Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 27, 2011 - 04:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: wdc, shortage, Seagate, Samsung, hitachi, hdd, Hard Drive
Chances are good you have heard about the recent flooding in Thailand - as Yahoo puts it: "The country's worst flooding in half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, has killed 373 people since mid-July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million." Obviously this is a horrific disaster and we feel for the people affected by it.
But there is a tech angle to the story that has been showing up in many of our discussions as late and is the impact this disaster has had on the production of spindle-based hard drives. Looking for a 2TB hard drive today on Newegg.com this is what I found:
Prices for hard drives have sky rocketed in the last week or so due to the pending shortage of them across the world. Many of the top manufacturers have facilities based in Thailand for production as well as partners that are responsible for supplying companies like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi with the parts they need to produce platter-based drives.
While we used to talk about finding 2TB hard drives in the $89 price range, the best prices we could find on comparable units today start at $129; and this is for the slower units. Western Digital Caviar Black drives are starting at unit prices of $229 now!
Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
If you are careful and shop around, you can still find drives like this for the $149 price point at sellers like Amazon are bit slower to update their prices. (Scratch that, after publication this was already at $199!) But don't just blindly purchase drives at this point - do your research!
WD drives aren't the only ones affected. When doing a search for a Seagate 2TB drive, these were our results:
When asked for comment, a representative of one of the affected manufacturers expressed concern for the people of Thailand first, but when pressed, said:
"The entire hard drive business is affected. Two of our factories are inundated with water, which supports 60% of our output. But a ton of suppliers that the entire industry uses are also flooded so we are all impacted."
While looking over at WD's press center we found this comment from John Coyne, President and CEO:
In mid-October, to protect our employees and our equipment and facilities, we temporarily suspended production at our two factories in Thailand, which have been inundated by floodwater. In addition, many of our component suppliers have been impacted, leaving material for hard drive production considerably constrained. We are working with suppliers to assess the extent of their impact and help devise short- and long-term solutions. This is a complex and dynamic challenge that will require extensive rebuilding for the Thai people and government, and present unprecedented obstacles to the hard drive industry for multiple quarters.
Obviously with a majority of the facilities affected we can only expect these prices hikes to increase and to linger. That fact that Coyne specifically notes "multiple quarters" indicates that users likely won't see a return to the pricing we were used to until at least mid-2012. With competition from solid-state drives heating up, this could be bad timing for companies dependent on spindle drives as the driving revenue source: comparing a $300 SSD to a $90 standard drive is a much different decision than that same $300 SSD and a $240 standard drive of high capacity.
According to this report from Xbit labs, the industry has "two to four weeks" of hard drive inventory available. The author claims that this points to the situation not being so dire, but with the WD's CEO stating the effects will be seen for "multiple quarters", I am guessing we will see a major buy-up of inventory from system builders like HP and Dell that will cause drive shortages much more quickly than anticipated.
PC Perspective will keep tracking the effects on driving pricing and if any player in the business has other input they want to offer us. Stay tuned!
Subject: Storage | October 14, 2011 - 05:21 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: hdd, Hard Drive
With all of this SSD talk lately, let's not forget where storage stuff originated from - the HDD. Here's your spinning rust... ah-hem, Hard Drive lesson for the day:
Hard drives store bits by changing the magnetic alignment of magnetic 'grains' which have been 'sputtered' onto the surface of an extremely flat surface, or platter. Here are some grains created with current tech (lesson after the break):
Due to the random arrangement, storing bits on the above requires each bit to span across several grains as to ensure it is properly written.
The Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), based in Singapore, does all sorts of experimentation with, well, materials research. They had the bright idea to mix in a pinch of table salt into the sputtering process. This, combined with the use of electron-beam lithography, allows much greater control over grain creation - namely they can actually 'draw' them.
E-beam-etched grains formed with IMRE's new process.
Not only does this enable them to have more control over grain size, but it also allows them to create them in defined tracks. This lets the drive store one-bit per grain. Combine smaller grains with a better ratio of bits to grains and you've got potential for increasing magnetic storage by nearly an order of magnitude. IMRE has already tested the process at densities of 1.9Tb/in2, and they've created platters at up to 3.3Tb/in2. Consider current HDD's run at ~0.5Tb/in2, we're talking 6x the capacity - just when we thought HDD's were leveling off.
IMRE claims the new tech can be easily implemented with existing manufacture lines. The only potential catch I see is that with current HDD's, they make the platter and form tracks onto it once it's already fully assembled. This new tech creates the tracks in the middle of the process. This makes for potential alignment issues when going for a perfect 1-bit per grain density. Think of it as writing to a CD or DVD - the tracks are already there, so your drive's laser has extra components to help it keep the beam locked onto the track during writing (to account for any wobble, etc). HDD's using this new tech may need to employ a similar method, adding complexity to what is likely already the most complex part of these drives.
This development will not only enable higher capacity drives, it should help drop the price of current capacities. I guess SSD's will have to wait a bit longer before taking over the world.
Subject: Storage | September 6, 2011 - 10:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: hitachi, hdd, deskstar, cinemastar, 1TB Platter
Hitachi GST (Global Storage Technologies) today announced that the company is beefing up their product line by moving to 1 TB per platter technology. With an aerial density of 569 Gb/in^2 (569 Gigabits per square inch) for desktop drives, both Deskstar and CinemaStar product lines will be infused with the new platter technology and will range in capacities from 250 GB to 1 TB. We are currently awaiting an update as to whether the lower capacity drives are using older technology or fractions of the 1TB per platter drives, so stay tuned for an update. This will be important for the performance of the lower capacity drives because the improved aerial density of the 1TB per platter technology brings a healthy performance boost over the older technology due to the amount of data that is able to be read at a time.
The Deskstar lineup is for consumers and enthusiasts while the CinemaStar drives are low power drives best suited for A/V work in streaming HD video and/or writing HD streams to the disk. Such applications include security cameras, IPTV, and DVRs. The new Deskstar drives are available for purchase now; however, the CinemaStar hard drives will not be available until later this fall.
The Deskstar drives come in two flavors, the higher performance 7200 RPM 7K1000.D and the low power 5K1000.B hard drives that employ Hitachi’s Coolspin technology. Both models feature 32MB of cache, SATA 3 (6 Gb/s) interfaces, and power savings versus their predecessors. The HVERT and 8th generation power management technology has allowed Hitachi to claim 15% idle power savings on the 7K1000.D. On the other hand, the 5K1000.B sees a 23% idle power savings versus its predecessor.
The CinemaStar drives also employ 32MB of cache and the SATA 3 (6 Gb/s) interface. Hitachi claims that 90% of demand (for AV oriented hard drives) lies in single disk hard drives between 250 GB and 500 Gigabytes in capacity. Just like the Deskstar variants, the CinemaStar lineup is also broken up into faster 7K1000.D and low power, slower spinning 5K1000.B products.
While Hitachi is moving to 1 TB per platter, they are slated to be acquired by Western Digital in Q4 2011. The company will continue to ship the drives until “their logical end of life.” The important bit; however, is that Hitachi GST product warranties will continue to be honored after the acquisition. Have you used Hitachi drives lately, or have you moved on to the larger manufacturers?
Subject: Storage | July 11, 2011 - 02:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: western digital, WD30EURS. 3TB, hdd
If you are building an HTPC or even a file server which is focused on quiet operation in a small area, picking up a Velociraptor isn't your best choice. Since the plan also includes a drive with a huge amount of storage space, you might use an SSD for your OS but it is a little expensive to pick up an SSD(s) large enough to keep all of your media. Western Digital's AV-GP WD30EURS is a 3TB HDD which will operate between 5400-7200 RPM and is designed for use in consumer electronics, hence the Audio/Visual part of the name. It is different from the normal Green Power series as it utilizes ATA streaming commands with optimize the drive for multiple, large and sequential accesses at the expense of data integrity, and it tends to run a little hotter as well. Make sure you are running Vista or Win7 and a UEFI based motherboard before picking the drive up. TechARP's full review is here.
"Today, we will look at Western Digital’s largest capacity AV-GP hard disk drive - the WD30EURS. This hard disk drive is not only quieter and cooler than regular hard disk drive, it also packs a whooping storage capacity of 3 terabytes! Let’s take a look!"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- OCZ Vertex 3 @ Bjorn3D
- OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Apacer TurboII AS602 120GB SSD Review @ Real World Labs
- Corsair Force GT 120GB SSD Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Corsair Force Series GT 120GB SSD Review - The Force GT and Force Series 3 Compared! @The SSD Review
- Corsair Force 3 120GB @ Tweaktown
- Patriot Supersonic Magnum 64GB USB 3.0 Thumb Drive @ Tweaktown
- Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate G2 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Real World Labs
- QNAP TS-219P+ NAS Network Server @ Benchmark Reviews
- ineo Protection Box - I-NC05 @ Computing on Demand
- G-Drive Slim 500GB @ t-break
- Mushkin Class10 SDHC Card Review @ Neoseeker
Subject: Storage | June 10, 2011 - 12:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hdd, western digital, caviar green, 3tb
Before you go running out and buying the Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB HDD, there are a few caveats to remember. You will not be able to just pop this into a WinXP machine and expect to use it at full capacity, you need to have a motherboard with UEFI in order to boot from it and finally the implementation of Advanced Format Technology is still stuck in 512-byte emulation mode.
On the plus side, the drive spins at about 6600 RPM and is SATAS 6Gbs which makes it faster that it's smaller predecessor. Only the non-AFT version of the 2TB Green drive can beat it for throughput. Check out the full review at TechARP.
"Western Digital divides their internal hard drives into three distinct families - the WD Caviar Blue for their basic hard drives, the WD Caviar Green for their quieter, cooler hard drives and the WD Caviar Black for their performance-grade hard drives.
According to Western Digital, Caviar Green hard disk drives offer an average power saving of 4-5 watts over their competitors, a feat that they claim is equivalent to reducing CO2 emissions by 13.8 kg per year. Of course, that’s a mere drop in the ocean but if you can help save the environment while you work or play on your computer, why not?
Today, we will look at the improved Western Digital Caviar Green 3 TB hard disk drive - the new Western Digital WD30EZRX with Advanced Format Technology and 6 Gbps interface. Let’s find out how well this drive performs!"
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- SuperSpeed USB 3.0 INEO I-NA309D Pro @ TechwareLabs
- OCZ Technology Agility 3 240GB @ Tweaktown
- QNAP TS-659 Pro II NAS @ Benchmark Review
- Kingston Data Traveller G2 3.0 64GB @ XSReviews
- Centon Rush 3.0 @ HardwareBistro
- Patriot Memory Supersonic 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ PCSTATS
Subject: General Tech, Storage | April 22, 2011 - 03:24 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: thermaltake, hdd, giveaway, contest
As you can no doubt tell, PC Perspective got a HUGE and much needed facelift last weekend to what we are internally calling "PC Perspective v4.0". I know there are still some kinks to work out and we are actively addressing any feedback from our readers in this comment thread.
But we want to celebrate the launch of the new site in style!! Some of our site sponsors have very generously offered up some prizes for us to give out throughout the coming days...
The fifth set of prizes is a pair of Thermaltake Max 5G USB 3.0 external hard drive enclosures!
It has lights, it has fans AND it runs at USB 3.0 speeds. What do you have to do to win this wonderful piece of hardware?
Couldn't be easier: post a comment in this post thanking Thermaltake for its sponsorship of PC Perspective as well as your plans for using such a cool USB 3.0 external drive dock. What other features would you like to see on external enclosures like this?
You should probably have a registered account or at least be sure you include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you!
We will pick the winners tomorrow and move on to the next hardware that finds its way to PC Perspective offices. Good luck and thanks for reading!!
Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2011 - 11:51 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Seagate, Samsung, sale, partnership, hdd, 1 billion
While it is not a true merger or sale, it seems that the operations side of Samsung's HDD branch is being pruned off and sold to Seagate for over $1billion of cash and shares. The reports inidicate this will be more of a partnership, with Samsung continuing to develop technologies for HDD and retaining full ownership of its flash based storage assets. Drop by The Tech Report for more.
"Seagate and Samsung have announced a "broad strategic alignment," as part of which Seagate will take over Samsung's hard-drive operations in exchange for a cool $1.375 billion (paid half in cash, half in stock). The deal also involves a NAND flash memory supply agreement as well as "expanded cooperation" on enterprise storage."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Seagate buying Samsung HDD department rumor unlikely to occur shortly @ DigiTimes
- Cellphone battery mouse modification @ Hack a Day
- Intel will leave McAfee alone, but it can secure our chips @ The Inquirer
- Apple's IOS 4.3.2 gets jailbroken within a week @ The Inquirer
- Office 365 enters public beta @ Ars Technica
- Intel Thunderbolt may impact USB 3.0 @ DigiTimes
- Test Driving The QEMU-KVM KMS Driver @ Phoronix