IBM owns the distinction of being second only to Seagate to enter the 10k RPM SCSI arena. Though the industry is perched on the verge of a transition to 15k RPM drives, 10k units still represent the bleeding edge of today's performance.
The year 2000 marks the fourth generation of 10k RPM hard disks. Over eight months ago, IBM held the distinction of being the first to announce 4th generation units, its Ultrastar 73 and 36LZX. Interestingly, it's only now that we're starting to see Big Blue's units enter the channel... months after Seagate's 4th generation Cheetah, a series who's announcement came after the Ultrastar.
The specs of the Ultrastar36LZX match those of the Cheetah 36LP/18XL series fairly well. Both units (as well as Quantum's Atlas 10k II) feature, of course, a 10k RPM spindle speed. Both the Cheetah and Ultrastar place 6.1 gigs of data on one platter, a bit less than the areal-density-leading Atlas, yielding a flagship capacity of 36.7 gigs. The model reviewed here, featuring 3 platters, stores a total of 18.4 gigs of data. IBM specifies a slightly swifter seek time - 4.9 milliseconds to the Cheetah's 5.2ms... though Quantum's unit trumps both with a 4.7ms seek. Like the Cheetah, the Ultrastar features a 4 meg buffer, half the size of the Atlas 10k II. An industry-standard 5 year warranty protects the drive.
Lets turn to StorageReview.com's standard suite of benchmarks to determine where the Ultrastar 36LZX fits in the 10k hierarchy.