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Seagate's Cheetah adds new spots

New disk drives, business as usual

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While coping with the executive disarray of changing its CEO and COO, Seagate has also found time to announce a couple of new disk drives - a 600GB Cheetah 15,000rpm drive along with a new 10,000rpm version.

Cheetah drives are Seagate's mainstream 3.5in business drives, spinning at 10,000rpm (10k) and 15,000rpm (15k), compared to the more capacious Barracudas spinning at 7200rpm.

Seagate is engaged in a bit of across-the-board capacity upgrading as the Barracuda has just received a capacity boost with a 500GB two-platter model announced and an implied 2TB model on the way to replace the existing 1.5TB product.

The Cheetah 15K.6 is the sixth-generation Cheetah, spinning at 15,000rpm and offering 147, 300 or 450GB capacity accessed through 4Gb/s Fibre Channel (FC) or 3Gb/s SAS. It also has a full disk encryption (FDE) option. The Cheetah NS spins at 10k, offers the same interfaces and capacities of 300 or 400GB. This product is optimised for lower power-consumption. Seagate punts it for NAS and direct-attached strage needs with the 15k positioned for NAS and SAn use.

There is a second generation NS product coming, the NS.2, and a seventh generation Cheetah 15K.7. Both will offer increased capacity, up to 600GB. Both get a faster SAS II interface running at 6Gb/s. The NS.2 gets PowerTrim technology from the Cheetah 15K line which is claimed to reduce the power draw by up to 20 per cent compared to the previous NS product. It also gets the encryption option as Seagate tries to maximise its sales appeal.

Seagate expects 3.5in enterprise drives to have roughly 45 per cent of the enterprise market in 2009, down from the slightly more than half they claimed in 2008. There will be a fairly steep decline in 3.5in enterprise shipments in 2010 as customers adopt smaller 2.5in drives which offer more IOPS from a drive shelf. Seagate thinks this will be the year that enterprises take more 2.5in than 3.5in drives.

This is consequent on storage array vendors adopting them. It seems likely that they will be offering roughly equivalent capacities per drive to today's 3.5in drives by then which would help.

The 3.5in drive enterprise market will then continue to decline in 2011 and 2012 after which it may well disappear.

Will we see short-stroked 2.5in drives? That's a tactic used to speed disk I/O by only putting data on the fastest-accessed tracks. If it is done then it drives up the cost/GB and narrows the price gap between 2.5in HDDs and 2.5in solid state drives (SSDs).

The Cheetah NS.2 is said to be becoming available this week with the 15K.7 shipping to the channel next quarter. Seagate has not released any pricing information. ®

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