Samsung P120 200 + 250 GB Hard Drive

Storage
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July 14, 2005 by Devon Cooke

Product
Samsung SpinPoint P120 SP2004C
200GB, 7200 RPM SATA Hard drive
Manufacturer
Samsung
Market Price
~US$110

Jan 30, 2006 POSTSCRIPT: SP2504C 250GB HDD

Samsung's SpinPoint P80 line of hard drives has been an SPCR favorite for some time now, but of late it has been looking a bit long in tooth. The maximum capacity of the P80 series — 160 GB — doesn't compare to the 300, 400, and even 500 GB models available from other manufacturers. The limited capacity is a function of platter density; the 80 GB platters that the P80 is based on are quickly becoming obsolete as the industry embraces higher areal densities.

The P120 series, which pushes the maximum capacity to 250 GB, is a welcome addition to Samsung's hard drive offerings. At present, only the 200GB model appears to be in widespread circulation, but hopefully the larger model should become more readily available soon. Although the primary model is meant to be the SATA-II version, a PATA version is also available (and for $20 cheaper).

The real question, though, is not whether the drive can deliver more capacity but whether it can do so at the same level of noise we have come to expect from Samsung's older drives.


From the outside, the P120 looks no different from the older P80 line.

SAMSUNG SPINPOINT P120 SP2004C (from Samsung's web site)
FEATURE & BRIEF COMMENT

100GB/125GB Formatted Capacity Per Disk

No, that's not a misprint. "Disk" is a more proper term for what is often called a "platter". These listed disk capacities suggest that both the 200 and 250 GB models have two platters.

Serial ATA 3.0 Gbps Interface Support

Also known as SATA-II.

SATA Native Command Queuing Feature Set

Included in the support for SATA 3.0 Gbps.

Device Initiated SATA Power Management

Sounds interesting, but no details are given.
Staggered Spin-up Support Another SATA feature; for use in RAID.

High Speed Dual Digital Signal Processor (DSP) Based Architecture

A long-time feature that shows up even on Samsung's 5,400 RPM models.

ATA S.M.A.R.T. Compliant

Standard.

ATA Automatic Acoustic Management Feature Set

Crucial for reducing seek noise.
ATA 48-bit Address Feature Set Required to support high capacities.
ATA Streaming Feature Set (Optional) AKA ATA-7. Most useful for use in stand-alone applications, such as DVRs.
ATA Device Configuration Overlay Feature Set Used for modifying the apparent features supported by the drive, for security or information hiding purposes.
NoiseGuard™ A series of technical improvements that Samsung has decided to trademark as being good for drive noise.
SilentSeek™ Supposedly different from AAM, although from the marketing description it seems to work in the same way. Samsung claims it does not impact performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

The specifications below are specific to the model that we examined. Capacity, cache size, platter number, interface, and even performance vary from model to model even within a single product line. Acoustics and power dissipation also vary depending on the number of platters in the drive; smaller capacity drives tend to have fewer platters, and tend to produce less noise and use less power.

There was some confusion determining the number of platters. The Samsung USA web site lists the SP2004C as a single platter, which is implausible given that current drive technology tops out at around 133 GB / platter. A call to their customer service served to confuse the matter even further: I was told that SATA technology had made platters (and read/write heads) obsolete, proving that my question had not been properly understood.

It is most likely that both the 200 and 250 GB models have two platters apiece. The formatted capacity per disk is listed (in the features, not the specifications) as either 100 or 125 GB, which corresponds to exactly half the capacity of the two models. This means that the difference between the two drives is not the number of platters or heads, but the data capacity of the platters themselves. .

HDD Model
Samsung SpinPoint P120 SP2004C
Capacity
200 GB
Cache
8 MB
Platters
2
Rotation Speed
7,200 RPM
Form Factor
3.5"
Interface
SATA 3.0 Gbps
Average Seek
8.9 ms
Start/Stop cycles (at 40°C)
50,000
Operating Temperature
0 - 60°C
Power Consumption: Idle / Seek
7.5 / 9.5 W
Acoustics: Idle / Seek
2.5 / 2.8 Bels



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