Earlier this year, drive-giant Seagate Technology shipped the Cheetah 36XL, something of a "refresh" of its previous low-profile 36 gig drive, the Cheetah 36LP. Though the 36XL features improved areal density, it doesn't really raise the bar when it came to increasing the amount of data one could pack in a low-profile SCSI unit. As a result, we regard the 36XL as more of an interim, "between-the-generations" product. This isn't to say that the drive doesn't deliver competent performance; indeed, after its review, the 36XL ascended into our 10k RPM Leaderboard slot. However, we're quickly approaching the summer period, a season that traditionally marks the appearance of next-generation SCSI units. The first has finally appeared in our labs, from none other than Seagate themselves.
The 10,000 RPM Cheetah 73LP packs 73 gigs of data into a standard low-profile chassis. While nothing new in the ATA arena (the IBM Deskstar 75GXP appeared in channels a year ago), this is a first for a SCSI drive. The 73LP utilizes just four platters, storing 18 gigs each, to achieve its flagship capacity. 73 gigs, in fact, is the 73LP's only capacity point. Though they originally planned to offer a 36 gig version as well, it seems Seagate rethought its strategy and is now content to target the 36XL and the yet-to-be-shipped value-class Cheetah 36ES at these lower rungs.
This newest Cheetah is Seagate's first 10,000 RPM drive that features a specified seek time under 5 milliseconds. Indeed, ever since the second-generation Cheetah 9LP, the family's seek time has stagnated at 5.2 milliseconds. In fact, the 36XL's shipment marked a slight rise in specified (though not measured) seek times, weighing in at 5.4 ms. We're happy to see that the 73LP, though, breaks the barrier and claims a 4.9 ms seek. Buffer size remains a fairly utilitarian size of 4 megs.
An enterprise-class 5-year warranty backs the Cheetah 73LP. Seagate aims the 73LP at the high-end workstation market where capacities greater than that delivered by 15k RPM disks are needed. The 73LP further targets those server markets that require capacity combined with the highest performance available in tried-and-true 10k RPM technology. The drive will be available in Ultra160 LVD, SCA, and FC-AL interfaces.