Products of the Year 2004:

Disk and disk subsystems

Silver Award:

Seagate Cheetah 15K.5 300GB enterprise hard drive

It's not news that hard drives, perhaps more than any other storage component, profoundly affect storage performance and reliability. The Cheetah 15K.5 300GB hard drive from Seagate Technology LLC earned a silver in the disk subsystems category for its impressive marriage of capacity and performance.

Cheetah drives are available in a 3.5-inch form factor at 73GB, 146GB and 300GB capacities, though it's the move to 300GB that's truly interesting. The key to this enhanced capacity is perpendicular recording technology, which magnetizes through the disk media (perpendicular to the disk) rather than along the disk plane (longitudinally). This effectively increases the recording areal density and allows for more storage capacity. At the same time, more bits per inch are flying under the heads, so data rates are increased for added performance. Cheetah drives are available for several interfaces, including Ultra320 SCSI, 3Gb/sec SAS and 4Gb/sec Fibre Channel.

Several judges call the drive technology "innovative." One skeptical judge calls the Cheetah "just another disk drive" that will inevitably be displaced by bigger and better models, but that judge missed the point: The Cheetah drive will influence the entire storage industry, while perpendicular data recording pushes drive capacities into the terabyte range.

View all Disk and disk subsystems