Seagate's 'AI' disk drive: Just put slightly higher numbers on the specs

Surveillance hardware purpose-built for deep learning, analytics

Seagate has bolted "AI" to its SkyHawk disk drive brand, saying it's better suited for next-generation deep learning and video analytics.

The marketing department breathlessly describes it as "the first drive created specifically for artificial intelligence (AI) enabled video surveillance solutions".

Sai Varanasi, VP product line management, burbled in the same fashion: "We are excited to introduce smart, purpose-built SkyHawk AI solutions that expand the design space for our customers and partners, allowing them to implement next-generation deep learning and video analytics applications."

How so? Seagate says the new drive's "high throughput and enhanced caching deliver low latency and excellent random read performance to quickly locate and deliver video images and footage analysis".

Do these claims stack up? Yes and no.

The SkyHawk AI comes in 8TB and 10TB capacity points, has the same 6gig SATA interface and 7,200rpm spin speed as its equivalent predecessors, the same seven platters and 867Gbit/in2 areal density and ImagePerfect firmware.

But its sustained transfer maximum rate is 214MB/sec; the 10TB SkyHawk max rate is 210MB/sec. So the higher throughput claim is kosher but maybe not that significant.

Both SkyHawk and SkyHawk AI have a 256MB cache buffer and 4.16ms average latency.

Where it does differ from SkyHawk is having a higher 550TB/year workload and 2 million hours mean-time-before-failure rating, compared to 180TB/year and a million hours. It's been given a five-year limited warranty and a two-year Seagate Rescue Services contract is included with the drive.

In other words the SkyHawk AI is more robust than the standard SkyHawk and transfers data 1.9 per cent faster. Otherwise it seems identical.

The SkyHawk AI is shipping now at $349.99 (8TB) and $449.99 (10TB). Specs and owners manual here. ®

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