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Update HP is shortly to launch a 300GB 2.5-inch hard drive claiming it will have "more storage capacity than any other SFF drive in the market." Both Fujitsu and Seagate's have 300GB 2.5-inch drives already. What's going on?

El Reg was pointed to HP's Reality Check: Server Insights blog and found this: "Have you been waiting for higher capacities on your 2.5-inch small form factor (SFF) drives? HP will launch the 300GB 3G SAS 10K SFF Enterprise Drive shortly. With this drive, you will get more for less: More storage capacity than any other SFF drive."

Alone amongst the big server vendors, HP tweaks hard disk drives and sells them as HP-branded drives. Remember FATA? That was HP's way of making SATA drives usable in Fibre Channel arrays with FATA standing for Fibre-Attached Technology-Adapted. The things have been rendered more or less redundant by SAS and especially SAS 2.0 with its 6Gbit/s interface which outpaces the 2 or 4Gbit/s FC drive interfaces.

HP's new 300GB SFF drive will have, it says, 75 per cent power savings over comparable 3.5 inch 300GB capacity drives, a 60 per cent improvement in system level performance over 3.5-inch 15K drives, and the industry’s longest field tested reliability SFF drive delivering lowest operational and support costs (according to supplier tests). The supplier isn't named.

The 75 per cent power saving becomes a 50 per cent power saving when compared to a 3.5-inch 15K drive.

Both Fujitsu and Seagate have 300GB 10K SAS (6Gbit/s) SFF drives. We'll look at Seagate as it was a drive supplier for HP's FATA line.

Seagate's Savvio 10.3 product has, the company says, a 67 per cent power saving over a 3.5 inch 15K drive, giving Seagate a power-efficiency advantage. Let's also assume that the Savvio's reliability is about the same as the coming HP baby drive.

Seagate also says its Savvio 10.3 product has a greater than 1.5x system-level performance improvement over 3.5-inch drives, not specifying whether they are 15K ones though. HP says its new product will have a 60 per cent system-level performance speed-up over 3.5-inch 15K drives. So let's assume the HP and Seagate drives have more or less the same system-level performance improvement. We're left with the situation that HP is going to ship a drive with the same capacity as the Savvio 10.3, less power-efficiency and equivalent system-level performance and reliability. Why bother?

It's odder still with the Savvio having a full disk encryption facility and the HP blogger, an S Mathur, not mentioning encryption at all. Another mark of oddness: the blog entry was not posted on HP's Around The Storage Block blog which would be a more natural home for it.

Shipping not announcing

An HP spokesperson said:" We are announcing world-wide customer availability for 300GB SAS 10k SFF [Savvio 10.3 drives] running at 3Gbit/s ... HP is the first systems integrator to have these drives available for customers to purchase ... Our HDD partners have provided drives with 6Gbit/s SAS available for test, but customers cannot run 6Gb today."

"The discrepancy in [power savings] numbers is a case of different tests delivering slightly different numbers. The power savings [for] 2.5 vs. 3.5 [drives] are real."

Full disk encryption (FDE) is not being offered because: "Much like 6Gbit/s SAS, there is significant infrastructure on the system side to facilitate Full Disk Encryption. Many customers are unclear around their needs for enterprise encryption." This is something HP is working on with Seagate and others.

So HP is announcing that the drives, down-rated Savvio 10.3s in the SAS connectivity and FDE areas, will be available soon and reckons it will be the first supplier to actually ship them in products to customers. ®

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