks on previous hard drive iterations. Each track is 75 nanometers, or 0.075 microns, in size. A nanometer is 1,000 times smaller than a micron, which is one-millionth of a meter. The typical human hair is 100 microns in width. A typical grain of salt is 60 microns across. A dust mite is 20 microns across.


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