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Hard Disks

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- 1 TB per platter from Samsung
- Western Digital buys Hitachi GST
- Seagate Barracuda XT 3 TB
- Tested: Samsung EcoGreen F4 2 TB
- Hitachi Ultrastar 7K3000
- Floods and hard drives, where we're at
- Seagate: 1 TB platters here, Green range stopped
- HDD roundup: eight 2 TB hard drives!
- 1 TB platter from Seagate
- Samsung’s HDD division going to Seagate!

 Floods and hard drives, where we're at
  Posted on 04/11/2011 at 10:19 by Marc
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Seagate has released some additional information on the impact of the floods in Thailand on the hard drive market. This natural disaster has also caused 420 deaths and counting.

Seagate says that while expected demand is likely to be in the order of 180 million units, only 110 to 120 million units are likely to be shipped. The company also says that manufacturers should be able to produce more drives for the first quarter of 2012 but that demand is likely to remain higher than production and will continue to result in higher pricing than normal. While Seagate says that the hard drive industry is likely to be affected for several quarters, we can expect things to get back to normal as of the second quarter 2012.

With respect to Seagate’s own production, it's factories were not affected themselves but capacity has been reduced because of problems sourcing hard drive parts. Seagate now expects to be able to ship between 41 and 45 million drives this quarter, which is at the lower end of its previous estimation of between 40 and 50 million (51 million last quarter). It’s expecting turnover of USD 2.6 to 2.7bn (USD 2.8bn last quarter) and a gross margin at the top of end of the 22% - 26% range (19.5% last quarter). Seagate says that its production capacity for the first quarter of 2012 will be 60 million drives, as long as the parts supply problems get sorted out by the end of December.

This higher gross margin is obviously due to price hikes linked to the shortage of drives, though manufacturer increases seem limited with the average price at USD 65.80 maximum, as against USD 54.90 last quarter. In comparison, prices in stores have tripled over the last few weeks, taking us back to the sort of price per GB we hadn’t seen since 2008!

There are many reasons for this difference, the first being that a good part of deliveries this quarter are going to OEMs at pricing that was negotiated before the price rises. Also, hard drive manufacturers naturally give preferential treatment to their big OEM customers over supply to wholesalers, which only exacerbates the difference between supply and demand and is causing the inflation we’re now seeing on the little amount of stock that remains. Finally, there's also the fact that the ‘grey market’, namely the surplus drives bought by OEMs and sold off at significant discount, isn’t as well supplied at the moment.

There is, of course, a knock-on effect further down the supply chain and laptop manufacturers in particular are starting to announce price increases little by little and even having problems with running out of stock.

So what’s to be done? With respect to additional hard drives, the wisest choice is obviously not to give in to the panic and simply to push back your purchases three to six months if possible, even if this means going through your drives and doing some housekeeping, a good habit that some of us have no doubt forgotten what with the ridiculously low prices in recent times. How can we complain about such an inconvenience in comparison to the cost to human life that the crisis has brought about on the other side of the planet?

Not all prices have yet gone up for desktops, laptops and so on and when they do, it will still be possible to make to with reduced storage capacity for a period, whether by retrieving a drive from an old machine or using an SSD instead while waiting for prices to come down for the acquisition of your secondary storage drive.

 Seagate: 1 TB platters here, Green range stopped
  Posted on 02/11/2011 at 11:21 by Marc
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Seagate has just announced a simplification of its range of 3"1/2 hard drives. The manufacturer has stopped its Green and XT ranges and will have just the Barracuda range going forward. The Greens have been definitively stopped but the XTs should be back sometime in the months to come as a hybrid 3"1/2 series.

Available in 250 GB to 3 TB versions, the Barracudas all have the same rotation speed (7200 rpm). The 250, 320 and 500 GB models have 16 MB of cache and access times of under 11ms for an average speed of 125 MB/s and a max of 144 MB/s. They use a single 500 GB platter.

The 750 GB, 1 TB, 1.5 TB, 2 TB and 3 TB versions all have 64 MB of cache, access times of under 8.5ms and average speeds of 156 MB/s and a max of 210 MB/s. Note the introduction of 1 TB platters, with notably just one platter used for the 1 TB drive (ST1000DM003) and three for the 3 TB version (SD3000DM001). Bizarrely, the 2 TB version (SD2000DM001) is announced as having the same level of performance, which leads one to think it uses two platters, but Seagate says that it uses three platters with both heads being used. The same goes for the 1.5 TB version that we expected to see in a two platter, three head version and which has in fact been announced as being a two platter, four head drive.

The end of the production of Barracuda Green 5900 rpm drives is slated for February and would seem to be going against the current trend towards drives with lower rotation speeds designed for storage. Seagate is highlighting the advantages of this simplification of its range in terms of reduced manufacturing costs, fewer references to manage for distribution lines and an easier choice for the consumer.

From our point of view, the fact that they are stopping this line isn’t really an issue as in our latest 2 TB drive roundup the Green range was measured as consuming only 2W less than the XT range and wasn't much better in terms of temperatures and noise either. Other so-called green drives did much better.

This reorganization of the Seagate range is however likely to have far less of an impact in the months to come than the consequences of the recent floods in Thailand. As you’re no doubt aware, hard drive production has been seriously affected and prices in shops have gone up by a factor of two to four times as a result of fears of a drought (of HDDs!) in the months to come.

 HDD roundup: eight 2 TB hard drives!
  Posted on 30/08/2011 at 00:01 by Damien
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2 TB hard drives currently offer the best capacity / price ratio, but which model should you go for? Hitachi, Samsung, Seagate and Western Digital take each other on in this 8 HDD comparative.

> HDD roundup: eight 2 TB hard drives!

 1 TB platter from Seagate
  Posted on 03/05/2011 at 18:17 by Guillaume
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Following the Samsung prototype at the latest CeBIT, Seagate has now announced that it is selling a 3.5 inch hard drive equipped with 1 TB platters.

The drive will first of all be included in Samsung’s range of external hard drives (the GoFlex range) with 3 TB models using just three platters (surface density of 625 Gb per square inch). A three platter Barracuda XT 3 TB is also likely to be launched, though no date has yet been given.

 Samsung’s HDD division going to Seagate!
  Posted on 19/04/2011 at 11:46 by Marc
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Seagate and Samsung have just announced that Seagate will be taking over Samsung’s hard drive division. To do this, Seagate will pay Samsung USD 1.375bn, half of which will be in shares. Samsung will then own around 9.6% of Seagate.

Indeed this agreement goes much further than the simple sale of Samsung’s HDD division because in addition the two companies have extended their cross-license agreement. At the same time, supply agreements have been signed defining the supply of Samsung flash memory to Seagate and the supply of Seagate hard drives to Samsung.

This sale comes following the announcement of the sale of Hitachi Storage to Western Digital in March. If you look at the iSuppli figures for the fourth quarter, Western and Hitachi make up 32% and 18% of the market share respectively, making for 50% in total. Seagate’s total market share was 29%, to which they are now adding Samsung’s 10%.

It remains to be seen who will make the best offer for the remaining 11%, which is held by Toshiba, who, to recap, bought the Fujitsu HDD division in 2009.

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