Third time is the charm? Seagate releases the third generation of their hybrid drive

Subject: Storage | November 29, 2011 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: hybrid, momentus XT, hdd, ssd, Seagate, sata 6Gbs

Over the past few years Seagate has been trying to perfect a way to get the best of both storage worlds by combining an SSD as a semi-permanent cache for a large platter based hard drive.  The new Seagate Momentus XT is the third generation of this series, a 750GB HDD with a 8GB SLC SSD available to cache frequently used files and are calling it FAST (Flash-Assisted Storage Technology).  Legit Reviews investigated their performance claims, after repeatedly using the drive to fill the cache as this drive will perform exactly like the platter based drive it is until that cache has moved frequently accessed or slow to load files into the flash memory.  It did seem to reduce boot times and program loading to almost SSD levels, though it does not effect infrequently used programs.  It was significantly less expensive than an SSD so if you tend to do similar tasks on your PC every day and need the large storage space this drive might just be for you.

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"Overall, we'd certainly recommend the Momentus XT and frankly wouldn't go back to a plain old hard drive unless we were forced to. The expediency of boot and application load times are something that, once you get used to it, you can't seem to live without. Keep in mind that it may take two or three times for the Adaptive Memory Technology to decide that it should be cached and speed things up. On the down side, every operation is not SSD fast, especially if you're performing it for the first time..."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

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Seagate Technology Provides Updated Financial Outlook

Subject: General Tech | November 29, 2011 - 12:23 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, hdd, earnings

It seems very interesting that Seagate is so upbeat about their earnings with the flooding in Thailand causing huge supply shortages of HDD world wide.  Last year at this time they were expecting 170 million units move, whereas this year is is 110-120 million units with demand outstripping supply.  That number does reflect some supply issues but perhaps not as bad as the issues faced by Western Digital and other manufacturers with a large presence in Thailand.  The profit being higher does show what happens when you have a product people want but cannot find; the price per unit quickly goes up and the business can still make a profit.  We can only hope that as supply returns to the chain that the price drops at the same speed it has risen.  We still do not have final word on Seagate's absorption of Samsung's HDD business, that will likely be in January.

CUPERTINO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Seagate Technology plc (NASDAQ:STX) today updated its financial outlook for the December 2011 and March 2012 quarters.

The company continues to believe that, due to the industry impacts caused by the extensive flooding in Thailand, hard disk drive supply will be significantly constrained for several quarters. For the December 2011 quarter, the company believes the industry will ship between 110-120 million units.

The company believes the industry’s ability to manufacture and ship hard disks drives will gradually improve throughout calendar 2012. While this may alleviate some of the unit demand shortfall, it is expected that some companies will optimize unit shipments by manufacturing lower component count/lower capacity hard disk drives; thereby, only modestly offsetting the growing petabyte shortage. Because demand is estimated to significantly exceed supply during this time, pricing is expected to remain stable.

Financial Outlook
The company’s component and disk drive factories in Thailand have not been directly affected by the flood; however, the company’s ability to manufacture hard disk drives has been impacted due to external component supply constraints as first disclosed on October 12, 2011.

For the December 2011 quarter, the company now expects unit shipments of approximately 43 million units and revenue of approximately $2.8 billion. Gross margin as a percent of revenue is expected to be 150-300 basis points above the high-end of the company’s long-term, targeted gross margin range of 22-26%. Operating expenses (R&D and SG&A) are expected to be approximately $400 million. Expenses related to the acquisition of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd’s (“Samsung”) hard disk drive business and any revenue or operating expenses of the acquired business following the closing date cannot be estimated at this time and are therefore excluded from this outlook. The company continues to expect to close the acquisition of Samsung’s hard disk drive business by the end of December 2011.

The company’s outlook for the March 2012 quarter assumes requisite regulatory approvals are received and the Samsung acquisition closes in December of 2011. The company also continues to work with its external suppliers to restore the component supply chain, and now expects that in the March quarter it will be capable of shipping a mix of products in terms of capacity per drive and expected market similar to pre-flood levels. Currently, for the March 2012 quarter, the company expects unit shipments to increase sequentially. Revenue is expected to be at least $3.75 billion and gross margin as a percent of revenue is expected to be at least 300 basis points above the aforementioned targeted range of 22-26%. The outlook for the March 2012 quarter excludes certain costs related to the integration of the acquired Samsung hard disk drive operations which cannot be estimated at this time.

The financial outlook provided today does not include the arbitration award previously disclosed on November 21, 2011.

Seagate says hard drive industry will take a year to recover

Subject: Storage | November 19, 2011 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: thailand, Seagate, Hard Drive, flooding

Last month we noticed that hard drive prices were spiking very high and we took a quick look at exactly why this was: most notably, the devastating flooding in Thailand.  While at one point you could buy 2TB hard drives for under the $100 mark when on special, those days seem long gone.  Our original story quoted the CEO of Western Digital as saying it could take "multiple quarters" for recovery to occur.

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Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

According to this quote seen on Bloomberg, Seagate's CEO, Stephen Luczo, says it might be much worse:

The projections by some Wall Street analysts that production will be back to pre-flood levels by summer are nonsense, Luczo says.

“This is going to take a lot longer than people are assuming, until the end of 2012 at least,” he says. “And by then, demand will have gone up.”

Well....crap.  Users looking to build new systems or even buy them from third parties will likely see increases in costs because of this.  And while not every need can really be addressed by SSDs (I type while looking for room on a system using one to install Skyrim...), the hard drive price increases could drive quicker adoption of solid state media in the near term. 

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In the interim, if you happen to find a good deal on spindle based hard drives, you might want to gobble them up!  Newegg has 2TB hard drives starting at $199 while Amazon has some starting at $174.

Source: Bloomberg

Hard Drive Prices Spike on Thailand Flooding

Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 27, 2011 - 04:00 PM |
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:

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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!

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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:

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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!

Seagate Releases First 4TB GoFlex External Hard Drive

Subject: Storage | September 8, 2011 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, Hard Drive, goflex, 4TB

Seagate has broken the capacity ceiling for single disk hard drives with their new GoFlex external hard drive reaching a beefy 4 TB of storage capacity. No specific details on performance have been released; however, Seagate has stated that the new four terabyte drive will be housed in their new industrial design enclosure and will carry an MSRP of $249.99.

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The new enclosure is a glossy black design that the company claims delivers a smaller footprint then their previous models. The front face holds a capacity meter that shows the used capacity in 25% increments. Connectivity options on the rear of the drive include FireWire 800 and USB 2.0. Users are also able to pair the 4TB GoFlex drive with a GoFlex adapter that enables USB 3.0 transfer speeds.

Currently, the 4TB hard drive is available for purchase from Seagate’s website, and will be available for purchase from online retailers within the month.  More photos of the drive are available here.  Personally, I had been holding off on the terabyte craze until a drive with at least four terabytes came out; however, storage needs required me to jump on a 2TB drive a bit earlier than I expected. Are you using a TB+ hard drive, or are you holding off for a certain capacity before jumping into the terabyte era?

Source: Seagate

Podcast #151 - HD 6670 and 6570, Seagate and Samsung deal, 20nm Flash memory, Viewer questions and more!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 21, 2011 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: Seagate, Samsung, podcast, HD6670, HD6570

PC Perspective Podcast #151 - 4/21/2011

This week we talk about AMD's new HD 6670 and 6570, the Seagate and Samsung deal, 20nm Flash memory, Viewer questions 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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

Program length: 1:12:48

Program Schedule:

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Seagate and Samsung, the defragmentation of the storage market continues

Subject: General Tech | April 19, 2011 - 11:51 AM |
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.

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"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."

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