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Hard-Drive Roundup June 2010


by Stuart Davidson - 20th June 2010
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Hard-Drive Roundup

Hard-Drive Roundup June 2010


A few years ago the hard drive market was pretty much stuck in a rut. We had ever increasing capacity’s, the occasional move up in cache level and rotational speed but other than the migration from IDE to SATA there was very little to talk about. That changed to a certain extent with the release of Western Digital’s Raptor range which brought 10,000RPM models to consumers and from those who could afford them the feedback on performance was very positive.

Then a couple of years ago the first consumer SSDs hit the shelves and from that point on we have seen a constant refresh of products as manufactures drove for increased capacity and performance on the new architectures. The first batch of drives, based on JMicron controllers promised performance which was superior to mechanical drives but the reality was that controller issues resulted in a less than desirable experience. Then came the 2nd generation of SSDs which took a great leap forward in speed and user experience at which point the enthusiast market began to really take notice of what could be achieved. Intel, Indilinx and to a certain extent Samsung were the big players at this point and through firmware revisions we eventually reached a stage where the majority of users could consider a SSD as their primary hard drive.

Now we are on to the 3rd real generation of SSDs which currently feature controllers from SandForce and Marvell, boosting performance further whilst improving the overall user experience by learning form the issues encountered in previous generations. That doesn’t mean that mechanical drives have stood still though, far from it. Western Digital have since refreshed their Raptor range, introducing the VelociRaptor and more recently higher capacity models which use the new SATA 3 interface. Speaking of SATA 3, Seagate now offer a massive capacity mechanical drive on that platform so now seems like a good time to look at a selection of drives to find out what each offers in the current marketplace. Today’s review includes SandForce, Indilinx and Toshiba based SSDs mixed in with the Seagate 6GB/s and VelociRaptor mechanical models then just for good measure a high spec 2.5” mechanical drive is added to ensure we have a complete picture of the real world performance available at each market segment.
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