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Seagate Barracuda 180 ST1181677LWV
  April 26, 2001 Author: Eugene Ra  

Seagate Barracuda 180 ST1181677LWV Available Capacities *
Model Number
Capacity
ST1181677LWV
180 GB
* The benchmark scores presented in this review represent expected performance across the entire line.
Estimated Flagship Price: $2000 (180 GB)
Evaluation unit provided by Seagate Technology.


Introduction

As we've alluded to several times in the past, the industry is slowly but surely witnessing the sunset of the 7200 RPM SCSI drive. Seagate Technology now stands alone as the sole manufacturer of 7200 RPM SCSI units. Though 10k RPM drives now dominate mainstream server and workstation markets, Seagate feels there's niches that are still best served with venerable Barracuda technology.

One such niche is the market for massive capacity. Huge databases, data warehouses, etc require multi-terabyte arrays to effectively manage information. A large-capacity drive, even in a 1.6" high form factor, can yield long-term benefits in reliability and cost. Not so long ago one required hundreds of drives to create a magical TB array. With drives such as Seagate's new Barracuda 180, however, a fully redundant TB array requires only 12 drives.

The 'Cuda 180 is a 1.6" high drive that packs 15 gigs of data onto each of its 12 platters to yield its monstrous 180 gig capacity. Since maximal storage space with a minimum amount of heat and power consumption was the goal, Seagate's largest drive features a 7200 RPM spindle speed. At 7.4 milliseconds, the 180's specified seek time is on the high side for a contemporary SCSI drive. The drive features a rather large 16 megabyte buffer. A five year warranty protects the drive. While the unit reviewed here features a standard Ultra160 SCSI interface, as one may expect, the 'Cuda 180 is also available in SCA and Fibre Channel versions.

Let's turn to this behemoth's performance.


WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

WinBench 99's Disk/Read Transfer test pegs the Barracuda 180's outer-zone sequential transfer rate at 42.8 MB/sec, substantially higher than last-generation units such as the Barracuda 18XL or the Quantum Atlas V. An inner-zone score of 24.8 MB/sec completes an STR graph not unlike last year's 10,000 RPM units.

The 'Cuda 180's access time comes in at 12.1 milliseconds, virtually identical to the lower-spec'ed Barracuda 18XL. Subtracting 4.2 milliseconds of rotational latency yields a measured seek time of 7.9 ms... about half a millisecond off of specs. Though its not a bad score for a high-density, twelve-platter drive, 12ms can't quite match the speedy scores turned in by the Atlas V as well as just about any 10k RPM disk.


WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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The Barracuda 180's Business Disk WinMark score of 5.6 MB/sec improves on that turned in by the Cuda 18XL by a slight margin of 3%. Differences in the High-End WinMark, however, weigh in at a more substantial 12% with the 'Cuda 180's score of 16.6 MB/sec. Improvements aside, however, neither score is anything to write home about. Of course the 180 isn't targeted at the light-medium usage workstation market... the pattern WinBench 99 measures. So, let's turn to IOMeter to better measure the drive's performance under its intended use.


IOMeter Performance

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In the IOMeter Workstation Index (a normalized average of light, medium, and heavy loads), the Barracuda 180's score of 178.83 trails that of the Barracuda 18XL by about 8%. A similar difference arises in the File Server Index... in the Database index, however, the 180 trails by a smaller margin. We should note, however, that the 180's scores are very close to that turned in by Quantum's Atlas V, a 36 gig drive that delivered the largest capacity of its generation.


Conclusion

For such a large drive, the Barracuda 180's operating characteristics are tolerable. Idle noise, while noticeable, isn't particularly obtrusive. Seeks definitely churn away though. The drive operates hot to the touch after extended seeks in our compact testbed case. Make sure the drive's either installed in a well-ventilated case and/or is actively cooled.

In conclusion, the Barracuda 180 obviously isn't the drive of choice for a power-user looking for lots of mass storage. Per gigabyte it costs much more than a large IDE drive such as Maxtor's DiamondMax 80. For applications requiring massive amounts of protected data, however, the 'Cuda 180 is probably the only choice. It offers five times the storage capacity of previous-generation drives while matching their performance and is available in interfaces that allow flexible integration into a variety of setups.

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