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Son of Zeus
09-15-2000, 11:38 AM
I found this article on PC World to be of interest. Scheduled for release in October at prices ranging from $95 for a 10GB drive they may be the "bee's knees" for those of u interested in ATA RAID. They have a new 80-MHz processor on the drive's controller. My PC, an i486DX4, is only 100MHz. In Australia a Barracuda (referred to as a "Barra") is a great eating fish & I'd gobble up a few of these Barras in a moment.

Cheers.......Son of Zeus.

Seagate Breeds Faster Barracuda
===============================
Barracuda ATA III, offering up to 40GB, brings SCSI-like performance to EIDE hard drives, by Stan Miastkowski, special to PCWorld.com
September 6th, 2000, 5:00 a.m. PT

Hard drives are not only getting bigger, they're getting faster. This week, Seagate is rolling out the fourth generation of its 7200-rotations-per-minute Barracuda ATA (IDE) drives, claiming several improvements make it the fastest-available ATA drive for desktop PCs.

The drives are scheduled for release in October in four configurations at prices ranging from $95 for a 10GB drive to $225 for a 40GB drive.

The Barracuda ATA III drives feature an ATA/100 (sometimes referred to as UltraDMA-100) interface, which can transfer data at maximum burst rates of up to 100MB per second. PCs with ATA/100 interfaces have only recently started to become available. However, the drives are also compatible with earlier PCs equipped with ATA/66 and ATA/33 interfaces, albeit with lower peak performance.

Inside the box, Seagate says, the internal data transfer rate has been upped 37 percent to 500 megabits per second. In addition, a new 80-MHz processor on the drive's controller is 25 percent faster than the previous model of the Barracuda. The drives have an average 8.9 ms seek time and a 2MB buffer.

The Barracuda drives use Seagate's third generation of Fluid Dynamic Bearings, which have liquid instead of ball bearings for the motor shaft for lower noise, reduced vibration, longer life, and increased shock resistance. The drives are designed to withstand 350 g's (350 times the force of gravity) while not operating, according to Seagate. The drives come packaged in the company's SeaShell--special packaging that protects the drives from up to 1000 g's of force during shipment and before installation.

Aimed at Offices
The drive is aimed at people who spend most of their time working in mainstream business applications such as office suites, according to Seagate. It is also suited to photo and video editing and storage, as well as CD mastering and MP3 file storage.
Seagate also intends the drives for use in low-cost, multidrive Redundant Array of Independent Disks installations. Primarily used in servers for increased performance and data security, RAID until recently has been used mainly with SCSI hard drives. Companies such as Adaptec and Promise Technology recently have released low-cost RAID controllers designed for ATA drives.

The company says the Barracuda ATA III drives also include a faster and more complete version of Drive Self Test, which resides in ROM on the drive's circuit board. DST tracks errors and problems as they occur, and works automatically.

Also included with all the drives is the latest version of SeaTools, a set of diagnostic utilities. SeaTools directly accesses the drives' DST and works with all SCSI and IDE drives from any manufacturer.

Charles Kozierok
09-15-2000, 03:18 PM
Hey SOZ,

Very interesting stuff. Especially the major spin they are putting on this (as companies do with all new products, of course.) The main issue is that this drive appears at first glance to be slower than their last generation drive.
You may want to subtitle this post "how to dissect a hard disk press release":


Barracuda ATA III, offering up to 40GB, brings SCSI-like performance to EIDE hard drives

Yah right. If only I had a nickel every time I've heard that!


The Barracuda ATA III drives feature an ATA/100 (sometimes referred to as UltraDMA-100) interface, which can transfer data at maximum burst rates of up to 100MB per second. PCs with ATA/100 interfaces have only recently started to become available. However, the drives are also compatible with earlier PCs equipped with ATA/66 and ATA/33 interfaces, albeit with lower peak performance.

This alone shows that the writer has not clue one about hard disk performance. The speed of the interface has almost no bearing on real-world performance when the interface is not the bottleneck. This drive cannot possibly saturate an ultra ATA-66 interface, much less an Ultra ATA-100 one. The above is pure marketing hyperbole.


Inside the box, Seagate says, the internal data transfer rate has been upped 37 percent to 500 megabits per second.Respectable, but transfer rates have been shown to not be nearly as important to overall performance as originally though.

In addition, a new 80-MHz processor on the drive's controller is 25 percent faster than the previous model of the Barracuda. The drives have an average 8.9 ms seek time and a 2MB buffer.

Speed of the internal processor? Yawn. It's not really a performance issue and never has been. The key issue is how fast you can get to the data, access time. Of which the key components are spindle speed (and thus rotational latency) and seek time.
And you'll notice that buried in there is the seek time of this new drive: 8.9 ms. Well, the older version of this drive had a seek time of 8.2 ms. So this drive appears to have a seek time 10% lower than the older generation.
How significant is this? Quite. The main reason I guffaw at claims that an IDE drive will match the speed of a high-end SCSI one is that good SCSI drives have seek times of around 5.0 ms. Seagate appears to be going in the wrong direction here.


Aimed at Offices
The drive is aimed at people who spend most of their time working in mainstream business applications such as office suites, according to Seagate.

Exactly! Which is why I don't buy this as being a great new performance achievement. I'm sure it's a good drive, but it does not appear to be breaking any new ground.
I'll be interested to see how this drive does when it is examined at www.storagereview.com (http://www.storagereview.com) but I don't see much to excite thus far.
Anyway, that's a different view of the same thing. Thanks for sharing that with us, SOZ!

------------------
Charles M. Kozierok
Webslave, The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Comprehensive PC Reference, Troubleshooting, Optimization and Buyer's Guides...
Note: Please reply to my forum postings here on the forums. Thanks.

Son of Zeus
09-15-2000, 05:55 PM
Charles,

there seems to be some confusion here.

The following info. was taken from the Seagate Web Site this morning:
1) Barracuda ATA I 10.2 GB Ultra ATA/66 7200 RPM 7.6 ms avg DPC $150.00
2) Barracuda ATA II 10.2 GB Ultra ATA/66 7200 RPM 8.2 ms avg DPC $145.00
3) Barracuda ATA III 10.2 GB UltraATA/100 7200 RPM 8.9 ms avg DPC $95.00

A look at the Barracuda range of Hard Drives does indeed show a drop in average access time, but not just the 10% (which is actually 7.8%) you mentioned. As listed below the original Barracuda came in at 7.6MS, the next generation at 8.2MS (the one you were referring to=a drop of 7.8% NOT 10% over the new 8.9MS) & now the third generation at 8.9MS=a drop of 15% from the original.

I have actually been corresponding with Seagate re a number of issues for updating my current systems Hard Drives & designing my next system. The point that came across to me, when discussing this with them, is the more important one that the price drop from the original Barracuda from $150.00 to $95.00=A DROP OF 37%!!!

My understanding of their marketing is that the push towards sub $100 7200RPM Hard Drives is partly to encourage the move towards ATA RAID. As a RAID system needs at least two, or even four, Hard Drives we can now compare the following:

Seagate ATA RAID 2 Hard Drive System:
2x $150.00=$300.00
2x $95.00=$190.00
Difference=$110.00=37%

Seagate ATA RAID 4 Hard Drive System:
4x $150.00=$600.00
4x $95.00=$380.00
Difference=$220.00=37%

The price saving of $110.00 US on a 2 Drive RAID System or $220.00 US on a 4 Drive RAID System is huge, & to me could make the difference between whether my next system is RAID or non.

As for the UltraATA/100 being irrelevant. Yes this was certainly bad reporting, if he was only discussing a single HD system. But after numerous emails to Seagate my understanding is that part of the reason for producing these much cheaper HDs is their belief in RAID.

To quote Seagate (I won't give full details of who gave me this info, as it was a private email) “we believe in RAID...& the mainstreaming of home networking, which will benefit greatly from inexpensive ATA RAID systems. Check out the photo of the new Barracuda ATA III. http://www.seagate.com/newsinfo/images/downloads/cudaata3.jpg“

UltraATA/100 is essential if we are to have RAID; otherwise the interface will definitely become the bottleneck. The maximum burst rates supplied by ATA/66 will not cut it for RAID systems built around these latest Seagate HDs.

I think the reporter did a lousy job in not stressing the dramatic price reductions that come with these new drives & the possibilities of cheaper RAID & home networking, but I still maintain that I will grab them with both hands when they come out. Assuming ofcourse that they perform as expected when reviewed by such sites as StorageReview etc. :-)

Hope that clears up some misunderstandings.


Cheers.......Son of Zeus.

Charles Kozierok
09-16-2000, 12:24 AM
First, ATA/100 doesn't help RAID because IDE channels can't access both drives on the channel simultaneously. So it makes no difference.
As for the rest, we'll see. I have been reading numerous testimonials from people who are finding IDE RAID isn't all it's cut out to be. RAID 0 does not improve access time, only throughput, and I don't believe that super-high throughput has all that much relevance to typical hard disk use.
Interesting stuff to talk about, certainly.

------------------
Charles M. Kozierok
Webslave, The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Comprehensive PC Reference, Troubleshooting, Optimization and Buyer's Guides...
Note: Please reply to my forum postings here on the forums. Thanks.

Son of Zeus
09-16-2000, 01:13 AM
Interesting indeed. Well u may have saved me some money there.

Wonder why a number of sites are posting figures showing the installation of Win98SE being slashed from 30 minutes to 15 minutes with RAID & similar dramatic increases on other real-world applications?

Everywhere I go on the Net, bar maybe 1 or 2 sites, post very good results with RAID. Maybe we need to swap some URLs to see who has been saying what, where & to whom. The plot thickens. Stay tuned. We want the truth, the whole truth & nothing but the truth.

Cheers.......Son of Zeus.

Charles Kozierok
09-16-2000, 10:14 AM
I need to temper my previous comments somewhat. It's certainly true that RAID can improve performance in some applications, and sometimes dramatically. The devil is indeed in the details here. It depends on what is being done and how. I am sure some people see a big difference, but others do not.
My issue is that they appear to want to have their cake and eat it too. They are claiming at the same time that the drive "delivers SCSI-like performance" or whatever, and simultaneously that they are aiming to make the drive cheap for use in RAID arrays. Doesn't really make sense, does it?
That said, it's probably a nice drive. I just want to wait and see how it benchmarks. And my point was more to show how deceptive these press releases are.

------------------
Charles M. Kozierok
Webslave, The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Comprehensive PC Reference, Troubleshooting, Optimization and Buyer's Guides...
Note: Please reply to my forum postings here on the forums. Thanks.

Son of Zeus
09-16-2000, 02:37 PM
Charles,

Points taken.

I have been hunting around for some links re our little RAID analysis but got distracted with the Olympic highlights for Day 1. At the time of writing Australia is on top, with a slight lead of 1 Silver over the US. But for how long? Ah well, that’s another matter. Some Aussie's are already saying: "Quick stop the games, now, whilst we're ahead. Start the closing ceremony. Go, go, go!!!".

Did come across this one RAID related quote taken off a web site somewhere however: “Striping improves performance - you add together the transfer rates of the two drives, provided your drive interface has the bandwidth to handle it.”

This, & similar (it now appears inaccurate) comments that I have read online lately, are what lead me to conclude in my previous mail: “UltraATA/100 is essential if we are to have RAID; otherwise the interface will definitely become the bottleneck. The maximum burst rates supplied by ATA/66 will not cut it for RAID systems built around these latest Seagate HDs.”

In retrospect I should have stressed the “WILL BECOME” ie. future tense rather than present eg. “The maximum burst rates supplied by ATA/66 will soon not cut it for ATA RAID systems built around the coming generations of High Performance Desktop 7200RPM ATA HDs.”

"My issue is that they appear to want to have their cake and eat it too. They are claiming at the same time that the drive "delivers SCSI-like performance" or whatever, and simultaneously that they are aiming to make the drive cheap for use in RAID arrays. Doesn't really make sense, does it?"

Well no, not if u interpret it that way. Personally I feel that if the writer really believes that these current ATA Drives actually outperform their SCSI counterparts he should be shot for gross stupidity. Even I, who am relatively new to PCs, know that u get what u pay for. SCSI HDs are much more expensive than ATA HDs for a very simple reason. They are a far superior product & not just in terms of pure "grunt" either. SCSI holds other advantages over ATA, which The PC Guide outlines in detail.

OK shooting him would be an over reaction. Not to mention illegal, messy & hard to cover up. How about we sack then tar & feather him? Seriously though I interpreted what he was saying along the lines of modern ATA HDs are producing a performance level that was, until very recently, only thought possible by High End, expensive SCSI HDs. Maybe? Maybe not.

"That said, it's probably a nice drive. I just want to wait and see how it benchmarks."

Amen, Barras always were a great eating fish & cook up a treat when done outdoors over a good barbie & washed down with a refreshingly cold tinnie of Fosters in the company of good friends. Hopefully the Barra HDs will also be a good deal. Don't forget the US Dollar is extremely strong against virtually every other currency in the world at present. So a drop from $150 US to $95 makes a big difference. Also, even if u don't go RAID they are cheap enough to put in as a second HD for backups etc.

"And my point was more to show how deceptive these press releases are."

Agree there. Although, to be fair, I thought the actual Seagate Web Site press release was a lot more informed & not nearly as hyped as this one. Maybe the writer was getting a "backhander" or a couple of free barras for a good write up.

Remember the old saying: "U can fool some of the people some of the time but you'll never fool Charles M. Kozierok & his loyal PC Guide Readers". Or something like that. :-)

Cheers from the Best Little Hum Dinger of a Country in the World...Australia...Home of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Charles Kozierok
09-17-2000, 09:59 AM
Oh, I can be fooled a lot of the time too, and am regularly. Don't think otherwise. http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/smile.gif
The "SCSI-like performance" thing is just pure marketing fluff, pretty common actually.
As for the interface speed: it applies only to short transfers from the internal buffer to the system. For longer reads, or random reads, the limiting factor is the speed of the drive itself. With SCSI you are 100% correct that the interface speed matters, because you can have two drives sending data at once. But not with IDE.
It's also definitely true that all drives are improving in speed every year.
As for the Olympics, I might start a thread in the After Hours Club about that. I can see you Aussies are having a lot of fun with it. http://www.PCGuide.com/ubb/smile.gif

------------------
Charles M. Kozierok
Webslave, The PC Guide (http://www.PCGuide.com)
Comprehensive PC Reference, Troubleshooting, Optimization and Buyer's Guides...
Note: Please reply to my forum postings here on the forums. Thanks.