Seagate Barracuda One brings 1TB per platter, lots of under-the-hood improvements

Barracuda One aims to simplify Seagate's desktop hard drive line-up, increases capacity and improves speed

Seagate's Barracuda One uses 1TB platters, has a dual-core CPU, 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM and lots of other nifty technology.

Seagate's Barracuda One uses 1TB platters, has a dual-core CPU, 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM and lots of other nifty technology.

Seagate today announced its new desktop hard drive range: Barracuda One. The Barracuda One range features drives with an aerial density of up to 1TB per platter and all drives in the range have a spin speed of 7200rpm — no drives are faster or slower than this. The Barracuda One is available with a capacity up to 3TB (with a starting point of 250GB) and along with the higher data density of the platters, new technology has been introduced to make sure the read and write heads can efficiently track and access the data on them.

Seagate says its proprietary AcuTrac technology has a secondary servo and actuator on the main actuator that can keep heads on track at a scale of only 75 nanometres, allowing them to reliably access up to 340,000 tracks per 2.5cm. This technology is also said to improve reliability in environments where drives might be susceptible to vibration. For Seagate, this technology is part of what has allowed its engineers to pack in so much data on one platter and have it reliably accessed, and it's a technology that should allow the company to pack even more data onto a single platter in the future. As has been the case for a few years now, data is recorded onto the platters using Perpendicular Magnetic Recording Technology, which situates bits upright on a platter, rather than end to end.

The Barracuda One drives have up to 64MB of cache (for capacities greater than 750GB) based on DDR2 SDRAM — a first for Seagate. This, along with improved caching algorithms and a dual-core CPU form part of Seagate's OptiCache technology, and the company says it should enable much faster throughput from the disk to the main system memory. Furthermore, because there is so much more data per track, the disk can read and write more data faster over the duration of a single spin — Seagate claims a 45 per cent boost in performance over older drives because of these factors. All drives in the range have a 6Gbps SATA interface with Native Command Queuing technology.

Many of the drives in the Barracuda One range (from 750GB and up) have 4096 bytes per sector rather than 512 bytes per sector. The firmware in these drives has a feature called SmartAlign, which can detect the capability of the desktop PC its running in and seamlessly perform a translation to 512 bytes if the motherboard or operating system does not support 4096 byte sectors. This means that users with older computers can use a Barracuda One without any problems and Seagate claims that the translation is so swift it will not impact performance at all as it breaks down 4096 bytes to 512 bytes.

For users wishing to install a 3TB drive in their older, Windows XP-based machine, Seagate claims it is the only vendor to offer free software that can aid in the installation of such a big drive. Its DiskWizard software will allow a new 3TB drive to be formatted in two partitions so that Windows XP users can make use of the entire drive.

Because the Barracuda One uses 1TB platters, the 1TB model in the range has a different height to the 2TB and 3TB models, which use two and three platters, respectively. The 1TB drive is only 20mm in height, while the 2TB and 3TB drives are 26mm in height. The different height does not affect mounting in a typical desktop case as the mounting holes are still in the same positions.

Seagate has not introduced 'green' drives in the Barracuda One range, citing miniscule difference in electricity consumption between full power and low power drives and a need to offer optimal performance for its customers. However, the company will continue to have low-power drives for use in set-boxes and other consumer electronics devices.

Users who want the ultimate in performance can look forward to the Barracuda XT, which will bring hybrid disk and solid state technology to the desktop. Previously, hybrid drives were only available for notebooks via the Seagate Momentus XT model. The Barracuda XT will have a capacity of 4GB (via four platters) in addition a solid state component.

Overall, the message from Seagate is that the new drives are faster thanks to the use of a dual-core CPU, DDR2 memory and a standard 7200rpm spin speed across the board, and they exhibit much improved tracking control for the aerial density that they offer. An on-sale date for the Barracuda One drives in Australia has not yet been announced. They will have a warranty period of two years, which is down from the company's previous three-year offering.

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