Seagate launches their Barracuda XT line with a 2TB 7200RPM drive

by: John -
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While 2 Terabyte hard drives aren't new, Seagate's trying to offer an extra large drive with the speed and features that gamers and power users want. Today they are introducing their extreme line of hard drives in the Barracuda XT. The Barracuda XT is made for high performance gaming or for those that do multimedia editing. What you get is a fast, high capacity drive with a limited 5 year warranty. What's new though is that the first Barracuda XT drive will not only be 2 Terabytes and running at 7200RPMS, but it will also be using a SATA 6G interface.

I talked with both Michael Hall and David Burks at Seagate about their new line and what it means for gamers. Well, most 2TB drives are running at 5400 or slower RPM right now so you may be getting some good amount of storage, the speed just isn't there. Yes, you can tell a difference between a 5400RPM drive and a 7200RPM drive and Seagate has managed to give you the standard speed that we are used to. While they won't match the Raptors in terms of speed, you should still get a good amount of performance out of the 7200RPM drive.

Of course the big there here is the SATA 6.0GB interface for the drive, which is backwards compatible with SATA 3.0GB and SATA 1.5GB. The same cables are used so you won't need anything new there if you are replacing a drive with the Barracuda XT 2TB. If I am not mistaken, this will be the industry's first SATA 6.0GB drive and it's coming in at a nice 7200RPM speed with an enormous amount of storage capacity to boot.

64MB of cache is also onboard giving you plenty of memory to help get some performance out of the drive. Now having a SATA 6.0GB connection and in part the rest of the technology in the drive won't necessarily mean you'll get an immediate and across the board performance but this is the beginning of many technologies coming down the pipe between hardware and software that will allow for taking full advantage of the 6GB bandwidth. The 64MB of cache though will help grab some immediate performance increases provided that developers can take advantage of it. For example, a developer will know what options there are for the player to go in a game and he or she can program the game to load up that information in the cache rather than streaming from the discs themselves ahead of time. Accessing cache is faster than trying to access the hard drive so someone with the knowledge and programming prowess can take advantage of the cache to provide some improved performance in accessing game data. Some early testing data provided to me by David said they've seen 47% improvement on non-linear video editing so those applications that are cache intensive will see the benefits initially.

While SATA 3.0GB isn't currently being saturated by today's hard ware, Seagate predicts that by latter 2010 and early 2011, you will need SATA 6.0GB. Just like the past standards, it's going to take a while to saturate the new one as you don't want to build hardware that already maxes out today.

There are four platters in the Barracuda XT 2TB drive with eight heads. With four platters, you're going to get a little bit louder drives than their Barracuda 7200 line but not enough to really notice. Heat and power consumption should be better than the current 2GB drives out there since they are using fewer platters. The areal density will be the same as their 1 and 2 platter 500GBZ and 1TB drives so there's nothing new in that realm but the capacity is achieved by the extra platters in the hard drive.

Seagate also offers some tools to help push performance even further if you want to. David told me about some blogs that talk about taking the tools and using them to extract even better performance. Seagate's going to help those that don't know how with videos and some literature so others will soon be able to push their hard drives further and further. I joked with David that it sounds like overclocking for hard drives and he actually found the term funny as well.

Shipping date is, well, today for $299. It's a little expensive but that's expected for those wanting to be early adopters of the product. The 5 year warranty is great to see in this drive so you can be sure that you'll have plenty of years of support should the drive fail on you. If you need both storage capacity and speed, the Barracuda XT line is just for you with their initial 2TB offering. I've been a purchaser of Seagate drives exclusively for a long time and have had incredible luck with them. I might doing a review in the near future so keep an eye out for that.

I like to thank Michael and David for taking the time to speak with me on their new line of hard drives for power users.

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