At 400 GB, Hitachi DeskStar is new heavyweight champ

Alexandra Barrett, Storage Trends Editor

For the second time in less than a month, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) has broken the capacity record with one of its disk drives. Today, it announced an ATA and serial ATA (SATA)

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disk drive, the 7,200 rpm DeskStar 7K400.

With this announcement, Hitachi usurps the capacity crown from Maxtor Corp., which tops out at 320 GB with its 5,400 rpm MaxLine II. Maxtor still leads the market for desktop-class ATA and SATA drives, though, with Hitachi trailing as a distant third -- or even fourth, depending on how you look at it.

In its research, Hitachi has found three separate "interest areas" for the product, says Jack Schiffhauer, Hitachi's product marketing manager. These are the markets for audio-video (AV) products, nearline storage and even gaming PCs. Says Schiffhauer: "There exists a serious gaming subculture that is significant in size, and they are continually looking at what are the highest-performance, highest-capacity drives."

The new drive hit the 400 GB mark by upping the number of platters to five, compared with three on the DeskStar 7K250. In other words, Hitachi has not increased its areal density. Hitachi is marketing this as a plus: "This is an evolutionary, not a revolutionary product," Schiffhauer says, that relies on "proven heads and media."

Nevertheless, the DeskStar 7K400 does include several noteworthy improvements to its predecessor. It tips its hat to the AV and gaming communities with its ATA-7 AV Streaming Feature, which allows the drive to "ignore errors in the near term, log them, and correct for them later," Schiffhauer explains.

Then, for nearline applications, the drive includes a rotation vibration sensor, or RVS. Environments that pack in a lot of drives in a small space tend to create vibrations, especially at higher rpms, explains Schiffhauer. Equipped with RVS, the drive can compensate for environmental vibration, and help keep read-write heads on track. A standard feature on 10,000 and 15,000 rpm drives, "this is a key feature for high drive-density systems."

The drive is shipping to OEMs and is expected to reach volume levels by April or May.


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