Samsung Spinpoint T Series: Successor to a Quiet Legacy

Storage
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September 4, 2006 by Devon Cooke

Product
Samsung Spinpoint T Series HD400LJ
400GB, 7,200 RPM Hard Drive
Manufacturer
Market Price
US$150~190

Until very recently, the only desktop drives that we recommended were made by Samsung. Samsung's Spinpoint P80 series established itself early on as a very quiet drive, and, with the retirement of Seagate's Barracuda IV and V, it was hands down the quietest drive for more than a year. Its successor, the Spinpoint P120 expanded the maximum capacity drive to 250 GB and was almost as quiet. However, its relatively low capacity and improved products from other drive manufacturers meant that it wasn't quite the runaway success that the P80 was.

Samsung's Spinpoint T Series pushes the maximum capacity to 400 GB, but it has been quite slow to reach the market. Although it is much larger than the P120 series, it is still smaller than the largest drives offered by other companies so it will not appeal to those who care primarily about storage space. On the other hand, it's not so small that it will exclude much of the market. If it can uphold Samsung's reputation for low noise, it should still find plenty of happy users. Not everyone needs half a terabyte of storage!

Samsung needs to do more than just maintain the standard that they set with the Spinpoint P80. Our recent look at Western Digital's flagship drive has raised the bar for what we expect from a quiet desktop drive. Samsung will be hard pressed to match the near inaudible seek noise of the Western Digital — especially if they are as sharp and sudden as they were in the P120 series.

Samsung Spinpoint T Series (quoted from Samsung's web site)
FEATURE & BRIEF COMMENT
Maximum 133GB formatted capacity per disk Larger than the 120 GB platters found in the P120, but smaller than the 160 GB platters that other manufacturers are using.
Bowl type architecture Quoting a recent press release: "The T133-Series moved from the traditional platter-type design to the bowl type design to improve shock & vibrational performance"
Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) motor technology Industry standard.
Low power seek control with PWM driver Low power... but lower than others?
Multi Sinusoidal Seek (MSS) algorithm A noise-reduction technique similar to AAM.
SMART Command Transport (SCT) feature Gives access to the drive's SMART data.
Adaptive error recovery algorithm We're glad there's some kind of error recovery... but this doesn't tell us what.
Auto-reassign of potential data error location Bad sectors get remapped to spare sectors.
ATA security Mode feature Allows the drive to be password protected.
ATA Host Protected Area feature Used to create "hidden" partitions.
ATA Automatic Acoustic Management feature AAM can be invaluable or useless depending on how well implemented it is.
ATA Device Configuration Overlay feature Yet another standard ATA feature.
Permuted RLL/ECC on-the-fly error correction More error correction.
ATA SMART Selective Self-test Allows failing drives to be detected in advance.
Device Initiated SATA power Management Reduces power consumption — by about half a watt.
RoHS compliant Required in the EU.
NoiseGuard ™ Noise damping and increased rigidity in the frame.
SilentSeek ™ See MSS algorithm above.
ImpacGuard ™ Shock resistance.

SPECIFICATIONS

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 power.

Specifications: Samsung HD400LJ
(from Samsung's web site)
Capacity
400 GB
Cache
8 MB
Platters
3
Interface Serial ATA II 3.0 Gbps
Spindle Rotation Speed
7,200 RPM
Latency
4.17 ms
Average / Full Stroke Seek
8.9 ms / 18 ms
Media To / From Buffer Transfer Rate
400 / 1000 Mbit/sec
Weight
651 g
Operating Temperature
0 - 60¬įC
Power Requirements: Idle / Seek
8.4 / 10.5 W
Acoustics: Idle / Seek
2.7 / 2.9 Bel


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