These days we're on the threshold of the fourth-generation 10,000rpm disk, with drives from Seagate already readily available from many resellers and units from Quantum and Big Blue in the wings. These drives feature the latest in areal density, packing upwards of 7 gigs onto a single 3" platter. Recently, however, Seagate re-released its third-generation Cheetah 18LP, updated with an Ultra160/m SCSI interface and a larger buffer.
As a third-generation unit, the 18LP AV features 3 gigs of data per platter. Combined with its six-platter construction, the drives sports an 18.2 GB capacity. Its rated seek time, however, is just as fast as Seagate's fourth-generation units at 5.2 milliseconds. The standard 18LP features a one meg buffer. The AV version, on the other hand, features four megs of cache, matching today's units. The fact that all other mechanics remain identical, however, allows for an interesting opportunity to gauge the effects of buffer size on overall performance. The 18LP AV features an enterprise-class 5-year warranty.
The Cheetah 18LP AV is one of the first drives to receive an individual review following the rollout of our new testbed. As a result, we're providing figures collected on both the new and old systems. We'll continue to do so for an interim period before phasing out the old testbed entirely.