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IBM Deskstar 60GXP IC35L060AVER07
  March 29, 2001 Author: Eugene Ra  

IBM Deskstar 60GXP IC35L060AVER07 Available Capacities *
Model Number
Capacity
IC35L060AVER07
60 GB
IC35L040AVER07
40 GB
IC35L030AVER07
30 GB
IC35L020AVER07
20 GB
IC35L010AVER07
10 GB
* The benchmark scores presented in this review represent expected performance across the entire line.
Estimated Flagship Price: $250 (60 GB)
Evaluation unit provided by Hyper Microsystems*

* Remember, mention StorageReview.com when ordering from HyperMicro and receive FREE shipping!


Introduction

When we first launched SR, IBM easily led the consumer drive density race with its (then massive) Deskstar 16GP. Poor Western Digital, on the other hand, delivered its Caviar AC8400 well after the competition hit similar density levels. Two years ago IBM and WD struck an agreement where the two companies shared technology. The result were drives such as the IBM Deskstar 22GXP and the Western Digital Expert AC418000. Units such as these featured nearly identical performance... and, as one would expect, hit the market at approximately the same time.

That brings us to today. It seems we've come full circle in three years. Last September, Western Digital surprised us with their release of the first 7200 RPM drive featuring 20 gig platters, the Caviar WD400BB. Since then, the industry has seen units from Maxtor (the DiamondMax Plus 60), Quantum (the Fireball Plus AS), Seagate (the Barracuda ATA III), and Fujitsu (the MPG-AT, not yet reviewed). IBM's entry, the Deskstar 60GXP, is just now hitting the channels a full seven months after WD's Caviar reached general availability. And though it shipped first, the Caviar WD400BB has managed to fend off all 20/GB platter challengers, remaining the only unit to offer performance superior to its predecessor in all ways. However, though it offers respectable performance, the WD400BB can't quite match IBM's Deskstar 75GXP in all-around performance. All eyes have thus been fixed on the 75GXP's successor. After all, if it can only equal the 75GXP's performance, it becomes the new 7200 RPM ATA drive of choice.

IBM's nomenclature is bound to catch a few people off guard. How can the numerically lower 60GXP be the successor to the 75GXP? The answer lies in flagship platter count. IBM, ever the bastion of incredible capacities derived from their unique 5 disk assembly, has finally bowed to the realities of the problems that arise when mating high densities with high platter counts. The result is a flagship unit that features a much more conventional three platters. This switch yields a new series that features less maximum capacity than the preceding line... three 20 GB disks results in a 60 gig max.

Seek time remains specified at a relatively peppy 8.5 milliseconds. The ATA standard 2 MB buffer (first introduced by IBM in its 22GXP) rounds out the drive. IBM positions the 60GXP not only as a solution for desktops but also for entry-level server configurations. Expect this to become more common as 7200 RPM SCSI drives are phased out. A three-year warranty backs the drive.

The 60GXP ships exclusively with an ATA-100 interface. Remember, since ATA drives have yet to break sequential transfer rates greater than even 45 MB/sec that ATA-66 (and in many cases, even ATA-33) interfaces will run a drive with optimal performance. Our testbed remains equipped with a Promise Ultra66 controller.

Now let's see how much, if at all, this new unit improves on the 75GXP!


WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

WinBench 99's Disk Acccess test clocks the 60GXP's access time at 12.3 milliseconds, nearly identical to that of the three-platter Deskstar 75GXP. The result is a measured seek time of just 8.1 milliseconds, beating the specs by a comfortable margin... something that's too rare these days.

WB99's measures the outer-zone transfer rate of the 60GXP at 39 MB/sec. A quick look at the drive's STR graph, however, reveals an unusually jagged pattern in first couple zones. STR eventually levels out, although never quite in the ruler-straight pattern that we've seen in many drives. Taking this choppy formation into account, it would be safe to say that the drives achieves a minimum STR of 38 MB/sec in its outermost zone... a figure almost identical to the 75GXP. Inner-zone rates do show noticeable improvement, with the 60GXP's score of 21.3 MB/sec leading the 75GXP by 8%.


WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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The 60GXP's Business Disk WinMark 99 score of 7.72 MB/sec places it a wee bit ahead of the 75GXP... a margin of less than 1%. The unit's High-End Disk WinMark score of 20.7 MB/sec leads the 75GXP's score by 7%... significant, but still rather close.

Fierce competition awaits these marks. Western Digital's Caviar WD400BB, for example, beats the 60GXP's BDWM score by 9%. The 60GXP's High-End unit manages to set a record-high for an ATA drive, though it edges out the WD400BB by just 4%.


IOMeter Performance

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The 60GXP again turns in scores quite similar to its predecessor in the SR IOMeter Indices (a normalized average of results obtained under light, medium, and heavy loads). In the File Server and Database Indices, the 60GXP edges out the 75GXP by 1%-2%. In the closely-watched Workstation Index, however, the two drives turn in identical scores... differences are well under 0.5%.

It should be noted that the 60GXP's Workstation Index score of 166.59 soundly defeats second-place Western Digital's Caviar WD400BB by a margin of 11%. For an ugly picture, contrast the 60GXP with the Seagate Barracuda ATA III... the former bests the latter by a staggering 32%.


Conclusion

The Deskstar series of drives can no longer claim to be among the quietest drives around. Offerings from Maxtor and Western Digital are distinctly quieter when seeking... as should be expected, given the competitions higher access times. After two hours of fully random seeks in our fairly cramped testbed, the 60GXP was quite warm but not hot to the touch. It should work in most systems without the use of active cooling.

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. In the end, IBM's Deskstar 60GXP delivers eerily similar performance to that of its predecessor. This may to many be a disappointment. In this day and age, however, simple maintenance of performance is welcomed. The 75GXP, after all, managed to fend off all comers and retain its long-standing StorageReview.com leaderboard slot. The 60GXP stands poised to take its place.

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