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Fujitsu MAJ3xxx MAJ3182LP
  July 20, 2000 Author: Eugene Ra  

Introduction

As we outlined in our recent MPF3xxxAH review, it's extremely difficult for us at StorageReview.com to get our hands on drives from Fujitsu, a company we consider one of the "big six" consumer drive companies. Fortunately, we managed to get our hands on a sample of Fujitsu's latest in the ATA sector to complete our look at contemporary 7200rpm ATA drives from all major manufacturers. We're pleased to report that we've also obtained Fujitsu's latest 10k RPM unit, the MAJ3xxx.

The specs accompanying the MAJ3xxx are impressive. The drive manages to pack 7.3 gigs of data on a single platter, matching the areal density found on Quantum's Atlas 10k II and exceeding the densities of the IBM Ultrastar 36LZX and Seagate Cheetah 36LP. As a result, Fujitsu requires just 5 platters to achieve the flagship capacity of 36.4 gigs. The review sample tested here is an 18 gigabyte model; as usual, however, one can expect the performance differences between the 18 and 36 gig versions to be minimal.

The unit's seek time is specified at an impressive 4.7 milliseconds, again matching the Atlas 10k II while transcending offerings from IBM and Seagate. A 4-megabyte buffer, standard for today's 10k RPM units, rounds out the package. As one would expect, the drive is protected by an enterprise-class 5-year warranty.

Let's see how these impressive specifications add up with our battery of tests!

WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

When it comes to access times, the MAJ turns in a score of 8.5 milliseconds. Though such a figure matches the speed of the IBM Ultrastar 36LZX and comes in half a millisecond ahead of the Seagate Cheetah 36LP, it nevertheless indicates a seek time that's a bit higher than the specs claim... more around the neighborhood of 5.0 to 5.5 ms rather than the svelte 4.7 proffered by Fujitsu. As a result, the Quantum Atlas 10k II soundly defeats the MAJ with a access time of just 7.9 ms.

When it comes to sequential transfer rates, however, the MAJ narrowly edges out the Atlas 10k II (and even Seagate's 15,000 RPM Cheetah X15) with an outer-zone score of nearly 43 MB/sec. It's inner-zone figure, exceeding 28 MB/sec, is substantially faster than Quantum's drive, which peters out at 25 MB/sec.

WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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The untouchable Quantum Atlas 10k II remains out of reach for this newest contender in WinBench 99. The MAJ's score of about 6.6 MB/sec in the WinBench 99Business Disk WinMark trails that of the Atlas 10k II by a margin approaching 25%. Though the gap narrows in the WinBench 99High-End Winmark, the MAJ nonetheless continues to lag by almost 13%.

We should take the time to point out that given these figures, the MAJ would compare unfavorably to, say, today's swiftest ATA drive, the IBM Deskstar 75GXP. In such a comparison, the 10K SCSI MAJ lags behind the Deskstar by 14% in the Business Disk WinMark. In the High-End, the Fujitsu manages to slide by the IBM by 4%... certainly a slim victory for a drive that sports a transfer rate 15% to 44% faster and a seek time fully 45% faster than the other unit. What's the conclusion? That the MAJ is a slow drive, not able to match a 7200 RPM ATA disk? Certainly not. Under such criteria, the Cheetah 36LP or even IBM's own Ultrastar 36LZX would fail to set themselves apart from the best of ATA. Rather, the situation once again illustrates that WinBench 99 is well past its prime when it comes to disk performance measurement. Come on ZD, let's get a new version out that'll defeat the tweaks that have crept into the firmware of modern drives.

In the mean time, however, we have another tool that gives us a much better picture of relative drive performance: IOMeter.

IOMeter Performance

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When it comes to Workstation performance as measured by Intel's IOMeter, the Fujitsu MAJ shines. Even in a linear load (where access time's role is greatest), the MAJ manages to edge out the Quantum Atlas 10k II by a margin of 3%. This gap only increases as the load gets heavier... all the way up to nearly 17% under a heavy load. Quite a significant difference in a significant benchmark!

The MAJ's IOMeter Workstation performance is so good, in fact, that it manages to edge out the IBM Ultrastar 36LZX in most loads to lay its claim as the fastest 10k RPM drive around for workstation usage. Not bad at all.

Conclusion

Fujitsu's drives have always received high marks for quiet operation. The 10k RPM MAJ is no exception. There's little detectable idle noise over our testbed's PC Power & Cooling Silencer power supply. Seeks are quite muted- softer than the commendable Seagate Cheetah 36LP... in fact, it approaches the noise floor of today's 7200rpm ATA drives such as the Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 40. Running the drive outside of a cooler (with the bay immediately above kept open) results in warm but not hot operation. The story may be different with the 36 gig version of the drive, however.

-- The StorageReview.com Safe Buy Award --

Simply put, this designation means we'd purchase this product without regret. Sure, there may be a slightly better, slightly faster, and/or slightly less-expensive model from a competitor, but you can't go wrong with this particular unit. This award is applicable, of course, to all units at the top of their class, but also applies to units that, though not quite best-of-class, provide a strong showing nonetheless. Overall, the Fujitsu MAJ3xxx is a surprisingly speedy performer from a company that admittedly has not fared well on performance tests over the course of SR's two-year history. Despite its (mostly irrelevant) low WinBench 99 scores, the MAJ turns in the highest scores of any 10k RPM disk in the far more important IOMeter Workstation Suite. Combine such stellar performance with pleasing environmental factors and you come up with a winner. Our only caveat is the drive's scarce availability. As we've remarked before, Fujitsu's penetration into the American retail market is downright poor. Those who find themselves wanting the MAJ may have to settle for the competition simply because they can't find the drive. If you can, however, and are considering SCSI for your workstation, the MAJ is second to none.

Fujitsu MAJ3182LP
Estimated Price: $874
Also Available: MAJ3364 (36.4 GB); MAJ3091 (9.1 GB)
Specifications
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