The major feature of Seagate’s new Barracuda 7200.10 hard drive is the use of perpendicular recording technology that boosts the capacity of the drive by an impressive percentage. Perpendicular technology stands the particles of magnetic media on their end instead of laying them on their side. The result is a significant increase in areal density so we’ve leapt from the 500GB of the Barracuda 7200.9 to an enormous 750GB from the Barracuda 7200.10 family.
In other respects the 7200.10 is a conventional SATA300 hard drive, with a 7,200rpm spin speed and support for NCQ (Native Command Queuing) so we’re going to dwell on the areal density and 750GB capacity throughout this review.
There are six different capacities of drive in the 7200.10 range with a choice of ATA100 and SATA 300 interfaces. The 750GB, 500GB, 400GB, 320GB models all have 16MB of cache, the 250GB comes in both 8MB and 16MB versions, while the tiddly little 200GB model has a mere 8MB cache. This is surely the first time that a 200GB drive has ever been the baby of a new range of drives.
Seagate’s previous holder of the capacity crown was the 500GB 7200.9, which also used a four platter/eight head design to give an areal density of 125GB per platter. You always get some variation of platter density across a family of drives in order that models can be sold with a nice round number of Gigabytes of capacity, and in this respect the king of the 7200.9 family was the 160GB version which was a single platter design.
The 750GB 7200.10 is the version which has the most capacity per platter, but while the headline capacity figure of 750GB is certainly eye-catching, the areal density increase isn’t as great as you might think. It’s a step up from the 160GB/platter of Barracuda 7200.9 to the 187.5GB/platter of 7200.10 but it’s relatively modest when you consider that this is supposed to be the start of a new generation of hard drive technology.
When I looked at the 500GB Barracuda 7200.9 in January I reported that I had some problems with the SATA300 interface.
At the time I assumed that the problems could be laid at the door of a pre-production drive (the 7200.8 model code had been crossed out and adjusted to 7200.9 with a biro) but there was the possibility that a chipset incompatibility also played its part. As a result I built a revised test system for the Barracuda 7200.10 with a Sapphire PC-A9RG580Adv motherboard with Radeon Xpress 3200 chipset, FX-60 CPU, 1GB Corsair PC3200 RAM and a 150GB WD Raptor hard drive running on Windows XP SP2. I plugged in the test drive as an unformatted unit and ran HD Tach 3. After that I formatted the test drive and transferred 4GB of files from the Raptor to the test drive and back again. Finally I installed Windows XP SP2 on the test drive and ran PCMark05.