by eugene

Hitachi Travelstar 7K200


Hitachi Travelstar 7K200
Model Number Capacity
HTS722080K9A00 80 GB
HTS722010K9A00 100 GB
HTS722012K9A00 120 GB
HTS722016K9A00 160 GB
HTS722020K9A00 200 GB
Lowest Real-Time Price (200 GB):

In our initial roundup of 2.5" notebook drives, the parallel ATA Travelstar 7K100 vied with and generally topped the Seagate Momentus 7200.1 when it came to best-of-breed performance-oriented notebook drives. Since then, the industry has progressed along the path from the ATA-100 style parallel interface to the same SATA interface enjoyed by today's newer desktop systems. Seagate's latest SATA offering, the 160-gigabyte Momentus 7200.2, raised the bar for 2.5" drive performance. Hitachi, of course, has not stood still. In this review, we will turn our attention to the manufacturer's latest flagship, the Travelstar 7K200.

Top of the driveThe 7K200 leverages continuing refinements in perpendicular magnetic recording techniques to pack 200 gigabytes of data across just two diminutive platters. Also significant is the Travelstar's 16-megabyte buffer, one that doubles that found on many of today's notebook drives. Hitachi specs the drive's seek time at 10 milliseconds.

Reflecting the continued migration to a unified standard across desktop and notebook machines, the Travelstar 7K200 is only available equipped with a SATA interface. Models featuring both 3.0 Gb/sec and 1.5 GB/sec interfaces are available.

The tests that follow compare the Travelstar 7K200 (equipped with a 1.5 GB/sec SATA interface) against the following drives:

Hitachi Travelstar 5K160 (160 GB) Manufacturer's 5400 RPM offering
Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 (100 GB) Predecessor to the review drive
Seagate Momentus 5400.3 (160 GB) Competing 5400 RPM unit
Seagate Momentus 7200.2 (160 GB) Competing 7200 RPM unit
WD Scorpio WD2500BEVS (250 GB) Competing 5400 RPM unit





Access Time and Transfer Rate

For diagnostic purposes only, StorageReview measures the following low-level parameters:

Average Read Access Time- An average of 25,000 random read accesses of a single sector each conducted through IPEAK SPT's AnalyzeDisk suite. The high sample size permits a much more accurate reading than most typical benchmarks deliver and provides an excellent figure with which one may contrast the claimed access time (claimed seek time + the drive spindle speed's average rotational latency) provided by manufacturers.

Average Write Access Time- An average of 25,000 random write accesses of a single sector each conducted through IPEAK SPT's AnalyzeDisk suite. The high sample size permits a much more accurate reading than most typical benchmarks deliver. Due to differences in read and write head technology, seeks involving writes generally take more time than read accesses.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - Begin- The sequential transfer rate attained by the outermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the highest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - End- The sequential transfer rate attained by the innermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the lowest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

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The Travelstar 7K200's access time measures in at 14.1 milliseconds (ms) and narrowly bests Seagate's 7200 RPM Momentus. Accounting for the 4.2 ms of latency associated with a 7200 RPM spindle speed leaves the 7K200 with a measured access time of 9.9 ms... the drive meets its 10 ms claim. At 14.2 ms, write accesses are similarly swift.

With a 71.5 MB/sec transfer rate in its outer zone, the Travelstar sets a new record when it comes to notebook-oriented drives through building a full 10 MB/sec lead over the second-place Momentus 7200.2. Rates decay down to a low of 40 MB/sec on the innermost tracks, again a record showing.

Some Perspective

It is important to remember that access time and transfer rate measurements are mostly diagnostic in nature and not really measurements of "performance" per se. Assessing these two specs is quite similar to running a processor "benchmark" that confirms "yes, this processor really runs at 2.4 GHz and really does feature a 400 MHz FSB." Many additional factors combine to yield aggregate high-level hard disk performance above and beyond these two easily measured yet largely irrelevant metrics. In the end, drives, like all other PC components, should be evaluated via application-level performance. Over the next few pages, this is exactly what we will do. Read on!





Single-User Performance

StorageReview uses the following tests to assess non-server use:

StorageReview.com Office DriveMark 2006- A capture of VeriTest's Business Winstone 2004 suite. Applications include Microsoft's Office XP (Word, Excel, Access, Outlook, and Project), Internet Explorer 6.0, Symantec Antivirus 2002 and Winzip 9.0 executed in a lightly-multitasked manner.

StorageReview.com High-End DriveMark 2006- A capture of VeriTest's Multimedia Content Creation Winstone 2004 suite. Applications include Adobe Photoshop v7.01, Adobe Premiere v6.5, Macromedia Director MX v9.0, Macromedia Dreamweaver MX v6.1, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0, Newtek Lightwave 3D 7.5b, and Steinberg Wavelab 4.0f run in a lightly-multitasked manner.

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Hitachi's star truly flexes its muscles in the StorageReview Office DriveMark with a score of 610 IOs per second (IOps). Such a showing blows past previous leaders such as the 5400 RPM Scorpio and 7200 RPM Momentus by an impressive 30% margin.

The 7K200's performance remains similarly breathtaking as we move to SR's High-End DriveMark. At 541 IOps, the Travelstar trumps the Momentus 7200.2 by 27%.




Gaming Performance

Three decidedly different entertainment titles cover gaming performance in StorageReview's test suite.

FarCry, a first-person shooter, remains infamous for its lengthy map loads when switching levels.

The Sims 2, though often referred to as a "people simulator," is in its heart a strategy game and spends considerable time accessing the disk when loading houses and lots.

Finally, World of Warcraft represents the testbed's role-playing entry; it issues disk accesses when switching continents/dungeons as well as when loading new textures into RAM on the fly.

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Building on the speed delivered by its predecessor, the Travelstar 7K200 handles the transition from productivity and content creation to games with gusto. Its 588 IOps in our FarCry replay again places the drive in a league of its own.

Little changes in SR's recreation of The Sims 2's disc access. The Travelstar's 649 IOps elevates it decisively above the competition.

Finally, the 7K200 wows in WoW. Hitachi's gem completes its amazing sweep of all our single-user tests by virtually doubling the Momentus 7200.2's anemic showing.





Multi-User Performance

Unlike single-user machines (whether a desktop or workstation), servers undergo highly random, non-localized access. StorageReview simulates these multi-user loads using IOMeter. The IOMeter File Server pattern balances a majority of reads and minority of writes spanning requests of varying sizes.

IOMeter also facilitates user-configurable load levels by maintaining queue levels (outstanding I/Os) of a specified depth. Our tests start with the File Server pattern with a depth of 1 and double continuously until depth reaches 128 outstanding I/Os.

Drives with any sort of command queuing abilities will always be tested with such features enabled. Unlike single-user patterns, multi-user loads always benefit when requests are reordered for more efficient retrieval.

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The older Travelstar 7K100 mimicked the showing of Hitachi's desktop-oriented Deskstar series of drives in combining leading single-user performance with decidedly average multi-user scores. Well-designed 5400 RPM units such as the WD Scorpio were easily able to top the 7200 RPM 7K100.

With the 7K200, Hitachi finally raises its game when it comes to random concurrent access. Though it does not quite catch Seagate's Momentus 7200.2 at higher concurrency levels, the 7K200 delivers performance closer to expectations in IOMeter's file-server simulation.





Noise and Power Measurements

Idle Noise- The sound pressure emitted from a drive measured at a distance of 3 millimeters. The close-field measurement allows for increased resolution between drive sound pressures and eliminates interactions from outside environmental noise. Note that while the measurement is an A-weighted decibel score that weighs frequencies in proportion to human ear sensitivity, a low score does not necessarily predict whether or not a drive will exhibit a high-pitch whine that some may find intrusive. Conversely, a high score does not necessarily indicate that the drive exhibits an intrusive noise profile.

Operating Power Dissipation- The power consumed by a drive, measured both while idle and when performing fully random seeks. In the relatively closed environment of a computer case, power dissipation correlates highly with drive temperature. The greater a drive's power draw, the more significant its effect on the chassis' internal temperature.

Startup (Peak) Power Dissipation- The maximum power dissipated by a drive upon initial spin-up. This figure is relevant when a system features a large number of drives. Though most controllers feature logic that can stagger the spin-up of individual drives, peak power dissipation may nonetheless be of concern in very large arrays or in cases where a staggered start is not feasible. Generally speaking, drives hit peak power draw at different times on the 5V and 12V rails. The 12V peak usually occurs in the midst of initial spin-up. The 5V rail, however, usually hits maximum upon actuator initialization.

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Objective measurements peg the Travelstar 7K200's sound pressure at 1.5 dB/A higher than that of the 7K100. Even so, however, subjectively speaking, the 7K200's idle noise remains on par with that of the 7K100 with a quiet, unobtrusive profile that exhibits no annoying mid- or high-band squeals.

When seeking, the drive's actuator is just slightly audible over the ambient noise of a typical quiet home office, perhaps just loud enough to let a user know it is doing its job.

Performing under a full load, the 7K200 draws the same amount of power as the 7K100 -- 3 watts, a figure admittedly on the higher side when contrasted with the typical dissipation of other units. When idle, the 7K200 consumes 1.1 watts, a full 60% more than its economical predecessor.

Upon spinning up from a cold start, the 200-gig Travelstar draws 4.5 watts, turning in a score that lands the drive in the middle of the pack.





Reliability

The StorageReview.com Reliability Survey aims to amalgamate individual reader experiences with various hard disks into a comprehensive warehouse of information from which meaningful results may be extracted. A multiple-layer filter sifts through collected data, silently omitting questionable results or results from questionable participants. A proprietary analysis engine then processes the qualified dataset. SR presents results to readers through a percentile ranking system.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, the Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, a predecessor of the Hitachi Travelstar 7K200, the Hitachi Travelstar 7K100 , is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

Note that the percentages in bold above may change as more information continues to be collected and analyzed. For more information, to input your experience with these and/or other drives, and to view comprehensive results, please visit the SR Drive Reliability Survey.





Conclusion

As we have come to expect from Hitachi, the firm's latest notebook drive ups the ante when it comes to bleeding edge speed. Improvements that average 25% over the older 7K100 leave the Travelstar 7K200 at lofty heights never before reached by a notebook drive when it comes to both productivity applications and entertainment titles.

Much of the increase extends to server performance, traditionally a weak spot for Hitachi's SATA drives. While hardly the primary market for a 2.5" SATA unit, when applied to setups such as light-duty blade servers, the Travelstar finally provides multi-user performance on par with that of the high-end competition.

That said, the story remains the drive's single-user performance. In the end, the Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 blows away the competition by margins seldom seen in the hard drive world. Though it does not come cheaply, the Travelstar's showing is so superior to that of any other drive's that it stands as the only choice for those striving to attain true desktop-level performance from a portable system.

  Review Discussion