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Seagate kicks off server shift to 2.5-inch drives

Posted: 20 Feb 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:seagate technology? hard disk drive? savvio? hewlett-packard? fujitsu?

Seagate Technology has officially kicked off an expected industry transition from 3.5- to 2.5-inch hard disk drives for servers as it roles out its Savvio line, the company's first family to use the emerging serial attached SCSI interface.

The smaller, lower power drives are aimed at a new market segment for high-density storage in slim rack-mounted servers, storage arrays and server blades.

The initial Savvio drives will offer 36.7GB or 73.4GB using up to two disks rotating at 10,000rpms. Sustained data transfer rates will range from 41MBps to 63MBps with seek-time rates about 15 percent faster than the company's current 3.5-inch server drives.

The Savvio drives consumer about 5.1W in idle mode and <8W in read mode, about 40 percent less than existing server drives, thanks in part to a smaller motor.

The drives will come in 2Gb Fiber Channel and Ultra320 SCSI versions when they first ship in June. A version using the 3Gbps serial attached SCSI (SAS) interface should ship in September. LSI Logic makes the Seagate SAS chip.

Interoperability testing between drives, host bus adapters and expanders is the primary reason for the three-month delay in getting out a SAS version of the drive, said Brian T. Kraus, a senior enterprise marketing manager at Seagate. "Even though demos are taking place highlighting component-level maturity, a little more time is needed to assure a market dependent upon 24 by 7 reliability that it all fits together and works," said Kraus.

Seagate expects to develop 4Gb Fiber Channel versions of Savvio as well.

The company is not announcing any OEM design wins, however in a prepared statement one Hewlett-Packard manager praised the new part. "The Savvio drive provides HP design flexibility in creating higher-density, smaller form factor servers and modular storage arrays," said Paul Perez, VP of storage, networks and infrastructure in HP's x86 server group.

Kraus said he expects most of the Savvio business to come from mainstream PC servers. However a large minority of the business will be in storage arrays, and an emerging slice will be in server blades.

Fujitsu, Hitachi Global Storage Technology and Maxtor are also expected to launch 2.5-inch server drives.

"Hard disk makers with experience with 15,000rpm drives should have an edge since 2.5-inch server drives can leverage their components such as media, suspensions, and heads," said David Reinsel, drive analyst for International Data Corp. "Reputation will play a large roll [in which vendor fairs best in the 2.5-inch transition] since the enterprise storage segment has little tolerance for poor performance," he added.

The transition to the SAS interface appears to be on track, Reinsel said. "However, there is no margin for error on any part of any component if SAS is to be deployed in a timely manner. It looks as though the drive vendors have their ducks in a row. It is still yet to be seen if the switches and expanders will be ready in time," he said.

- Rick Merritt

EE Times

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