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Enterprise Computing: Seagate Announces new Constellation Hard Drives

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Seagate announced this week the release of their new Constellation hard drives. Compared to the Savvio range (which are high-performance, low form-factor), these drives are aimed at lower tier archiving solutions and will scale to 2TB.

I had a briefing on these drives a couple of weeks ago and there’s the usual capacity and performance increase metrics to drool over (let’s face it, who doesn’t want a 2TB drive), however, impressive as it is, pure capacity increases don’t cut it any more for me. What’s more relevant are the other less obvious features.
Power Reduction
With PowerTrim, Seagate are claiming a 2.8W consumption (idle) for the 2.5″ form-factor drive. This compares to 5.2W for the Savvio 10K 146GB – almost half. This reduction is relevant not just for the power saving, but for the benefits in reduced cooling requirements and consequently the ability to stack more of these drives in a small space.

Constellation also provides PowerChoice, which will allow drives to be progressively spun down to reduce power. I’ve included a couple of graphics courtesy of Seagate which show the benefits of the different power-down levels.

In a previous discussion with COPAN, they indicated to me that their power-down solution had seen an increase in the life of hard drives, so I would expect Constellation to see the same benefits, although Seagate haven’t indicated that.
Although encryption isn’t new, what’s good to see is that it is becoming a standard feature on enterprise drives and will be available on SAS Constellation drives later this year (Seagate Secure SED).
Security breaches are unacceptable; destroying soft-fail drives because they can’t be recycled with “sensitive” material on them is also irresponsible. Hopefully encryption can tackle both issues head-on.
So where and how will these drives be used? Well, I hope the major vendors are looking to bring out 2.5″ form-factor products and potentially blended products as well. It’s not unreasonable to expect these guys to be using 2.5″ drives to make their products lighter and more efficient. Also, for modular and monolithic arrays, exchangable canisters or enclosures could easily allow 2.5″ drives to be incorporated into existing hardware.
Oh and before anyone comments, yes I am aware that the “multiple supplier” argument will be used as an excuse not to adopt this technology…
Of course, we shouldn’t forget the underlying reason why we’ve reached the position of 2TB in a single drive – we are keeping too much data. We all need to pay as much attention to optimising our existing assets as we do to installing new and shiny ones.

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Administrator

    hi chris, im having a slow day as a result of my new daughter being nocturnal….. so hopefully i dont sound too dumb here. what do you mean when you say “multiple supplier” argument will be used as an excuse not to adopt this technology??


  • Chris M Evans


    I was meaning, array vendors will say that they can’t adopt a new HDD technology if only one disk vendor sells or makes it. They want multiple suppliers which dumb’s down the array vendors to using only the common features provided by more than one supplier.

    Hope you are managing some sleep!

  • http://media.seagate.com/center/storage-effect Pete Steege

    I like your point about multiple sourcing as a dumb-down influence. IT’s an appropriate and constant pressure on innovation.

    Seems to me though that its importance is directly proportional to how commoditized the product is. If a drive has true unique value, it gets some play even as a single source product. Second sources then are motivated to get in on it, and come in just in time for mainstream market adoption.

    That’s the hope at least!

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