by January 4, 2011 0 comments

The ‘Green’ initiatives in hard-drive space have been on fora couple of years. Before we explore what differentiatesSeagate’s Green 2TB drive from other drives in this seg-ment, let’s find out what is the ‘Advanced Format’.

Impact of Advanced Format

All major hard drive companies have agreed that after January01, 2011, all their drives will be Advanced Format (AF) compat-ible. The new 4K sector format will help drive manufacturers todeliver higher capacity drives with improved error correction.The legacy 512-byte sector layout had non-data related over-head of 50 bytes for ECC (error correction coding) and another15 bytes for Gap, Sync and Address Mark sections. This used toresult in a sectorized format efficiency of about 88%. Now withthe Advanced Format standard, eight legacy 512-byte sectorswill be combined to form a single 4K-byte sector. The new formatuses the same number of bytes for Gap, Sync and Address Mark,but increases the ECC field to 100 bytes. This yields a sectorizedformat efficiency of 97%; thus resulting in a 10% improvementover the legacy standard.

With this transition, lies a problem. Since most computingsystems assume that the sector size would be of 512 bytes andwould keep requesting and receive data from drive in 512 bytesizes only. Also operating systems like Windows XP are not 4Kaware. Therefore misalignment can happen and that can de-grade the drive performance. One can use third-party alignmentutility to align the Advanced Format drives, but they take severalhours for each drive installation. This would be extremely cum-bersome for systems administrators to deploy AF drives.

Seagate SmartAlign

To counter hassles of misalignment, Seagate has introduced Smar-tAlign feature in their drives. It’s a real-time alignment manage-ment firmware built in the drive. Thus simplifying the transitionto Advanced Format 4K standard and also eliminating the use oftime-consuming integration utilities required by other AF drives.

And that’s the differentiating feature which this new SeagateBarracuda Green 2TB drive has over other drives in the segment.This makes the drive future-ready for enterprises that are still onWindows XP and can adopt these huge-capacity drives. The drivecomes with SATA 6Gb/sec interface and has 64 MB cache mem-ory, which ensures access time to the drive is reduced thus increasing performance.

The drive outperformed its predecessor, Barracuda LP (re-viewed in October ’09), by giving average transfer rate of 104MB/sec with access time of 17.1 ms, while the speed of BarracudaLP was 91.4 MB/sec with an access time of 12.3 ms. Also, thisGreen drive consumes 5.8 W during operating mode while Bar-racuda LP consumed 6.8 W, thus making Barracuda Greenmeaner on energy consumption, delivering better performance.

BOTTOMLINE: The performance and SmartAlign feature makesthis drive an ideal choice for enterprises for hassle-free transitiontowards Advanced Format drives.

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