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June 5, 2006 by Devon
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3750640AS
750GB, 7,200 RPM Hard Drive
Seagate keeps churning out new drives with ever-higher capacity. It's been
only half a year since we reviewed
the massive 500 GB Barracuda 7200.9, but even that milestone has now passed
to make room for the Barracuda 7200.10. Seagate has boosted capacity
by 50% in just six short months. The result is a drive that boasts 750 GB of
capacity (698 GB when the operating system is counting) and increased performance
The basis for this surge in capacity is a technology called perpendicular
recording that increases data density. Seagate has already debuted a notebook
drive that uses perpendicular recording; the Momentus 5400.3 pushed the record
capacity for notebook drives to 160 GB when we
reviewed it in February. A more complete description of perpendicular recording
can be found in that review.
The 7200.10 encompasses a wide range of models for the retail market. Aside from
the flagship 750 GB drive, there are five other capacities available, down to
a minimum of 200 GB. With a variety of cache sizes in both SATA and PATA flavors,
the number of different models adds up quickly: There are a total of 14 different
7200.10 models. Unfortunately, none of the 14 models is a single platter design,
so the 160 GB Barracuda 7200.9
is still the largest single platter drive that we know of.
|Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (quoted from Seagate's
|FEATURE & BRIEF
| The highest available
capacity up to 750GB reduces system repairs and storage
|| A new high
water mark... but for how long?
shopping with a broad range of capacity, cache and interface options
biggest drive company can afford to produce lots of different variations.
environmental specification and reliability features
| New perpendicular
recording technology enables higher areal density, fewer moving parts
and increased dependability.
Fly Height offers consistent read/write performance from the beginning
to the end of your computing workload.
this feature on trousers for ages <ahem>.
| Clean Sweep
automatically calibrates your drive.
it does is not clear, but the feature has been around since at least the
Offline Scan runs diagnostics when storage access is not needed.
potentially bad sectors to improve reliability.
| RoHS Directive-compliant
design assures you an environmentally conscious product.
and environmentally friendly. And approved for sale in the EU.
| Enhanced G-Force
Protection defends against handling damage.
are hard to come by.
| Seagate SoftSonic
motor enables whisper-quiet operation.
Seagate feature; this one since the Barracuda IV.
| Backed by an
unprecedented five-year warranty.
only by Seagate's own drives.
The specifications below are specific to 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
Specifications: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (from
| Spindle Rotation Speed
SATA 3.0 Gb/s NCQ
| Annualized Failure Rate (AFR)
| Operating Temperature
0 - 60¬įC
| Power Dissipation: Idle / Seek /
9.3 / 12.6 / 13.0 W
| Acoustics: Idle / Seek
2.7 / 3.0 Bels
Seagate's specifications keep the actual performance of the drive a bit of
a mystery. Only the most basic, easily verifiable performance attributes are
specified, such as the interface speed, cache size and rotation speed. More
variable characteristics, such as average seek times and average media transfer
speed are conspicuously absent.
Although it is hard to imagine, withholding the performance information may
actually be the most truthful way of putting things. Although easy to understand
and compare, examining "average" performance is a very simplistic
way of looking at drive performance. Actual seek times and transfer speeds vary
widely even within a single drive depending on where the data is located and
how it is being accessed.
By not declaring the usual performance specifications, Seagate is doing three
- They are making it impossible to directly compare the 7200.10 with other
drives on the basis of specifications alone. This is a good thing, as it means
that those who are interested are more likely to dig a little
deeper when trying to gauge performance.
- They are discounting the relative importance of drive performance. Noise
and power dissipation are considered important enough to declare publicly;
average seek time is not.
- They may be hiding the information because the precise numbers would make
the 7200.10 look bad. However, other early reviews of the 750 GB model suggest that
this is probably not the case.
Only the label marks it as a 7200.10.
The logic board is almost identical to Seagate's earlier drives.
Physically, there is very little to distinguish the 7200.10 from Seagate's
other desktop drives. Seagate has decided to differentiate it in other ways. For
example, the marketing brochure for the 7200.10 makes reference to three unfamiliar
technologies that are designed to improve reliability: Clean Sweep, Adaptive
Fly Height, and Directed Offline Scan.
Unfortunately, Seagate does not provide more than a two line description for
any of them, and technical information is difficult to find. We were a little
concerned about Directed Offline Scan, which "runs diagnostics when storage
access is not required". This poses an obvious question to for low noise
enthusiasts: Are the diagnostics audible? A disc-wide scan in particular could
produce seek noise when the drive should otherwise be idling.
To answer this question, we contacted Michael Hall at Seagate, who responded
that the feature did not affect drive noise. Furthermore, the feature has been
included on Seagate drives for about four years, which means his claim is quite
simple to confirm. Unfortunately, a
number of SPCR forum dwellers have noticed this feature making noise
in the past, decribing the sound as a buzz that occurs when after the drive
has been idle for a while. We did not encounter this noise on our sample during
Clean Sweep is no better explained, but is unlikely to cause undue noise. It
is intended to reduce wear on the discs and head crashes, and functions by sweeping
the read/write head across the discs when the drive is spinning up. It has been
a feature of Seagate's drives since at least the 7200.8, as attested by several
Adaptive Fly Height seems like an odd feature to advertise, since fly height
is adaptive by its very nature: The drive's read/write heads float on a cushion
of air that keeps them at a constant distance from the surface of the disc regardless
of any imperfections. Perhaps the feature is similar to Hitachi's
Thermal Fly-Height Control technology, which adjusts the fly height on the
basis of temperature.
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