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Fujitsu MAH3xxx MAH3182LP
  September 27, 2000 Author: Eugene Ra  


Fujitsu's recent MAJ3xxx was somewhat of a surprise to us. Though we expected the Japanese manufacturer's latest 10k RPM offering to deliver decent performance, we never expected it to contend for top honors in our IOMeter Workstation suite. But contend it did, coming in a close second only to Quantum's latest-revision Atlas 10k II.

Along with Quantum, Fujitsu has been the leading manufacturer when it comes to packing as much data as possible onto platters found in a SCSI drive. Last year's MAE3xxx, for example, crammed 4.6 gigs of data onto a single platter while competitors such as IBM and Seagate were doing just 3.7. This year is no different, with Fujitsu's current generation 7200 RPM flagship, the MAH3182LP, featuring 9.1 gigs per platter.

This time around, however, Fujitsu has curtailed the capacity offered in its 7200 RPM line. With the MAH3182LP offering only two platters, capacity tops out at just 18 GB. This decision mirrors that of Seagate, whose Barracuda 18XL series, also consolidated at the 18 gig level. This contrasts with competitors Quantum and IBM, two companies that have pushed forward to the 36 gig plateau with their low-profile 7200 RPM units.

The MAH's seek time is specified at 6.8 milliseconds, a bit on the high side when compared to the Atlas V's 6.3 ms and the Barracuda 18XL's 5.9 ms. Buffer size, on the other hand, is relatively roomy. At 4 megs, the Fujitsu matches the size offered by the Quantum and doubles Seagate's cache. An enterprise-class 5-year warranty protects the drive.

Let's turn to the benchmarks to see how the MAH stacks up!

WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

We measure the Fujitsu's access time at 11.6 milliseconds. Subtracting 4.2 ms to account for the drive's 7200 RPM rotational latency yields a measured seek time of 7.4 milliseconds, a bit higher than Fujitsu's spec. This places it substantially higher than the category-leading Atlas V, whose access time comes in at just 10.4 ms. We should note, however, that a score of 11.6 ms does place the Fujitsu 0.4 ms below that of the Seagate, a drive that boasts the lowest specified seek time at just 5.9 ms... but measures in with an access time of 12.0 ms.

The MAH's transfer rate, on the other hand, easily sets a new record for a 7200 RPM SCSI drive with scores of 34.5 MB/sec in outer zones. This easily tops Quantum's drive (the previous record-holder) by over 5 MB/sec. The Fujitsu's inner-track rates are just as impressive, trumping the competition at 21.1 MB/sec.

Due to the lack of available 7200 RPM drives benchmarked in our new testbed, we've decided to break our tradition of keeping SCSI and ATA comparisons separate within the context of individual articles. Thus we've included the Deskstar 75GXP, Quantum Fireball Plus LM, and Western Digital Caviar 400BB in the above graphs. Its interesting to note how the Fujitsu fails to beat the Quantum in seek times and the IBM in sequential transfer rates. The best of today's ATA drives give 7200 RPM SCSI quite a run for its money.

WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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The MAH lags slightly behind the Seagate Barracuda 18XL and more significantly behind the Quantum Atlas V with its score of 5.2 MB/sec in the Business Disk WinMark 99. At 15.3 MB/sec, however, Fujitsu's High-End WinMark score bests Seagate's... but still trails Quantum.

It should be a surprise to few that current-generation ATA drives best the Fujitsu (and the Quantum and Seagate, for that matter) in WinBench 99... due to optimizations in caching and firmware, ATA drives always perform very well in ZD's benchmark.

Let's examine the situation in IOMeter.

IOMeter Performance

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When it comes to IOMeter, the MAH posts decent, yet unspectacular, scores. Its Workstation IOMeter Index (a weighted average of Light, Medium, and Heavy loads) score of 178.41 places it somewhere between the category-leading Barracuda 18XL and the Quantum Atlas V.

An interesting aside involves Quantum's Fireball and Atlas line. The Atlas brings up the rear when it comes to SCSI Workstation figures. The Fireball, on the other hand, leads the pack. Both drives are ostensibly based on the same line... and the scores for both drives in the Workstation Index are very close. Note that SCSI's advantage seems to shine in the File Server and Database indices, where the Atlas pulls away from its brother.


Fujitsu's drives are always among the quietest and coolest around. With just two platters, the MAH is no exception. Idle noise is non-existent and seeks are as quiet as those found on Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus 45 or Western Digital's Caviar WD400BB. The drive operates cool to the touch and should be easily integrated into most machines.

Overall, the MAH is an unassuming drive that provides decent performance... about what one should expect from an entry-level SCSI drive. Nevertheless, one in the market for a 7200 RPM SCSI drive would probably be better off with the Seagate Barracuda 18XL. And, of course, if the 18 gig capacity of both the Fujitsu and Seagate is limiting, when Quantum is offering the Atlas V in capacities of up to 36 gigs.

Fujitsu MAH3xxx MAH3182LP
Estimated Price: TBA
Also Available: : MAH3091 (9.1 GB)
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