Seagate are planning to stop manufacturing 7200rpm 2.5” laptop drives at the end of 2013 in favour of SSD drives. David Burks, director of marketing and product management at Seagate Technology, during a conversation with X-bit Labs said…
“We are going stop building our notebook 7200rpm hard disk drives at the end of 2013.”
However Seagate do appear to be continuing to produce 5,400rpm drives, which are used in most mainstream laptops. So how is that a problem for audio professionals? Initially if 2.5” 7200rpm drives are no longer available that will impact on the ‘pocket drive’ market. With one mjor player out of that sector the availability of 7200rpm will be reduced and Seagate tend to lead the way in hard drive developments.
But my biggest concern is the direction of travel. As we discussed in Podcast 50, with reports from the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) and Storage Review about the suitability of SSD drives as audio media drives. Even though Avid have quietly announced on their hard drive compatibility page that they have approved SSD drives for both system drives and audio drives, our advice is to use SSD drives for your system drive but not for audio drives.
The benefits of SSD drives are that they can retrieve data very quickly because you don’t have to wait for the heads to get to where the data is on the disc, but there has been a limit to how fast they can deliver data in a stream or how fast they can write data, and there is a limit on the number of reads and write to each sector on the drive. Also they deteriorate with age and use. The EBU did some experiments and their findings were that for an audio drive SSD didn’t cut it over time, yes with a brand new drive in ideal conditions they were great but over time their performance deteriorated and once a sector has reached the maximum number of writes (between 10,000 and 100,000 depending on the type of chips used in the SSD) it can no longer be used. So for a system drive there are definite benefits but for audio drives, not yet would be our continuing advice. Although they would make good sample playback drives as they can retrieve data very quickly.
We need to lobby the drive manufacturers to develop SSD drives that will work reliably and have longevity for our kind of applications.