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2 TB duel: Seagate Barracuda LP vs Western Caviar Green
by Marc Prieur
Published on October 25, 2009

Hitachi were the first to launch a hard drive with a 1 TB capacity back at the beginning of 2007: the 7K1000. At the time, this drive used five 200 GB platters, the whole drive running at 7200 rpm. Since then, perpendicular writing technology has made so much progress that both Western and Seagate have launched 2 TB drives!

To reach such a capacity, both manufacturers have gone for a 4 platter architecture, each platter at 500 GB. Western were the first to announce such a drive, the Caviar Green WD20EADS. Launched in january 2009, it has long held the uncontested record in its category. This didn’t take into account the new range launched by Seagate in April, the Barracuda LP, which had the same capacity.
5900 rpm vs IntelliPower
Whether they be stamped Western or Seagate, 2 TB drives use lower rotation speeds than the standard 7200 rpm. Western was the first to relaunch lower speeds in its Green range, followed by Samsung – who have limited themselves to 1.5 TB for the moment – and now Seagate.

The only problem is that Western is still not communicating on the rotation speed of its platters: although we understood the rationale behind this policy at first, now that other manufacturers have followed suit, why keep it a secret? We now only know that the Caviar Greens have IntelliPower technology, which is, I quote, “An excellent compromise between rotation speed, transfer speed and cache size resulting in significant energy savings and exceptional performance.” In practice, rotation speed is around 5400 tpm.

In contrast Seagate has no qualms about revealing the rotation speed of its Barracuda LPs: 5900 rpm. This rotation speed is unusual compared to what we’re used to: 5400 rpm and 7200 rpm. But why not?
Perfect for some uses
5400/5900 rpm drives are a good choice for several types of usage. The first, of course is for a machine that doesn’t need the highest performance but a significant storage capacity and good environmental spec, such as a PC Home Cinema. But they will also serve well in an NAS.

They also have their place within a high-performance PC, as a secondary storage facility. You could for example use a VelociRaptor, or even an SSD, for your everyday applications and a 5400 rpm for your data: your holiday Blu-ray and the 100 daily photos of your youngest can easily be stored here!

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