by July 7, 2000 0 comments
Seagate Cheetah
XL Model ST318404LW

Ultra 160 SCSI hard drive. $544

Features: Ultra 160 SCSI interface;
2 GB/sec fiber optic channel; 10,000 rpm spindle speed; 4 MB cache.

Pros: Fast transfer rates; moderate heating during operation.

Cons: Seek time slightly higher than rated.

Source: Not yet launched in India.

The Seagate Cheetah belongs to the XL family of hard drives.
These are available in a wide range from 9.2 GB to 73.4 GB. We tested the 18.4
GB drive. This is a high-end SCSI drive for applications like video editing,
which require high throughputs or for servers that cater to a large user base.
It has an Ultra 160 SCSI interface, which supports high bandwidths of almost up
to 160 MB/sec. The drive also features advanced technologies like a 2 GB/sec
fiber optic channel and 10,000 rpm spindle speed.

We used a PIII/450 with 128 MB RAM and a GeForce AGP card,
along with an Adaptec AHA-2940U2W SCSI card, to test the drive. We tested it on
both Win 98 and NT machines.

Unlike many SCSI drives, this drive didn’t heat up much.

The disk has a rated access time of about 5.2 ms. However, in
our tests, it stood at 6.13 ms, which is slightly higher than rated. The
transfer rates were blazingly fast, sustaining at 30 MB/sec, which is impressive
by any standard. Obviously the 4 MB cache works to its advantage here. As far as
CPU usage is concerned, we got moderately good performance, between 1.5 and 4
percent respectively.

We compared the drive to the Quantum Atlas 10k, which is also
a 10,000 rpm Ultra 160 SCSI drive. It was tough competition, with the Seagate
leading in some tests, and the Quantum in others. In raw throughputs, the
Seagate outperformed the Quantum drive, with a whopping difference of 10 MB/sec.
This is the raw transfer rate that a drive is actually able to achieve without
involving the operating system. The drive gave
35.5 MB/sec, while the Quantum stood at 25 MB/sec.

However, in real world rates involving applications and the
operating system, there was tough competition between the two. This was tested
using the high-end Disk Winmark test of Winbench 99. This benchmark measures the
data transfers achieved by high-end applications. The Seagate outperformed in
some applications, while the Quantum did it in others. When it comes to regular
Office applications, however, we didn’t find too much of a difference between
the Seagate and an IDE drive, nor did we expect to. obviously, you wouldn’t
buy this drive for word processing and Web browsing.

Installation under Win NT
We had some trouble installing this drive under Win NT 4. Despite
having the latest drivers for our SCSI adapter–Adaptec
AHA-2940U2W–NT refused to recognize the drive. Seagate’s Website
didn’t mention any specific issues related to the drive’s
installation. We then checked the Adaptec site, and found that
there’s a specific procedure for installing the drive on NT with the
particular card. When NT detects the hardware during installation, you
have to press F6. NT will then prompt you to insert drivers for your
storage device. You then have to give the drivers for the SCSI

The drive is available for $544 (not yet launched in India),
and has a one-year warranty. A good buy for specialized needs.

Anuj Jain at PCQ Labs

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