Small disks, big specs


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The future of 3.5-inch
As high-performance, IO-intensive production applications jump to 2.5-inch HDDs, 3.5-inch SATA drives will be increasingly used for archival storage and digital media storage. "We're seeing explosive demand here for Web 2.0, D2D backup and archival," says Sherman Black, senior VP and general manager of Seagate Enterprise Compute Business.

These applications involve rich media, digital media and static data. Backup and archival data is rarely, if ever, accessed. High performance isn't the issue; cheap capacity is. Large capacity, slow SATA drives are ideal.

"1TB drives could do a lot for us, especially for D2D backup," says Kim Mehring, manager at Sandhills Publishing Company's West Data Center in Scottsdale, AZ. Sandhills publishes a number of trade magazines and provides various data services to its clients. "We've already jumped from 500GB to 750GB. 1TB would be even better," says Mehring. Sandhills uses HP's MSA storage for its D2D storage and a dozen HP StorageWorks 600 All-in-One (AiO) Storage System arrays populated with industry-standard 146GB 3.5-inch SAS drives as modular production storage spread between two data centers.

The Research Foundation is interested in 1TB drives, too. It runs the full suite of Oracle Corp. applications and the foundation's Busdiecker says the 1TB drives would be a good fit to archive that application's

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Seagate began selling a 1.5TB desktop drive last month and enterprise-class 1TB SATA drives are available from several manufacturers. Western Digital Corp. introduced a 7,200 rpm 1TB SATA drive in June. It comes with a 3Gb/sec interface, but sports a 32MB cache to boost performance (retail price $249). In July, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies introduced its Deskstar 7K1000.B 1TB, 3Gb/sec 7,200 rpm 3.5-inch SATA drive, which it claims has "up to 43% idle power [electricity] savings over previous generation products." By 2009, 1TB SATA drives will seem puny when Seagate expects to release a 2TB drive.

"Now you've got dirt cheap, low performance, 1TB 3.5-inch SATA drives. If you combine them with MAID [massive array of idle disk] technology, the HDD industry can challenge tape for archival applications and long-term backup," suggests Sun's Wood.

This was first published in September 2008

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