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Product survey: 5 SATA 500 GB HDD
by Marc Prieur
Published on August 22, 2007

In our first hard drive survey a year ago, we had to plan on spending almost 300 € for a storage capacity of 500 GB. This price has since been decreased by two-thirds and now it’s no longer rare to find such a capacity for 100 € or less. Seagate’s acquisition of Maxtor didn’t slow the competition down and Samsung even gained some power in the PC hard drive market.
5, 4, 3 and soon 2 platters
A year ago, only Seagate relied on perpendicular recording for this type of model allowing them to produce 500 GB hard drives with only three platters where Maxtor and Western used four and Hitachi five. As for Samsung, they were simply absent from this market.

You may recall, perpendicular recording allows the reduction of the surface occupied by each bit of data resulting in higher surface density. Therefore, more Gigabytes can be put on the same platter. In today’s survey, four of the five products have a three platter design, the Hitachi T7K500, Samsung T166 (HD501LJ), Seagate 7200.10 as well as the Western Caviar SE16 (WD5000AAKS). As a reference, we’ve also included a Hitachi E7K500, formerly known as the 7K500, which is equipped with no less than five platters. All of these hard drives have a cache of 16 MB.

We should note that in the last few weeks several announcements have appeared foreshadowing upcoming innovations in this market. Seagate announced its 7200.11, while Samsung is launching its SpinPoint F1. Each formerly had 167 GB per platter and we now make the transition to 250 and 333 GB, respectively, allowing these two manufacturers to make 500 GB hard drives with two platters. For Samsung there will be single sided use. This should allow price reductions to continue with 500 GB priced at around 70 € next year. The only thing is that announcements aren’t synonymous with availability and we will have to wait a little before seeing these products in stores.

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