Of the myriad of new SCSI and ATA drives just becoming available, the Storage Review has received more requests for a test and review of the IBM Ultrastar 9ES than any other hard drive. The 9ES promises much: A relatively low price for a UW SCSI drive, 9.1 gigs of storage space, cool & quiet operation, and last but certainly not least, good performance.
The 9ES uses 5 high-density (high for a SCSI drive, that is) 1.8 gig platters to provide its 9GB of capacity. The drive features a 7.5ms average seek time, 512k buffer, and, unlike the previous Ultrastar 2ES covered in the Storage Review's 4.5GB Ultra SCSI drive roundup, a 7200 rpm spindle speed. The drive is currently available in an Ultra SCSI interface with an Ultra2 version promised in the near future. The Ultra SCSI DDRS-39130 version was tested in this review.
The Ultrastar 9ES (along with the company's upcoming UltraATA monsters, the Deskstar 16GP and 14GXP) debuts IBM's "TrueTrack Servo Technology." At high spindle speeds and high bit densities, the challenge of keeping a drive's read-write heads aligned with the appropriate track becomes ever greater due to increasing vibration. IBM uses the TrueTrack technology, a signal feedback design, as a way to keep costs down by eschewing more traditional chassis redesign and reinforcement.
Low power dissipation is another touted advantage of the 9ES. IBM achieves a low idle power specification of only 7.1 watts (as opposed to, say, the Seagate Barracuda 9LP's specified idle power rating of 10 watts) "through efficient electronic design and a new integrated LSI chip." This should translate to cool operation, always a plus in any high-spindle-speed drive.
The drive tested in this review was an OEM version obtained through a major mail-order source. As is par for SCSI drives, the IBM included no cabling or mounting rails. The two previously tested IBM Ultrastar drives both included robust, multilingual manuals. The 9ES, did not, however, with a simple vendor-created photocopy instructing how to change termination and SCSI ID settings.
ZDBop's Winbench 98 along with Adaptec's Threadmark 2.0 were both run on the unit in Windows 95 OSR 2.1 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0. The drive was partitioned into a single volume of maximum size. The average of 5 trials is presented below.