Readers may recall that our original Deskstar 75GXP article that our sample was in fact a non-flagship representative... to bring a report to our readers in a timely manner, we had to forgo our usual practice of taking a look at the largest drive in a given family (in this case, the 75 gig version) in favor of a smaller capacity (45 gigs, provided by ASL). As part of our ATA RAID investigation, however, Medea Corp has been gracious enough to loan us an evaluation sample of their VideoRaid 4/300 RT. This beast consists of four Deskstar 75GXPs combined with custom electronics in its own chassis. We're thus afforded the opportunity of delivering on our promise of flagship 75GXP results.
Bringing on Associate Editor Tim Zakharov (if you've missed them, make sure you check out his outstanding ATAPI and SCSI CD-ROM Roundups!) has opened his arsenal up for testing. Though we've covered all the drives he possesses, an interesting opportunity has arisen in the case if his 20.4 gig Barracuda ATA. Our previous tests were conducted on the flagship ST328040, a drive that at the time of publication featured a specified seek time of 8.6 milliseconds. As low as that was, after we went to press, Seagate stated that they had revised the seek time down to a cool 8ms (though our own tests showed that the 'Cuda was hard pressed to meet even its original 8.6ms spec). The original 'Cuda ATA series, however, was one of those rare breeds that actually featured different specified seek times between models. Though the flagship 28 gig unit featured an 8ms seek, smaller members claimed an incredible 7.6 milliseconds... easily the lowest yet claimed for an ATA drive. When combined with the fact that the original 'Cuda ATA family had no representation in the new testbed Database, taking it out for a spin was a no-brainer.
The DTLA-307075 shares exactly the same specs as its smaller 45 gig brother, save only capacity. Both drives feature 7200rpm spindle speeds, 8.5 millisecond seek times, 15 gigs per platter, and a 2 megabyte buffer. The standout for the 75 gig model is, well, it's 75 gig capacity. Packing 5 platters into a single one-inch high profile, this 75GXP is currently the highest-capacity drive around, ATA or SCSI. It even edges out 1.6" high models such as the Cheetah 73 or Atlas 10k II 73. In 1999, it took the 5400rpm Deskstar 37GP to edge out the leading 36 gig SCSI drive... and this was in September, no less. In 1998, the Maxtor DiamondMax 4320 shipped in late October, its 17.2 gigs not even displacing the 18.2 gig maximum that SCSI had created. In 1997... there was no StorageReview.com, so it's irrelevant .
The ST320430A, also a 7200rpm drive, features three 6.8 gig platters yielding a capacity of 20.4 GB. Again, by far its most impressive spec is its claimed 7.6ms seek time. Even the drive's successor, the Barracuda ATA II, specifies a seek of 8.2ms. The 'Cuda ATA features a 512k buffer, a size that seems positively paltry these days.
Summarized: We're taking a look at the 75 gig 75GXP to maintain our policy of testing flagship drives whenever possible. The 20 gig 'Cuda, on the other hand, deserves a second look due to its impressive seek time. It's become clear that low access times are of paramount importance in scoring well in our IOMeter suites. Finally, we're simply curious how both drives stack up against the 45 gig 75GXP, a drive adept enough to seize our 7200rpm Leaderboard slot.
Let's take a look!