Seagate Barracuda 3TB 7200RPM HD Review

A Closer Look

There are several technologies underpinning the Barracuda 3TB, and we’ll look at each one in turn.

We’ve previously told you about SmartAlign, but here’s a recap. As 4096 byte-sized sectors supplant 512-byte sectors industry-wide and enable higher-capacity drives with better error correction at lower prices, the tradeoff is that there can be some performance issues caused by misaligned hard drive partitions.

Seagate developed SmartAlign to deal with the issue. SmartAlign is firmware that automatically, without user intervention, takes care of the misalignments without negatively impacting the hard drive’s performance.

Seagate’s AcuTrac technology is an attempt to solve a few problems pertaining to storage density and reliability. In brief, areal density is how close each individual bit of data, recorded on magnetic particles, is to its neighbors. Engineers figured out a way to stand those magnetic particles perpendicular to the platters to increase bits per inch (BPI, a measure of areal density) and thus increase per-platter density. Track density is another measure of areal density, and it’s measured in tracks per inch (TPI), or how close together the concentric circles (the tracks in which drives store data) on a platter are.

Increasing both BPI and TPI to increase storage capacities were becoming an engineering problem, and in response, Seagate developed its AcuTrac technology.

With AcuTrac, Seagate has boosted its TPI from 250,000 to 340,000, making each track on a 3.5-inch disk just 75nm wide. AcuTrac technology also includes a better way to position the drive head to more accurately focus on the smaller tracks.

OptiCache and DiscWizard
The large 64MB DDR2 SDRAM cache on this drive isn’t the end of the story in terms of cache-related performance. Seagate also built in OptiCache technology, which is designed to increase performance by up to 45% over past generations of drives by taking advantage of the cache, along with a new 40nm optimized controller and processor.

There’s also the included DiscWizard software, which simply enables older (and newer) systems without a UEFI BIOS, including Windows XP, to natively access all 3TB of the drive’s capacity. Not everyone will need DiscWizard, but it’s good to have on hand just in case.

Finally, here's a comprehensive list of the drive’s specifications.

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