Seagate Breaks Into Half-Terabyte Drive Market

Scotts Valley, Calif.-based Seagate is banking on its new line of Barracuda 7200.9 drives to reach new levels of performance, ruggedness and reduced noise output to grab attention in the channel.

“This drive is very robust,” said James Knight, product marketing manager at Seagate. To provide for ruggedization, the vendor enhanced the technology of the spindle motor, heads, head arms and disc clamp to offer additional protection against “non-operational” shocks such as bumping. Seagate calls the technology G-Force Protection.

Seagate is targeting its new drives at low-cost SATA servers, gaming systems and media PCs.

“This is a half-terabyte drive that withstands integration events and packing and shipping events. [It is] very rugged, very dependable,” Knight said. The 500-Gbyte Barracuda 7200.9 Serial ATA (SATA) drive costs $429. Seagate also is releasing an 80-Gbyte 7200.9 SATA drive for $475 and a 40-Gbyte 7200.9 Parallel ATA drive for $61. The SATA drives perform at 3 Gbps but can “self-configure” to work within legacy 1.5-Gbps SATA systems, Seagate said.

Seagate is targeting this round of new hard drives at low-cost SATA servers, broad-market and high-performance PCs, gaming systems and media PCs.

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Moving forward, Seagate said its five-year warranty protection will include all drives in the notebook, desktop and entry-level server space.

“We like Seagate because their warranty is a big plus for them,” said Tory Salchow, general manager of Milwaukee PC, a Shorewood, Wis.-based system builder. Salchow said that an “80-Gbyte hard drive is big enough” for many customers, while a half-terabyte drive “probably has its place in the gamers sector or video editing.”

Seagate has been working since 2003 to make gains in the high-capacity disk drive space. According to Seagate, at the end of 2003, the company had 5 percent market share in the segment, compared with 52 percent for Maxtor, 40 percent for Western Digital and 4 percent for Hitachi.

At the end of the first quarter this year, Seagate was up to 24 percent market share in that space, with Maxtor at 39 percent, Western Digital at 29 percent and Hitachi—its only other competition in the half-terabyte space—at 9 percent.