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No shoes for little Timmy, Mama needs a new 10TB hard drive

Small, large, fast and slow – take your pick from Seagate's latest range

By Chris Mellor, 19 Oct 2016

Seagate has announced six new Guardian Series disk drives for internal use in portables, desktops and gaming rigs, with BarraCuda and FireCuda branding and a variety of form factors.

Here is the product list:

  • 2.5-inch
    • BarraCuda 7mm thick with 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities
    • BarraCuda 15mm thick with 3TB, 4TB and 5TB capacities
    • FireCuda with 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacity levels and 8GB NAND cache
  • 3.5-inch
    • BarraCuda with 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB capacities
    • BarraCuda Pro with 6TB, 8TB and 10TB capacities
    • FireCuda with 1TB and 2TB capacity and the 8GB NAND cache

The 7mm 2.5-inch drives are for standard laptop drive bays, while the 15mm ones are for desktops. We're led to believe that these thicker, higher-capacity 2.5‑inch drives will feature in upcoming external storage products.

Seagate says all disk drives in the BarraCuda family have Multi-Tier Caching Technology (MTC) to speed data reads and writes. This uses a hierarchy of NAND Flash, DRAM and media cache technologies to optimise the data flow.

Apparently the drives have new firmware that checks how data accesses are operating and spins the platters down when it can, to reduce power consumption without affecting performance. This might seem of not that much consequence to consumers and small businesses, but it matters more to larger businesses with bigger electricity bills.

The 2.5‑inch BarraCudas spin at 5,400rpm, have a 6Gbit/s SATA interface, transfer data at up to 140MB/sec and come with a 2‑year limited warranty. Get a PDF data sheet here. The 7mm thick 2.5‑inch drive has two platters, and the 15mm model has five 1TB platters.

The 3.5-inch BarraCudas and BarraCuda Pros are faster, spinning at 7,200rpm, and have a longer, 5‑year warranty. Seagate claims the BarraCuda Pro is the fastest 10TB desktop drive available.

The 500GB – 4TB BarraCudas have 1, 2 or 3 1TB platters, a 64MB cache and 55TB/year workload rate limit. The highest sustained transfer rate is 210MB/sec (180MB/sec for the 4TB model). Get a PDF data sheet here.

BarraCuda Pros have either 6 platters (6TB and 8TB) or 7 (10TB). Their maximum sustained transfer rate from the data sheet [PDF] is 210MB/sec, while the workload rate limit is 300TB/year.

The FireCuda 2.5-inch accelerated drives can be viewed as 7mm BarraCudas with added 8GB cache. Their sustained transfer rate is the same as the BarraCuda; 140MB/sec, though. Seagate isn't revealing the spin speed in the data sheet [PDF], but we figure it's 5,400rpm again.

Sticking these FireCudas in a 3.5‑inch case gets you a 7,200rpm spin speed and a 210MB/sec sustained transfer rate.

FireCudas have a 5‑year warranty and, like the BarraCudas, use MTC to speed their operation. They are not given a workload rate limit by Seagate.

FireCuda drives operate in the performance gap between basic disk drives and SSDs. We can't expect them to get significantly faster, particularly as the per‑GB cost of flash is dropping with 3D TLC NAND. ®

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