BOSTON Seagate Technology Inc. took the wraps off what it calls the world's fastest disk drive at CeBit in Hannover, Germany on Wednesday (Feb 23). The 18-Gbyte Cheetah X15, a low-profile 3.5-inch disk drive, boasts an average seek time of 3.9 milliseconds, data transfer rates up to 48 Mbytes/second, and what Seagate calls the new frontier of spindle speeds: 15,000 rpm.
Aimed at e-commerce and enterprise-class applications, "the robust Cheetah X15 can deliver more transactions per second, bringing Internet users faster searches, quicker downloads and a more enjoyable online experience," said David Wickersham, senior vice president at Seagate (Scotts Valley, Calif.).
"For years the market has valued disk drives based on the cost per Mbyte," Wickersham said. "The Cheetah X15 changes everything. The demands of data-intensive applications such as e-commerce, the Internet and data warehousing have changed the market requirements for storage from capacity to speed per transaction. The true value of server-class storage must be measured in transactions per second or I/Os per second."
Seagate marketeer Sean Hood put a time-to-data spin on the drive. "There are two factors you can improve on for time-to-data: average seek time and latency," he said. A 15-k spindle speed helps bring latency down to 2 milliseconds on the Cheetah X15, he explained, compared to 2.99 ms on the company's 10-k rpm class drives and 4.17 ms on its 7,200 rpm drives. And a new, speedier actuator design brings seek time down to 3.9 ms, compared to 5.2 ms for the company's 10-k drives.
The 15-k drive benchmarks at 140 I/Os per second, Hood said, using Intel's IOmeter benchmark, compared to 84 for 7,500-rpm drives and 105 for 10-k drives. All in all, by Hood's reckoning, the 15-k drive delivers a 33 percent increase in I/Os per second over 10-k drives and a 28 percent improvement in time-to-data.
"Several years ago, we invented the 7,200-rpm drive," said Hood, "then a few years later the 10k-rpm drive, and now we're doing it again. We'll probably be two quarters ahead of anyone else to volume production of 15-k drives."