hard drive history

2000: sea change

Samsung SpinPoint P20

Photo: Red Hill.

Samsung SpinPoint P20

Samsung announced its first 7200 RPM drive in 1999, but the product was too little, too late and, so far as I know, it never made it into the distribution channel in quantity. Samsung's second attempt at a 7200 was a different matter altogether. The SpinPoint P20 was readily available and competitive. After the outstanding performance of the Samsung 5400 RPM drives, we had hoped for a new leader in this model. Alas, while it had the faster spin rate and lower latency of a 7200 RPM drive, and maintained most of the traditional Samsung quietness, its seek mechanism was not as good as that of the Spinpoint 5400s and the overall performance was not a great deal faster.

Nevertheless, with only weak competition from the other 7200 RPM models, it still managed to beat all but one or two of them, and was very much among the leaders. Although it was only available here in the 40GB capacity, we rated it alongside the other leading IDE 7200 in this size range, the Western Digital WD400BB, because the Samsung seek time was slightly faster and it was marginally cheaper. In the end we sold them side by side, tending to use the Western Digital for performance-critical jobs and the Samsung for must-not-fail installations. Note that this is perhaps an over-fine distinction: the Caviar BBs are not failure-prone, and the P20 Spinpoints are not slow. Both are excellent drives.

Data rate473 Mbit/secSpin rate7200 RPM
Seek time9msBuffer2MB
Platter capacity20GBInterfaceATA-100
SP1001H10.2GB1 GMR head
SP2002H20.4GB2 GMR heads
SP3003H30.6GB3 GMR heads
SP4004H40.8GB4 GMR heads***