Product: Barracuda 7200.nn Comparison
Company: Seagate
Authour: James 'Caveman' Prior
Editor: Eric 'Ichneumon' Amidon
Date: December 3rd, 2007

With the recent release of the Barracuda 7200.11 1Tb drive, Seagate claims 105 Mb/sec. sustained data rates. I thought it would be fun to compare a couple of the previous generationsí performance characteristics, in some simple benchmark testing.

At my disposal I had three sets of four Seagate Barracuda drives. Representing the 7200.9 era is the ST3250624AS, a 7200rpm 250Gb drive with 16Mb cache and a claimed max sustained transfer rate of 76.6 MB/sec. From the 7200.10 stable we have the ST3500630AS, again 7200rpm. Capacity is increased over the 7200.9 to 500Gb, but cache remains the same at 16Mb. Claimed max sustained transfer rate is 72Mb/sec. Last from the Seagate stable, I have the ST31000340AS representing the 7200.11 series. Again 7200rpm, but cache increased to 32Mb and a claimed max sustained transfer of 105Mb/sec. Finally, as a wild card, I have a WDFS version of the Western Digital 80Gb Raptor. This OEM only variant updates the venerable 1.5Gbps interface to SATA-II 3.0Gbps standards. Will the increased bandwidth make it even more attractive?

Testing was performed with HDTach, in both Windows XP SP2 and Vista Enterprise x64. LSIís popular megaRaid controller was used, in the form of 8204ELP. This four port controller uses softRaid to provide Raid 0/1/5/10 levels, with compatibility for SATA and SAS drives in a PCIe x4 package. The host machine was a Dell Precision 690 equipped with 4x1Gb 667Mhz FB-DIMMís and a Xeon 5160 (3.0Ghz 1333FSB Woodcrest) CPU. Some additional benching was done on two more controllers, the onboard Dell SAS5i/R controller (a re-flashed cut-down LSI controller itself), and an Adaptec 1430SA PCIe controller. The Adaptec and SAS 5i/R controllers were used to highlight controller performance vs. disk performance.

Each test was performed three times, and the best result used for comparison. It should be noted that 32-bit Windows XP had some trouble with arrays larger than 2Tb being reported correctly, leading to some slightly skewed results when taken in isolation.

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