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Seagate Barracuda 9LP ST39173W

  March 19, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 SCSI Drive Roundup
See also our Drive Cooler Roundup

The fourth generation of Seagate's enterprise-class SCSI hard drives has arrived in the form of the Barracuda 9LP. Originally introduced in 1993, the Barracuda was Seagate's first 7200rpm 3.5" drive. Storage Review took a look at the recent Barracuda 4XL, the ST34572W, in the 4.5 GB Ultra SCSI drive roundup. The 4XL performed admirably, finishing second in the Winbench 98 tests only to Seagate's 10,000rpm Cheetah. The next generation 9LP drive features an increased areal density, doubling the amount of data stored on each platter. Using 5 1.8 gig disks, the drive manages to pack 9 gigabytes of storage into a 1" profile, unlike the 4XL's 9GB counterpart, the Barracuda 9, which had to resort to a 1.6" (half-height) thickness. Seagate has shaved about 2 milliseconds off of the seek time in the newer drive, claiming a read/write average seek time of 7.1/7.8 ms. The buffer has also been increased from 512 kilobytes to 1 megabyte. The Barracuda 9LP will be available in Ultra SCSI, Ultra2 SCSI, and Fibre-Channel interfaces. In this review, we take a look at the Ultra-Wide version, the ST39173W.

This is a pricey drive that one isn't going to find in a retail store; mail-order will mostly likely be the only option. The 9LP arrived as a bare drive in a static bag, with a rather cryptic single-sheet detailing how to set the drive's ID and termination. No other documentation or mounting hardware is included.

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.

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The Barracuda posts an impressive set of numbers. Under Windows 95, the 9LP's random access time approaches that of the Cheetah while the transfer rate actually exceeds that of its 10,000rpm cousin. Under NT, the drive shows an increase in the Business Disk WinMark 98, but strangely enough, a slight decrease in the High-End WinMark. The 9LP posts high Threadmark scores, breaking the 9 MB/sec barrier in Windows NT.

The drive becomes quite warm to the touch after extensive operation; while we could touch the unit, it was uncomfortable to do so. Though not nearly as objectionable as that of the Cheetah's, the drive emits a high-pitched whine that may be noticed in quieter computing environments. The Barracuda was quite loud when seeking from track-to-track, sharing with the Cheetah the "blender full of rocks" phenomenon. Just as the mechanical improvements close the gap between the two in performance, the loud actuator brings the two noise levels closer. The Barracuda 9LP is still quieter than the Cheetah 4LP, but not by much.

It's probably a safe bet to say that the upcoming second-generation Cheetah will easily outpace the Barracuda. Nevertheless, the Barracuda series continues to be an attractive option where the heat of 10,000rpm drives make them impractical.

Seagate Barracuda 9LP ST39173W
Estimated Price: $850
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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