We’ve never done a review of a single hard disk before but this Hitachi drive justifies the attention. It’s the first 500GB disk drive to hit the shelves. That’s half a Terabyte in a single drive. Blimey! Hitachi has got its drive to market ahead of the likes of Maxtor and Seagate who have announced drives but not yet shipped them.
Hitachi hasn’t been very subtle in the method that it’s used to achieve the landmark figure but instead has ganged up five platters and ten heads to achieve the 500GB, which tells us that each platter has a 100GB capacity. That’s a surprisingly low areal density when you consider that Samsung’s new SP2504C gets its 250GB capacity from a two platter/four head design. Hitachi has form in this respect as it released the five-platter 75GXP back in the days when it sold hard drives under the IBM brand and more recently it also used five platters in the 400GB 7K400.
The result is a drive that looks very conventional from the outside. Should you be interested in such minutiae it weighs in at 692g, compared to 618g for the Samsung SP2504C. Hitachi has released the 7K500 in both SATA and PATA forms and, as you would expect, the two drives are fundamentally similar. They both have a rotational speed of 7,200rpm but the PATA drive has 8MB of cache compared to 16MB for the SATA model, and nominally the SATA drive has a much faster interface as it’s SATA-II and rated at 3GB/sec compared to ATA133. We can argue about the figures all day long but we all know that a single drive doesn’t stress a 100MB/second interface so the benefit over ATA133 is merely theoretical. The business of switching to a GB/second rating (bits instead of bytes) for SATA is frankly annoying as there are eight bits in a byte yet every manufacturer is using a multiple of ten so 150MB/second became 1.5GB/second instead of 1.2GB/second.