by Brian Beeler

Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB Review

Seagate has launched the latest update to their high-performance desktop 3.5" HDD line in the BarraCuda Pro family. Now available in capacities up to 12TB, the BarraCuda Pro is designed to meet the needs of professionals who want the high capacity that 3.5" hard drives offer, with as much performance as possible. To that end, the BarraCuda Pro features a 7,200 RPM spindle speed with 256MB cache, offering up to 250MB/s in sustained sequential transfer rates. Incidentally, 250MB/s is 30MB/s faster than the prior top capacity 10TB Pro drive. Seagate is also making sure they take care of their BarraCuda Pro owners with a five-year warranty and two years of Seagate Rescue data recovery included. 

While bigger isn’t necessarily better in terms of raw capacity in the digital storage game, more capacity is becoming an asset as files grow larger and more complex. For certain users, moving larger files, or older ones, off to the cloud isn’t an option. Seagate’s latest BarraCuda Pro HDD, part of its Guardian Series, has upped the ante in the HDD “capacity wars” by hitting a 12TB capacity point that is shipping as of today. This drive would be ideal for the creative professional dealing with massive files, direct attached storage, and home servers.

The Seagate BarraCuda Pro line includes 2TB, 4TB, 6TB, 8TB, 10TB and 12TB capacities. This review is of a single 12TB (8 platters) capacity hard drive, which can be picked up for $530. 

Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB Specifications

  • Model Numbers: ST12000DM0007
  • Bytes per Sector: 512
  • Interface: SATA 6Gb/s
  • Max. Sustained Transfer Rate: 250MB/s
  • Cache: 256MB
  • Platter Configuration: Eight platters, Areal density 923 Gb/in2 avg.
  • Load/Unload Cycles: 300,000
  • Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read Max: 1 per 10E15
  • Power-On Hours per Year (24×7): 8760
  • Workload Rate Limit (TB/year): 300
  • Limited Warranty (years): 5
  • Startup Power (A): 1.8
  • Operating Mode, Typical (W): 7.8
  • Idle Average (W): 5.0
  • Standby Mode/Sleep Mode, Typical (W): 0.80
  • Operating (ambient, min): 0°C
  • Operating (drive case, max): 60°C
  • Nonoperating (ambient): - 40°C – 70°C
  • Halogen Free: Yes
  • RoHS Compliance: Yes
  • Height: 26.11mm
  • Width: 101.85mm
  • Depth: 146.99mm
  • Weight: 705g

Consumer Synthetic Benchmarks

All consumer HDD benchmarks are currently conducted with the StorageReview HP Z640 Workstation. We compared The BarraCuda Pro 12TB with the following drives:

All IOMeter figures are represented as binary figures for MB/s speeds. For hybrid drives, the synthetic tests only capture spindle speeds, ignoring the caching technology that would be more evident in repetitive tasks, like the application testing further down. 

Our first test measures 2MB sequential performance. Here, the BarraCuda beat all the other drives with a read score of 258.77MB/s and a write score of 258.64MB/s.

Next we look at random 2MB performance where the BarraCuda 12TB once again beat out the other drives with 80.81MB/s read and 125.6MB/s write.

When switching to smaller 4K random transfers, the 12TB drives slipped to third in reads and fourth in writes with 0.271MB/s read and 0.843MB/s write. The drive fell behind both WD Black drives.

Looking at the IOPS for the same test, the 12TB drive unsurprisingly gave the same placement with a read performance of 69.48 IOPS and a write performance of 215.77 IOPS.

When looking at 4K write latency (both the average and maximum readings), the 12TB drive was only bested by the slightly smaller 10TB version, with an average latency of 4.6ms and a max latency of only 58.45ms.

Our last series of synthetic benchmarks compare the hard drives in a series of server mixed-workloads with a queue depth ranging from 1 to 128. Each of our server profile tests has a strong preference towards read activity, ranging from 67% read with our database profile to 100% read in our web server profile.

The first is our database profile, which uses a 67% read and 33% write workload mix primarily centered on 8K transfer sizes. While the Seagate BarraCuda 12TB gave a strong performance throughout (ranging from 86.67 IOPS to a peak of 182.85 IOPS) it came in second to the WD Black 6TB. The 12TB drive did beat out its 10TB counterpart.

Our web server profile is read-only with a spread of transfer sizes from 512-byte to 512KB. Here, we see very similar placement with the 12TB running strong, but falling to second behind the WD Black 6TB. The 12TB ran from 69.23 IOPS to a peak of 165.07 IOPS.

The next profile looks at a file server, with an 80% read and 20% write workload spread out over multiple transfer sizes, ranging from 512-byte to 64KB. The 12TB Seagate drive trailed behind the 6TB WD Black throughout most of the benchmark only to pull to the top of the pack at the end with 165.07 IOPS.

Our last profile looks at workstation activity, which is comprised of a 20% write and 80% read mixture using 8K transfers. Here, the 12TB drive gave its weakest performance (compared to the top performer); however, it still landed in second place with scores ranging from 92.91 IOPS to a peak of 183.66 IOPS.

Consumer Real-World Benchmarks

For the average consumer, trying to translate random 4K write speeds into an everyday situation is pretty difficult. It helps when comparing drives in every setting possible, but it doesn't exactly work out into faster everyday usage or better game loading times. For this reason, we turned to our StorageMark 2010 traces, which include HTPC and Gaming traces to help readers find out how a drive might rank under these conditions.

The first real-life test is our HTPC scenario. In this test we include: playing one 720P HD movie in Media Player Classic, one 480P SD movie playing in VLC, three movies downloading simultaneously through iTunes, and one 1080i HDTV stream being recorded through Windows Media Center over a 15-minute period. Higher IOPS and MB/s rates with lower latency times are preferred. In this trace, we recorded 2,986MB being written to the drive and 1,924MB being read.

In our HTPC profile, the Seagate BarraCuda 12TB was the best performing overall with 140.02MB/s, 1,886 IOPS, and a latency of 4.1ms.

Our second real-life test covers disk activity in a gaming environment. Unlike the HTPC trace, this one relies heavily on the read performance of a drive. To give a simple breakdown of read/write percentages, the HTPC test is 64% write and 36% read, the Productivity test is 59% write and 41% read, while the gaming trace is 6% write and 94% read. The test consists of a Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit system pre-configured with Steam, with Grand Theft Auto 4, Left 4 Dead 2, and Mass Effect 2 already downloaded and installed. The trace captures the heavy read activity of each game loading from the start, as well as textures as the game progresses. In this trace, we recorded 426MB being written to the drive and 7,235MB being read.

In our read-intensive Gaming trace, the 12TB fell into third place across the board with 63.69MB/s, 1,183 IOPS, and a latency of 6.7ms.

Conclusion

Seagate has continued to expand its Guardian Series with higher capacity drives, such as the 12TB BarraCuda Pro. The new BarraCuda Pro delivers the highest capacity desktop drive, while still aiming to deliver high performance. The drive is a 3.5” form factor, SATA drive with 7,200RPM spindle speed and a 256MB cache. The HDD is ideal for users who need lots of capacity, but don’t want to keep adding drives.

Looking at performance, the 12TB BarraCuda Pro started our series of benchmarks off strong, taking the top spots in our 2MB IOMeter tests with 258.77MB/s read and 258.64MB/s write in sequential and 80.81MB/s read and 125.6MB/s write in random. In the smaller 4K benchmarks, the drive was able to pull off third place in reads and fourth in writes and second in latency. In our server mixed-workload benchmarks, the 12TB drive came in first place in the File Server benchmark and second in the other three (it should be noted that while it was second in overall performance, it did have twice the capacity of the drive that beat it in the benchmarks, the WD Black 6TB). In our real-world consumer benchmarks, the 12TB drive came in first in our HTPC disk capture with 140.02MB/s, 1,886 IOPS, and a latency of 4.1ms. However, the 12TB HDD hit third in the gaming trace with 63.69MB/s, 1,183 IOPS, and a latency of 6.7ms, coming in behind the SSHD offerings.

Overall, the 12TB BarraCuda Pro does well to continue to bolster the viability of high capacity hard drives for professional/prosumer use. With a five-year warranty and the bonus two-year data recovery coverage, Seagate has done well to assert themselves as the head of the class in this market segment.

Pros

  • Highest capacity desktop drive
  • Strong 2MB IOMeter performance
  • Strong HTPC and Gaming performance compared to other non-hybrid HDDs

The Bottom Line

The Seagate 12TB BarraCuda Pro puts lots of capacity in its 3.5” footprint, along with enough performance, to make it a worthy upgrade for creative professionals who need more on-site space. 

Seagate BarraCuda Pro at Amazon

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