Seagate Unveils 1-Tbyte SAS And Self-Encrypting Hard Drives

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The company's new Barracuda ES.2 hard drives with a serial-attached SCSI (SAS) interface offer a 135-percent boost in performance over SATA hard drives, said Henry Fabian, executive director of enterprise marketing for Seagate Technology LLC, Scotts Valley, Calif.

However, their power consumption is up by only 1 Watt, said Fabian. That results in an increase in performance per Watt of power consumption of 38 percent over SATA, he said.

"A lot of integrators and system builders are putting together SATA systems with an interposer card in order to add full duplex capabilities (to get SAS-like performance)," he said. "So while SAS drives consume 1 Watt of power more than SATA drives, with the interposer card, the SATA drives actually draw more power than SAS. So when we bring in 1-Tbyte SAS drives, it doesn't make any more sense to use SATA."

The release of the 1-Tbyte SAS hard drives is part of a trend that has been going on over time, Fabian said. "Parallel SCSI is going away soon, and people will have to move to SAS," he said. "The last parallel SCSI drive will ship not too far in the future. We may see the end in this year. Seagate has already stopped producing them, so only leftover models are still available."

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Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Nor-Tech, a Burnsville, Minn.-based system builder, said the move to 1-Tbyte SAS drives is exciting, but how quickly customers will adopt them depends on price, as SAS drives have traditionally been more expensive than SATA drives.

"For high-end storage, SAS is important," Swank said. "This will enable a whole new level of storage servers. For customers who need the higher capacity and performance, this is exciting."

Seagate's Barracuda ES.2 family of SAS drives spin at 7,200 rpms, and have an average seek time of 8.5 milliseconds. They are available in 500-Gbyte, 750-Gbyte, and 1-Tbyte versions.

Seagate's new Cheetah 15K.6 FDE (Full Disk Encryption) hard drive for enterprise data centers has encryption technology built into the drive's controller ASIC, said Gianna DaGiau, product marketing manager for the vendor.

The company has already been shipping similar drives for notebook PCs, and has already announced the security technology for desktop PCs and portable USB-connected drives, DaGiau said.

However, such security technology is more difficult to add to enterprise data center hard drives because of issues related to ensuring that the data is really protected, she said.

"Inside the data center, there are many layers of technology to protect data," she said. "But Seagate and our competitors are working hard to ensure that data on a hard drive is readable for years. Most drives, when they leave the data center now, have data, but they don't have all those layers of protection."

DaGiau said that encryption at the hard drive level captures all the data automatically, with no need to classify the data and no impact on performance. This is important, she said, because of how changes in compliance regulations are starting to impact enterprise customers.

"We do this because compliance guidelines state that, if you don't know where your hard drive is, it could be that someone is reading the data," she said. "If you don't know where it is, you have to notify customers. And notification can cost millions."

The new 3.5-inch drives are available in capacities of 450 Gbytes, 300 Gbytes, and 147 Gbytes. They are available with SAS or Fibre Channel interfaces, and come with a five-year warranty.

The self-encrypting hard drives are expected to be available sometime this year, depending on OEM customers, DaGiau said. "Eventually, we expect this not to be an option, but a standard feature in all data center drives," she said.

Seagate's new 1-Tbyte hard drives were unveiled at the Storage Networking World conference, held this week in Orlando, Fla., while its new self-encrypting hard drives were unveiled at the RSA Conference, held this week in San Francisco.