Unsung Heroes: 14 Years of Hard Drive Performance

Unsung Heroes: 14 Years of Hard Drive Performance

When the likes of WD or Seagate launch a new hard drive, the product is hailed as a more efficient means of storing data. Useful? Very. High class or sexy? Not so much. You've got to admit that hard drives have gotten a bum rap. Granted, they're still the slowest part of the system, but HDD manufacturers deserve a bit more credit than they typically get.

We decided to take a look at how standard, spinning hard drive performance has evolved over the past 14 years. We rounded up a representative group of hard drives, formatted them, scanned them for bad sectors, and ran a few modern benchmarks to see how much performance has improved.

Unsung Heroes: 14 Years of Hard Drive Performance

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Just wanted to let you know that on the first page where you compare the cost and cost/GB you switched the values for the 300gb velociraptor, it should be $300 / $1 not $1 / $300

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Thanks Gunny. Fixed that.

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Lol, Some time ago, I thought that HDD's would just spin faster with every generation to keep up; look how wrong I was.

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MrBrownSound:
Lol, Some time ago, I thought that HDD's would just spin faster with every generation to keep up; look how wrong I was.

There are lots of ideas and solutions floating around out there. Some never make it to the manufacturing stage for many reasons, others do.

Many of the new ideas that I see are good ones and are far-fetched enough to be elegant solutions if they work out. I didn't expect to see solid state SATA drives, but here they are in all of their glory.

Now they're moving them onto the PCI-E bus to enhance performance further. (these are incredibly fast, and expensive too)

I wonder when we'll see Solid State storage built-into motherboards? (along with powerful graphics capabilities) Remember that IO was usually plugged in to PC's a short time ago, and now it's all built-in to every board that's sold. (it's just a matter of time) I think that the only thing keeping discrete Video Cards going is the Gaming industry. (things such as watching a movie on a PC can be done with inexpensive built-in video these days) How long will it be before we see on-board graphics slay our games with impunity?

Another example of slick thinking is the 'Hybrid Drive' that Seagate has released, and I will be trying one of them out soon. 4GB of it's capacity is Flash memory and the rest is a 7200 RPM traditional platter drive. This drive 'learns' what programs you use the most and transfers those to the flash portion to improve your system's speed over time. It gets faster with use. They're not asking a small fortune for it either. ($129.00 at NewEgg)

Sometimes technology is like riding a bike with crappy brakes down a huge hill, eventually, you only slow for the big bumps.


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RealNeil,

I don't know if it'll ever make sense to build solid state storage on a motherboard. If the flash fails, for whatever reason, you'd have to replace the board--something motherboard companies aren't going to want to tackle. Furthermore, the RAM would have to be integrated into current memory hierarchy in a way that made it useful. This is something Microsoft tried to do with Robson back in Vista; testing indicates that even new implementations of the concept, like Seagate's HHD, are hit and miss.

You could think about this concept as similar to the idea of building cache on the motherboard. Back in the Super Socket 7 era, a number of boards included a 128K-256K of "backside" cache that was treated as either L3 or L4 depending on the CPU in use. The reason this fell out of favor is that it became possible to integrate the cache into CPU cores at significantly lower latency and faster transfer rates.

In a lot of ways the discrete card shift you're talking about has already happened. Something like 96% of all computers are sold with integrated graphics.

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