hard drive history

2000: sea change

Seagate Barracuda ATA 2

Photo by kind permission of Seagate.

Seagate Barracuda ATA 2

In sales terms, these repeated the success of the first Barracuda ATA, and confirmed Seagate's renewed determination to remain a major player in high-performance IDE. Data rates and areal density were up again — which was no surprise — but they claimed to have shaved a little more off an already excellent seek time, which was very welcome.

Alas, the reality of the test-bench showed that the Series 2 was a fraction slower than the outgoing model, not faster at all. No matter, perhaps: it remained an excellent drive. The result was that there was so little difference in performance terms between the end-of-century crop of 7200 RPM IDE drives that we couldn't tell them apart without very careful measurement. Pending one company or another making a major advance, in 7200s, our advice then was as it remained for the next year or two: buy any brand you like because you will struggle to tell much difference.

With the original Barracuda ATA, Seagate announced five sizes from 6.8GB to 27GB (2, 3, 4, 6 and 8 head drives) but, for no good reason we could fathom, declined to ship any but the 20GB and 27GB versions in quantity. We assumed that the same would apply with the new model, which was announced in 10, 15, 20 and 30GB versions. We wondered at the wisdom of this: sure, it is less cost-effective to build single platter drives, but the bulk of demand was usually in the small to mid size ranges — between 10 and 20GB when these were first announced — and was a pity to limit so many people's choice to just 5400 RPM drives. Ironically though, Seagate shipped the full model range this time — just the market moved on, so now that we could at last get small fast drives, no-one wanted them. In the storage industry, just as in so many other fields, Murphy is the best authority of all.

Data rate364 Mbit/secSpin rate7200 RPM
Seek time8.3msBuffer2MB
Platter capacity10.2GBInterfaceATA-66
ST-315320A15.3GB2 GMR heads*
ST-320420A20.4GB3 GMR heads**
ST-330630A30.6GB3 GMR heads*