A little more than a year ago, shortly after StorageReview.com's inception, we received boatloads of e-mail requesting a review of IBM's newcomer, the Ultrastar 9ES. Even before our launch, it had garnered a reputation as a speedy drive combined with quiet operation and cool temperatures. When it finally entered the SR testbed, the drive lived up to its billing, delivering competent performance with pleasing aesthetics. Though the drive was edged out in performance by the Quantum Viking II, the Ultrastar 9ES was nonetheless a drive we could heartily recommend to a user searching for a great entry-level SCSI disk.
At the beginning of the year, Western Digital surprised the industry (well, they surprised us, at least) by being the first to hit the streets with a next-generation SCSI drive. Our look at the drive, now over two months old, proved that the new WD did indeed outperform the previous crop of disks- as it should have. For the first month or so, WD's Enterprise had no competition. Eventually, however, models from competing manufacturers finally started to hit the street. The first is the successor to the crowd-pleasing 9ES, the IBM Ultrastar 18ES.
Last year, IBM's drive lineup targeted three distinct markets: the Ultrastar 9ES addressed the entry-level SCSI market, the Ultrastar 9LP aimed at the enterprise-class server market, and the Ultrastar 9ZX wooed the top-performance 10k rpm market. This year however, an "Ultrastar 18LP" is conspicuously missing from the lineup. With only the screaming Ultrastar 18ZX to complement it, the 18ES seems to be left as Big Blue's entry in both the entry-level and enterprise-class markets.
The 18ES achieves its 18.2 gigabyte capacity using a full platter less than the Western Digital Enterprise WDE18300, weighing in at 3.6 gigs/platter. The drive's seek time is listed at a swift 7.0 milliseconds. Spindle-speed, of course, remains at a tried-and-true 7200rpm. A 2 megabyte buffer, seemingly standard for today's SCSI drives, rounds out the package. The drive is backed by an industry-standard 5-year warranty.
Unlike many other Ultrastar drives, the 18ES ships with write-caching enabled. Thus, the drive proved to be a quite straightforward installation into our Adaptec 2940U2W-equipped testbed. Let's take a look at some test results: