As veteran readers of StorageReview.com know, we consider there to be six major manufacturers of ATA drives in today's market. Maxtor, Western Digital, Quantum, Seagate, and IBM readily come to mind for most users. The sixth, Fujitsu, doesn't enjoy quite the same name recognition as the others. We can only speculate about reasons. Perhaps it's a result of relatively few resellers stocking the Japanese conglomerate's units. Or maybe it springs from the difficulty that StorageReview.com has in obtaining evaluation units. Reviews in the hardware enthusiast world do wonders for product recognition. Who knows?
What we do know is that we've had difficulties obtaining Fujitsu's drives for evaluation. For the most part, we've had to resort to kind offers of evaluation samples from sponsors that happened to stock the drive. Last summer, however, we managed to establish relations with Fujitsu Computer Products of America, and were able to deliver somewhat timely reviews on their full spectrum of desktop-class and enterprise-class drives. Unfortunately, for one reason or another, the relationship soured since: FCPA is no longer willing to submit drives for review. Performance issues aside, cutting off samples offered to reviewers seems like one of the worst things a manufacturer can do. Whether a performance leader or not, manufacturers have vested interest in gaining recognition in any market. Excluding products from evaluation excludes them from the limelight. Further exacerbating the problem for Fujitsu is the paucity of dealers carrying products. We've searched many places to outright purchase a unit for evaluation to maintain our comprehensive database. They're all but impossible to find. Yes, this protects a product that may or may not perform up to the competition, but isn't the goal to sell the product to users?
Ah, but enough of the soapbox. We've finally managed to get our hands on the sixth and final current-generation 7200 RPM ATA drive, the Fujitsu MPF3xxxAH. Our particular evaluation sample features only one 10.2 gig platter, yielding a capacity of... you guessed it, 10.2 gigs. In this case, beggars can't be choosers. We'd like to sincerely thank the source of the drive, an individual who wishes to remain anonymous.
Announced just a tad later than similar drives from the competition, the MPF-AH nevertheless brings some impressive specs and innovations to the table. As mentioned before, this Fujitsu is a current-generation 7200 RPM drive, packing 10.2 gigs per platter. Fujitsu has joined Quantum, Seagate, and IBM in specifying a seek time less than the "nine millisecond barrier" that's been with us since SR's inception. The MPF-AH features an 8.5ms seek time. A two-megabyte buffer, standard across all six manufacturers, rounds out Fujitsu's offering.
We've noticed over the years that Fujitsu's drives are always among the quietest around. Last year's MPD series, for example, achieved noise floors that are only just now being reached by the competition as the "quiet drive" propaganda flies. For its part, Fujitsu strives to hit ever-lower noise levels. They've debuted fluid bearing motors in their MPF series. First introduced by Seagate in its 7200 RPM Medalist Pro, fluid bearings rapidly faded away as problems surfaced from the heat caused by leaked fluid. Hopefully Fujitsu's implementation is more reliable and won't suffer the same fate. Theoretically, fluid bearings increases reliability by dampening the force felt in the spindle shaft upon accidental impact of the drive. A three-year warranty protects the drive.
Let's see how Fujitsu's latest stacks up to the competition!