Seagate’s Cheetah adds new spots

13 01 2009

By Chris Mellor 

While coping with the executive disarray of changing its CEO and COO, Seagate has also found time to announce a couple of new disk drives – an 800GB Cheetah 15K drive along with a new 10K rpm version.

Cheetah drives are Seagate’s mainstream 3.5-inch business drives, spinning at 10,000 and 15,000 rpm [10K, 15K] compared to the more capacious Barracudas spinning at 7,200rpm.

Seagate is engaged in a bit of across-the-board capacity upgrading as the Barracuda has just received a capacity boost with a 500GB 2-platter model announced and an implied 2TM model on the way to replace the existing 1.5TB product.

The Cheetah 15K.6 is the 6th generation Cheetah, spinning at 15K and offering 147, 300 or 450GB capacity accessed through 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel (FC) or 3Gbit/s SAS. It also has a full disk encryption (FDE) option. The Cheetah NS spins at 10K, offers the same interfaces and capacities of 300 or 400GB. This product is optimised for lower power-consumption. Seagate punts it for NAS and direct-attached strage needs with the 15K positioned for NAS and SAn use.

There is a second generation NS product coming, the NS.2, and a seventh generation Cheetah 15K.7. Both will offer increased capacity, up to 600GB. Both get a faster SAS II interface running at 6Gbit/s. The NS.2 gets PowerTrim technology from the Cheetah 15K line which is claimed to reduce the power draw by up to 20 per cent compared to the previous NS product. It also gets the encryption option as Seagate tries to maximise its sales appeal.

Seagate expects 3.5-inch enterprise drives to have roughly 45 per cent of the enterprise market in 2009, down from the slightly more than half they claimed in 2008. There will be a fairly steep decline in 3.5-inch enterprise shipments in 2010 as customers adopt smaller 2.5-inch drives which offer more IOPS from a drive shelf. Seagate thinks this will be the year that enterprises take more 2.5-inch than 3.5-inch drives.

This is consequent on storage array vendors adopting them. It seems likely that they will be offering roughly equivalent capacities per drive to today’s 3.5-inch drives by then which would help.

The 3.5-inch drive enterprise market will then continue to decline in 2011 and 2012 after which it may well disappear.

Will we see short-stroked 2.5-inch drives? That’s a tactic used to speed disk I/O by only putting data on the fastest-accessed tracks. If it is done then it drives up the cost/GB and narrows the price gap between 2.5-inch HDDs and 2.5-inch solid state drives (SSDs).

The Cheetah NS.2 is said to be becoming available this week with the 15K.7 shipping to the channel next quarter. Seagate has not released any pricing information.

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