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   HDD Article : Value Class ATA Drive Shootout »  
 

 

Value Class ATA Drive Shootout
   
 Date  : June 18th, 2001
 Category  : Storage
 Manufacturer   : Various
 Author  : Jin-Wei Tioh
Actually, this would have been a Value Class  ATA roundup, but we'll have to settle for a plain shootout since Fujitsu and Western Digital didn't manage to make it in time. So without further ado, let's introduce the contenders; the Seagate U Series 5 and the Quantum Fireball lct20.

The Seagate U Series 5 (U5 for short) is Seagate's 5th generation low-cost, entry-level hard disk solution. However, its name is a bit of a misnomer, leading you to think that it is a lower-end cousin of the U10. Quite the opposite is true : the U5 is the successor to the U10. What does it bring to the table? For starters, it packs 20GB/platter to achieve a 2-platter flagship capacity of 40GB. The drive packaging is the famous SeaShell, a simple and effective drive packaging that protects the drive against ESD and 1000Gs of shock. This time around, while most competitors spec average seek times of at least 9.5ms, Seagate specs a less conservative 8.9ms. Additionally, the U5 ships exclusively with the ATA-100 interface, though older specs (ATA-66 and ATA-33) will work as well. Buffer size is a sufficient 1MB. Though it's a value-class drive, the U5 is backed by an unusual full 3-year warranty.

The Value segment of the hard drive market seems to be booming, with every other manufacturer shipping solutions. True enough, Quantum has also entered the fray with the Fireball lct20. It sports a 10GB/platter density, which yields a flagship capacity of 40GB with 4 platters. Seek time is speced at a conservative 12ms and the drive buffer size is 128KB. We weren't able to get any information on the warranty period of the lct20, as it is still being determined. Drive packaging is standard fare, with the ubiquitous ESD bag, which does little to protect the dive against external shocks. What makes the Fireball lct20 unique is that while the competition has generally kept to the 5400rpm standard, Quantum has (in their words) "optimized" the lct20, lowering the spindle speed to 4500rpm. This, in tandem with their Quiet Drive Technology, aims to pay more attention to the environmental factors of drives, ie. noise and heat. However, in doing so, the rotational latency (a component of average seek time) has been increased from 5.6ms (5400rpm) to 6.7ms (4500rpm). There'll be lots of hue and cry, but let's examine Quantum's underlying rationale :

  1. A lowered rotational speed results in a minimization of the use of spindle motor power.
  2. A lower spindle speed only needs a slower actuator. Power usage by the actuator's motor is minimized.
  3. Lower cost. These slower, low-power parts cost less than their swifter counterparts (which would hopefully yield really low pricing).

The drives will be put head-to-head on our storage testbed using the defined methodologies. If you haven't read our Storage Testbed Disclosure, which divulges the testbed as well as methodologies, now would be a good time to do so. Let's get it on!

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