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Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1TB Hard Drive
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Date: Mar 06, 2008
Section:Storage
Author: Shane Unrein
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Introduction, Features and Specs

A few months ago, we evaluated the 1-terabyte (TB) Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 SATA hard drive. We found the drive to offer many positive features in addition to its massive capacity. In this article, we'll be looking at Seagate's flagship enterprise-class, mass storage solution, the 1TB Barracuda ES.2 SATA hard drive.

While the Barracuda 7200.11 and ES.2 are almost identical drives, there are some important differences to highlight between them. For instance, the 7200.11 has a mean time between failure (MTBF) rating of 750,000 hours while the ES.2 boasts a superior and more server-oriented MTBF of 1.2 million hours. Essentially, this means the ES.2 should be a more reliable drive that is less likely to fail. Additionally, the ES.2 is designed with a much higher rotational vibration tolerance than the 7200.11, which is necessary for the ES.2 to maintain optimal performance when it is next to a bunch of other drives in large storage arrays in server racks.

Seagate is very proud of the Barracuda ES.2 line, so we thought we'd share the company's own thoughts about the drives:

The Barracuda ES.2 drive is the perfect solution for high-capacity enterprise storage applications such as the migration of mission-critical transactional data, from tier 1 to tier 2 (nearline) storage, where dollars/GB and GB/watt are a primary concern. With energy-saving PowerTrim features, superior rotational vibration tolerance and a choice of SATA or SAS interfaces, the Barracuda ES.2 drive provides world-leading technology and value.

To see just how well the 1TB Barracuda ES.2 drive performs, we will be comparing it to several other 7,200 RPM large capacity drives and one 10,000 RPM drive. Before we get to that though, let's take a look at the 1TB Barracuda ES.2's specifications and features.



 

Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1TB SATA HDD (Model # ST31000340NS)
Specifications & Features
PHYSICAL SPECS
Capacity: 1 TB (1000 GB)
Interface: SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Speed: 7200 RPM
Cache Buffer: 32 MB
Number Of Platters: 4 (250 GB each)
Bytes Per Sector: 512
Height: 26.11 mm
Length: 146.99 mm
Width: 101.6 mm
Weight: 0.530 kg

PERFORMANCE SPECS
Seek Times
Average Read/Write (msec): 8.5/9.5
Track-to-Track Read/Write (msec): 0.8/1.0

Latency

Average Latency (msec): 4.16

Transfer Rate

Maximum Internal (Mb/s): 1287
Maximum Sustained (MB/s): 105

Environmental

Acoustics Idle (bels—sound power): 2.7
Rotational Vibration @ 1500 Hz max (Rad/sec2): 12.5

Reliability/Data Integrity

Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours): 1.2 million
Reliability Rating at Full 24x7 Operation (AFR): 0.73%
Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read: 1 sector per 10E15
Error Control/Correction (ECC): 10 bit
Limited Warranty (years): 5

Power Requirements

Typical: 11.6 watts
Idle Average: 8.0 watts

FEATURES
  • Perpendicular recording technology for maximum capacity
  • 24x7 operation and 1.2 M hrs. MTBF
  • Dynamic power saving using Seagate PowerTrim™ technology
  • Broad spectrum rotational vibration tolerance at 12.5 rads/s2
  • Error recovery control - quick error resolution to prevent system timeouts
  • Workload management to ensure operational reliability
  • Quick and robust download with firmware security checks
  • Write Same command for efficient RAID initialization
  • Idle Read After Write data integrity checking
  • 32-MB cache
  • Low total cost of ownership
  • 5-year limited warranty




     


     


As you probably expected, the Barracuda ES.2 is a normal looking drive despite its large 1TB capacity and enterprise-class status. In the images above and the image below, you can see that the connectors are limited to the essential SATA data and power connectors.

 



You may also have noticed four pins to the right of the data connector in the picture above. The jumper was removed before these shots were taken, but the drive comes with a small, half-height jumper installed on two of the pins (we would prefer to see a full-size jumper since the half-height one is somewhat difficult to remove). The jumper placement determines whether the drive operates at 1.5 Gb/s or 3.0 Gb/s (as shown on the drive in the picture of the label above). If you have an older motherboard that does not include support for SATA 3.0 Gb/s, then you should go ahead and keep the jumper installed to ensure compatibility. Otherwise, you will want to remove the jumper to maximize performance.

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Test System and HD Tach Test Results

For testing the 1TB Barracuda ES.2 SATA HDD, we used an Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13GHz) on an Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI motherboard. We also used 2GB of Corsair DDR2 (TWIN2X1024A-5400UL) and a 120GB Maxtor SATA hard drive as the main system drive. The 1TB Barracuda ES.2 was compared to a 750GB Seagate 7200.10, a 750GB Western Digital Caviar SE16, a 500GB Western Digital Caviar SE16, and a 74GB Western Digital Raptor.
 

HotHardware Test System
Intel C2D Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13GHz)

Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9 SLI
nForce 650i SLI chipset

ATI Radeon HD 3850

2048MB Corsair XMS2 DDR2-675MHz
CAS 4

Integrated on board

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9

120GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 1.5Gb/s

Seagate Barracuda ES.2
1TB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10
750GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000KS
500GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS
750GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Raptor 74GB
74GB - 10,000RPM - SATA 1.5Gb/s

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows Vista
nForce Drivers v8.43
DirectX 10

ATI Catalyst v7.11


Benchmarks Used:
HD Tach 3.0.1.0
HD Tune 2.54
PCMark Vantage
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP1


We began our testing with Simpli Software's HD Tach, which is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device possible."
 

HD Tach 3.0.1.0
http://www.simplisoftware.com/

Amongst the 7,200 RPM drives, the Barracuda ES.2 dominates in the HD Tach tests, especially the Average Read test. From our previous testing in Windows XP, the 750GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 proved to be an awesome performer, and we were wondering what drive may dethrone it. It looks like the Barracuda ES.2 might be that drive. Although the Barracuda ES.2 couldn't quite reach the write performance or Random Access Time of the 10,000 RPM 74GB Raptor, it did outperform it in the Average Read test by over 20 MB/s.

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HD Tune Test Results


HD Tune is a low level hard drive benchmark that provides read performance data, detailed information about the disk and its health (via S.M.A.R.T.), and also offers and error scan option.


HD Tune 2.54
http://www.hdtune.com/

The Barracuda ES.2 continues its dominance in the HD Tune tests. We are most impressed with the Average Transfer Rate test, in which the Barracuda ES.2 tears through the rest of the test drives and beats them all by over 15 MB/s. As expected, none of the 7,200 RPM drives, including the Barracuda ES.2, can touch the Raptor when it comes to Random Access Time.

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PCMark Vantage Test Results

Next up is PCMark Vantage from FutureMark Corp. We specifically used only the HDD Test module of this benchmark suite to evaluate all the drives we tested versus the new 1TB Barracuda ES.2. Feel free to consult Futuremark's white paper on PCMark Vantage for an understanding of what each test component entails and how it calculates its measurements.
 

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage
http://www.futuremark.com

If we look at the overall HDD score from PCMark Vantage, it looks like the Barracuda ES.2 doesn't maintain the dominance it enjoyed in HD Tach and HD Tune. As you can see above and on the following page, the Barracuda ES.2 manages to perform better than all the other drives in only two of the individual PCMark Vantage tests (Gaming and Importing Pics to Windows Photo Gallery).

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PCMark Vantage Test Results (continued)


We continued our testing of the Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1TB hard drive with a few more tests that are part of the PCMark Vantage benchmark suite.


Futuremark's PCMark Vantage (continued)
http://www.futuremark.com

The results from the five individual PCMark Vantage tests shown above reveal that the Barracuda ES.2 couldn't quite keep up with either of the two 750GB test drives (the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 and the Western Digial Caviar SE16), which matches what we saw in the overall HDD score.

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Sandra Test Results

For our Sandra XII SP1 testing, we ran two sets of tests: Physical Disk and File System. We ran the Physical Disk tests before formatting the test drives, but we had to format the drives in order to run the File System tests. The results from this testing can be seen on this and the following page.
 

SiSoftware Sandra XII SP1
http://www.sisoftware.net

In the Physical Disk tests, the Barracuda ES.2 regains the dominance it showed us in the HD Tach and HD Tune testing. It outshines all of the other 7,200 RPM drives in both the Read and Write Index results. The 74GB Raptor barely beats the Barracuda ES.2 in the Write test while it didn't even come close to the Barracuda ES.2 in the Read score. In addition to posting impressive Read and Write Index scores, the Barracuda ES.2 scores quite well in the Random Access Time portion of this test as well.

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Sandra Test Results (continued)


Our SiSoft SANDRA testing continues below...


SiSoftware Sandra XII SP1 (continued)
http://www.sisoftware.net

The Barracuda ES.2's Sandra File System Drive Index is pretty impressive at 81.49 MB/s (as shown in the first chart above). Additionally, the Sequential Read, Random Read, and Sequential Write Rates of the Barracuda ES.2 are higher than any of the other drives' results. The Barracuda ES.2's Randrom Write score was the lowest of the test drives, though. Although we put more weight in the Sequential and Random Read and Write scores, we were somewhat baffled (and disappointed) by the Barracuda ES.2's poor Buffered Read and Write scores. It's not clean as to what caused this dip in performance, but we will be sure to let you know when we have more information.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion



Performance Summary:
The Seagate Barracuda ES.2 1TB drive generally performed well, with a few exceptions.  The Barracuda ES.2's HD Tach, HD Tune, and most of the Sandra results were impressive in light of the competition. But the drive's PCMark Vantage results and the Sandra Sequential and Random Read and Write scores, on the other hand, left something to be desired.
 


 


Although the Barracuda ES.2 generally offers excellent performance overall, this drive is first and foremost a giant when it comes to storage capacity. Recall that the Barracuda ES.2 is an enterprise-class drive intended for installations where reliability is the top priority. If reliability and massive storage are a must, such as in a file or backup server, then we would definitely take a close look at the 1TB Barracuda ES.2. Drives of this size may seem like overkill to many of you, but they are quite handy if you are stuck in a situation where you have to maximize storage capacity while minimizing space.

As you may have expected, the 1TB Barracuda ES.2 doesn't come cheap. At approximately $310 at the time of this writing, it actually costs about $40 more than its 7200.11 brother, which as we pointed out before, is almost the same drive. When installing drives in a demanding server environment, though, the ES.2's much higher MTBF rating (1.2 million hours versus 750,000 for the 7200.11) and higher rotational vibration tolerance are more meaningful and help justify the extra cost. One thing that both the ES.2 and the 7200.11 offer that is better than thier competition is a 5-year warranty. Kudos to Seagate for that.

Seagate has many great storage lines, and the Barracuda ES.2 appears to be another that the company can proudly add to the list. The 1TB Barracuda ES.2 proved to be an excellent performer when compared to our other test drives. In addition to running relatively quietly, it boasts a 32MB cache, an impressive 1.2 million hour MTBF, an excellent rotational vibration tolerance, error recovery control, and an industry-leading 5-year warranty.

We want to share a few extra thoughts and notes about the 1TB Barracuda ES.2 before we close out this article, however. If you don't specifically require the high MTBF rating of the ES.2 drive, but still want excellent performance and Seagate's 5-year warranty, we'd strongly recommend opting for the 1TB 7200.11.  Although we were not able to make the direct comparison on the same system in our labs, the 1TB 7200.11 drive reportedly outperforms the 1TB ES.2 in many benchmarks, which is unexpected considering that the foundation for the two drives is similar. Additionally, we have seen some reports of 1TB Barracuda ES.2 drives failing and arriving DOA.  We have had a positive experience so far with the 1TB ES.2 (firmware version SN03), but we felt it prudent to provide a few words of caution and bring to your attention some of the other information we have seen. We always encourage our readers to do thorough research before making any purchase.


•  High capacity
•  Strong performance
•  32MB of cache
•  5-year warranty

•  Expensive
•  Small jumper is a pain to remove



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