Are Western Digital and Seagate doomed to be marked as bad sectors?

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2012 - 10:01 AM |
Tagged: Hard Disk, Seagate, western digital, fud, hdd

There are quite a few things in the industry to speculate on, from Microsoft's intimating a 'big new thing' next Monday to AMD and the HSA's plans for the future of the industry, but if you want to go for the big one then it is the hard drive industry you should be following.  The most recent sign that something big is going on would be the change in warranty length on consumer drives from the two remaining players, both of which now offer a 1yr warranty.  That is a vast reduction from previous 3yr and 5yr warranties and while it does not necessarily imply these drives will fail any faster it does mean they offer shorter warranties than their competition, the SSD.  This could convince a lot of people that paying $1/GB for an SSD is not really that bad of a deal and you can only expect that price to fall, especially on larger sized SSDs.

Also consider the fact that there are only two major HDD manufacturers left, Seagate and Western Digital.  This defragmentation of the industry has been going on for quite a while now, resulting in those two manufacturers owning their competitions resources and IP and pretty much being able to determine what the market will provide and at what cost to the consumer.  That has lead to the rather counter-intuitive profits that these two, especially Western Digital, made over the past year.  You would not expect a company which lost its manufacturing capabilities to the Thai floods to see a 230% increase in profit, yet that is exactly what happened from March 2011 to March 2012.  Seagate held their first place spot over the same time period, with higher volume sales contributing to that success with their prices only rising 20% instead of the 40% they threatened during the supposed supply difficulties.  

The HDD market seems to be on its way out, not just because ultraportable devices chose SSDs over HDDs but also because the average consumer has come to the realization that while having a few terabytes of storage is nice for long term storage they really do not need it, especially on a device which does not have long term support.  The Inquirer smells something foul in the air and comments on this topic here.

deaddrive.png

"Seagate, Western Digital and to a lesser extent Toshiba are starting to see free market economics - or as close as it gets - show their strategy of consolidation and profiteering. With the number of solid state disk (SSD) in the low teens, prices are falling steeply while hard drive makers rely on artificially high prices and shorter warranties to make a quick buck."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Inquirer

Good news everybody! The HDDs are coming back

Subject: General Tech | February 24, 2012 - 09:38 AM |
Tagged: flooding, thailand, hdd

It won't be completely back to normal but if DigiTimes' information is correct the HDD industry is getting back on their feet after the flooding in Thailand wiped out several fabs.  This is not just great news for your average consumer or enthusiast but also for businesses that have had server upgrades and maintenance postponed since stocks of enterprise HDDs dried up.  While it may seem funny that NewEgg limits the number of units you can buy for some of their stock, it is not so funny for a company that needs to rebuild a 10 disk RAID on a SAN.  By Spring we should see a return to stock levels of about 80% and prices about 30% higher than what existed on the market previously which will help out a lot of bottom lines as well as bring much needed money into Thailand to help with the recovery.

HDD is back.jpg

"The global production capacity of hard disk drives (HDDs) will increase to 140-145 million units, about 80% of the level before flooding hit Thailand in late 2011, in the first quarter of 2012, according to industry sources.

HDD makers exhausted their inventories of products and components in December 2011 and January 2012, the sources indicated. However, HDD vendors have not hiked quotes due to the off-season.

Among HDD vendors, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Seagate Technology have suffered less damage from the flooding and therefore have moved faster in restoring production capacities, compared to Toshiba and Western Digital, the sources indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes

Getting vibration-less storage without having to invest in an SSD

Subject: Storage | February 14, 2012 - 02:30 PM |
Tagged: vibration, Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer, hdd

At first glance they may just look like colourful metal 3.5" to 5.25" drive bay adapters but the Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer kit includes a rubber suspension intended to stop the noise and vibrations generated by a spinning hard disk.  It should help with cooling since the drives have more space around them in a 5.25" bay and it will help save space as three drives will fit in only two 5.25" slots.  SPCR's testing disproved the first as they saw noticeably higher temperatures from the drives once installed in the mounts, but not worryingly so.  They did see seriously positive results when they looked at the effectiveness of vibration reduction as well as noise reduction.  If you've got a drive that shakes your house when you boot this kit is worth checking out.

SPCR_tiche.jpg

"The Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer is an aftermarket internal hard drive suspension system that is simple but effective and cost efficient."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers

Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 8, 2012 - 08:34 AM |
Tagged: laser, hdd, Hard Disk

The big hoopla as of late has been wrapped around SSD's and flash memory technology, with constant die shrinks promising cheaper and faster solid state storage for your PC. Everyone seems to be slowly forgetting about good old HDD's, but spinning rust may have some life left after all.

A team of scientists formed iron and gadolinium into a series of alloy 'nanoislands'. These are basically isolated mini magnets. Each one carries a magnetic charge. Normally you would write to materials like this by hitting them with a much larger magnetic field (i.e. from your HDD write head). This team had a different trick up their sleeve - don't bother with the bigger magnet, just hit it with a burst of heat and get it to change state on its own.

1-physicistsre.jpg

Magnetic nanoislands getting hit by a frickin' laser.

Picture a sling shot, stretched out, and frozen in a block of ice. If you melt the ice, the rubber band will just snap back to its unstretched state and stay there. The same kind of thing happens when you heat a magnet - it becomes demagnetized. Now imagine if you could melt the ice, but flash freeze it while the rubber band has extended in the opposite direction. You've reversed the direction of the sling shot. Pull off the same trick with a magnet, and you can flip its poles. The trick is finding just the right length of time to heat the magnet and catch the 'flip' on the other end of its resonance. This team appears to have figured it out, and the magic number (for their material) is 60 femtoseconds. They can heep hitting the same spot repeatedly, and each time causes another flip in the poles.

laser_writes_hard_drive.jpg

Each pulse flips the bit.

To back this down into typical computer terms. A 1GHz CPU clock triggers every 1.00000 nanosecond, and 60 femtoseconds is 0.00006 nanoseconds. Ultrashort Pulse lasers have been around for a while. One was even used on my eyeballs a few years back. These pulses are so fast that the biggest issue would be getting information to the laser fast enough. The straight line theoretical speed of this technique ranges in the Terabytes per second, with densities limited by the capabilities of the nanotech used to create the islands.

To be clear, this isn't the first time heat or lasers has been used in magnetic media. TDK pioneered Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording tech years ago, but that tech is only heat *assisted*. This new breakthrough is writing, with heat, without the magnet at all. Now the only trick is figuring out how to read such a high density of tiny written bits. Since the laser writes much smaller than a magnetic head could accomplish, we might see a reversion back to optics for the reads.We're not sure how long before this technology appears on your desktop, but what we can say is that magnetic storage is not dead yet.

Source: Physorg.com

Have HDD prices started to come back from the stratosphere?

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2012 - 08:55 AM |
Tagged: hdd, thailand, flooding

TechSpot did some number crunching to develop the chart you can see below which tracks the price of HDDs from September, before the flooding in Thailand straight through to last week.  The spike upwards as stock and manufacturing capability was destroyed is easily noticeable but then the pattern starts to fragment.  The Green lines from Seagate and WD seem to have the most resiliency, being among the first to start decreasing in price and the only ones with a still declining price.  The large drives, such as the 3TB Barracuda not only declined to reduced their price but are actually getting more expensive.  The mobile side of the market is also covered though it does not seem as hard hit as their desktop cousins.  They didn't collect data on Enterprise drives, which are few and far between for anyone looking to grow their data centre, since it is the mobile and desktop HDDs which interest most readers.  Check out the numbers here.

TS_desktop-hard-drive-pricing.png

"The hard disk drive supply chain was hit hard late last year when a series of floods struck Thailand. The Asian country accounts for about a quarter of the world's hard drive production, but thousands of factories had to close shop for weeks as facilities were under water, in what is considered the world's fourth costliest natural disaster according to World Bank estimates. That's on top of the human cost of over 800 lives."

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Source: TechSpot

Podcast #185 - ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime, an overclocked XFX HD7970, AMDs Lightning Bolt and more!

Subject: Editorial | January 19, 2012 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: podcast, Intel, amd, ssd, hdd, nvidia, kepler, GK104, gpu, cpu

PC Perspective Podcast #185 - 01/19/2011

Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime, an overclocked XFX HD7970, AMDs Lightning Bolt and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:25:22

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:26 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:00:55 SOPA and PIPA Chat...
  6. 0:06:35 ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Review: Thinner, Faster
  7. 0:07:23 Acer Extensa 5420 Retrospective Review: How Far Have We Come?
  8. 0:10:15 Corsair Hydro Series H100 Liquid CPU Cooler Review
  9. 0:11:10 Video Perspective: Cooler Master Cosmos II Case Review
  10. 0:14:00 XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition and CrossFire Results
  11. 0:22:45 AMD and IBM inside the Xbox Next?
  12. 0:31:30 Lucid Cloud Gaming (VGWare) and XLR8 on Tablets Demo
  13. 0:44:55 Nvidia May Launch GF104 "Kepler" GPUs Ahead Of Schedule
  14. 0:51:00 AMD Lightning Bolt Strikes At Intel's Thunderbolt
  15. 0:53:00 AMD Countering Ultrabooks With Ultrathin Notebooks
  16. 0:55:00 Random Storage stuff at CES? also this link
  17. 1:05:00 Alienware X51 Desktop -- Console Sized PC, $700 and up.
  18. 1:10:30 Email from Tom about 7970 CrossFire
  19. 1:13:34 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Behringer XENYX 802
    2. Jeremy: EVGA SR-X
    1. Josh: Decent and cheap for the AMD enthusiast:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103962
    2. Allyn: Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation, oh, and my current house rep is my anti-pick
  20. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  21. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  22. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  23. Closing 

Source:

CES 2012 Day 1 Podcast - 1/8/2012

Subject: Editorial | January 8, 2012 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: podcast, CES, Intel, amd, nvidia, ocz, ssd, thunderbolt, hdd, Lenovo, laptop, ultrabook

PC Perspective CES 2012 Day 1 - 1/8/2012

Join us tonight as we talk about our first day of CES 2012 - including Storage Visions, CES Unveiled and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Matt Smith and Allyn Malventano

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source:

Of Barracudas, VelociRaptors and easy modding

Subject: Storage | January 6, 2012 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: Barracuda, VelociRaptor, hdd, modding

In the Hardware Leaderboard you will occasionally see a recommendation to partition a 1.5TB HDD into a 300GB partition for your OS and programs, leaving the remainder for storage.  This is because doing so on that size of drive will put the 300GB partition onto the 'sweet spot' of the drive which is functionally faster than the remainder.  Many have been doing this long before the advice was offered on the HWLB and not even thought to recommend it to friends as it has become an ingrained habit that they do not even think of consciously anymore.  Not so TechARP who assembled a guide on how to do this and an explanation of why it is that you gain so much speed from a simple partitioning.  They've recently updated the article so it seems an appropriate time to remind readers about this trick and to perhaps introduce the trick to some who are unaware of it.  Sooner or later 1.5TB drives will fall in price to the point where they are easily affordable again.

barracuda.jpg

"That's a really catchy title, isn't it? Who wouldn't want to turn a "slow" 7,200 RPM hard disk drive into a super-fast 10,000 RPM Western Digital VelociRaptor? After all, the 300 GB model of the much-vaunted HDD speed king retails for US$ 199.99, while a 1.5 TB Barracuda 7200.11 only costs US$ 109.99. Imagine getting the performance of the VelociRaptor with the capacity and price of the Seagate Barracuda!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: TechARP

HDD Warranties Slashed By More Than Half - But Why?

Subject: Storage | December 30, 2011 - 06:45 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, Warranty, Seagate, hitachi, hdd

It's been a few short months since Thailand saw some serious flood damage. The flooding had a huge impact on everything from Automobile production to the making of fiber optic cables. The largest impact to the computer industry was that of storage devices. While flash memory fabs were spared, makers of HDD components were hit hard.

Hitachi.jpg

Hitachi plant in Thailand, partially submerged.

This effect quickly trickled down to the HDD quickly spiking prices by nearly 200% by Halloween. Inventories remained at critically low levels for a 60-day window - long enough to have far reaching impact on the PC industry as a whole. With a key component missing from PC production chains, the effects caused dips in demand from the PC suppliers, eventually trickling back up the chain to other component makers. Intel was forced to scale back their chip production. The industry finally saw a reprieve just a few weeks ago, as HDD production recovered sufficiently as to begin the slow replenishment process, and it started to look like everything would be ok.

...and then the other shoe dropped.

Right as HDD Suppliers started catching up on supply, Western Digital made a surprising announcement. Starting on January 2nd of next year, most of their drive lines will see a drastic reduction to warranty periods. Caviar Blue, Caviar Green, and Scorpio Blue drives see a 50% drop from 3 to 2 years. Seagate quickly jumped on the bandwagon, cutting the 5-year warranties of several of their lines down to three. Even worse, the Baracuda, Baracuda Green, and Momentus (laptop) drives will be cut from five all the way down to 1-year warranties. Seagate's reductions go into effect December 31, 2011.

momentus-5.jpg

The Momentus XT, while technically a Hybrid SSD/HDD, was not spared in the warranty cuts.

This isn't the first time warranties saw an across-the-board cut in duration. Back in 2002, Western Digital and Seagate (as well as Maxtor - since acquired by Seagate), jointly cut their warranties back to just one year. The reasoning back then was claimed to be strictly business, and that it was done to be in-line with the 1-year warranty provided by PC OEM's, but was that the only reason? We would need a bunch of data on HDD failure rates to know for sure...

Continue reading our post about the lowered HDD warranties for more thoughts and analysis!!

Source: The Register

Podcast #183 - AMD Radeon HD 7970, HDD Price Analysis, a 4K Display, GTX780 Rumors, and more!

Subject: Editorial | December 29, 2011 - 11:11 AM |
Tagged: ssd, podcast, nvidia, Intel, hdd, amd, 7970, 780

PC Perspective Podcast #183 - 12/29/2011

Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7970, HDD Price Analysis, a 4K Display, GTX780 Rumors, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:13:37

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:30 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:02:08 Galaxy GeForce GTX 570 MDT X4 Overclocked Graphics Card Review
  6. 0:12:33 AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Graphics Card Review - Tahiti at 28nm
  7. 0:29:25 SSD and HDD Price Analysis: End of Shortage In Sight?
  8. 0:37:15 The EIZO DuraVision FDH3601 is a 4k x 2k Display, and We Want It
  9. 0:41:53 GeForce GTX 780 Leak
  10. 0:45:47 Battlefield 3 Frame Rate Drop Issue with GeForce GPUs
  11. 0:49:42 AMD Refreshes the A-Series APUs for the New Year
  12. 0:53:40 Richard Huddy is now Intel Inside. Well I'll be d'AMD.
  13. 0:55:40 Intel Releases New Cedar Trail Atom Processors
  14. 0:57:35 http://www.pcper.com/news/Processors/Intel-Medfield-x86-SoC-Targets-Android-Phones-and-Tablets
  15. 1:04:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: AIDA64
    2. Jeremy: Ice Machine
    1. Josh: If you haven't bought one before...
    2. Allyn: Google Voice to PSTN (OBi100)
  16. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  17. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  18. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  19. Closing

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