Our Test Drive
Our test drive came direct for Seagate and we were fortunate enough to get the high-end 7200.10 model with a huge 750GB storage capacity with 16MB of cache memory and supporting the fast SATA-300 transfer protocol.
All of the 7200.10 drives are available in either Parallel ATA (IDE) with ATA-100 transfer speeds or the SATA variant that support both 150 and 300MB/s transfer rates. All of the SATA drives support NCQ and Hot Swap whereas the IDE variants do not. Depending what model you buy determines the amount of cache that is included.
The 750, 500, 400 and 320GB models all come in a single cache size, that being 16MB. The 250GB model comes with either 16MB or 8MB. 200GB come in 8MB only, while the 160 and 80GB models come with either 8MB or 2MB cache. Just check the model number before buying to make sure you get the right amount of intended cache.
All of the drives support the new perpendicular recording technology that has allowed the drives to exceed their pervious storage capacity limitations as well as increase read and write speeds.
Perpendicular recording works just how it sounds. Normally a hard disk has its magnetic bits arranged in a longitudinal array, where by the bits are stored in a lateral way on the disk surface. This required 2x the mount of space to store a single bit of data. While you can reduce the size of the bit in order to increase capacity, you can only go so small that the bits begin to loose magnetic coherency when the drive is at maximum speed, causing the bit to flip, and data can become corrupted.
Perpendicular recording rotates the data bit 90 degree and stores the data bit in a vertical manner, reducing the amount of space needed on a platter to store the bit. This allows the drive to pack more data onto the drive without the need to reduce the data bit size, this is how Seagate has overcome the 500GB barrier with traditional magnetic recording. And this is not the first drive either from Seagate to use perpendicular recording. We tested a Seagate Momentus 5400.3 notebook hard disk drive not too long ago that was the first Seagate drive to take advantage of this, and when it came to the crunch, the new technology was extremely useful for notebook applications where size is important.
The bottom of the drive contains the PCB with all the circuitry onboard. The controller chip that makes use of the SATA-300 interface as well as the NCQ is the Agree controller chip which is one of the companies that Seagate owns. The cache memory is located on the reverse side of the PCB with a single 16MB module that are supplied by Samsung.