Storage solutions for the desktop hard disk market are now really starting to take shape. Over the past ten years of PC technology hard disks have been stagnant while sizes have just slowly increased, we have been stuck with the same slow and clumsy interface.
The IDE protocol was invented for the first AT and XT series of PCs. Designed to transfer data in a parallel format, IDE grew on motherboards to incorporate two channels per IDE port. At its height, two IDE ports were included on mainstream motherboards, supporting up to four drives. IDE got a big boost when the ATAPI standard was introduced. ATAPI stands for ATA Packet Interface; what this allowed for was devices like LS-120, CD/DVD drives and Zip drives to be connected to the IDE channel, something that was not previously possible and would require a separate controller card to connect the CD drive to the PC.
IDE finally gave way to the Serial ATA protocol which is what is currently in use today. Serial ATA moves the transfer of data from and to devices in a full serial nature, as opposed to the now very old and limited parallel format of the IDE standard. When this happened, speeds were able to increase from 100MB/s of the IDE interface to 150 on SATA generation 1 and 300MB/s on SATA generation 2. Along with better performance, SATA also uses much smaller data transfer cables; rather than 80 wire IDE we now use 7 wire Serial ATA. Ports increased, motherboards could only support four IDE drives at their best without the use of external cards. Serial ATA today natively supports up to six drives on Intel ICH8 and ICH9 motherboards.
While speeds increased, we started to see the drives themselves struggling to come in larger capacities due to their design for storing data. Hard Disks are still the slowest component in the computer for data storage due to the magnetic nature of how the data is stored. Recently we have seen big improvements made with the introduction of perpendicular recording along with Native Command Queuing (or NCQ).
Today we have our hands on one of the largest capacity desktop drives available on the market. Hitachi has sent us their new Deskstar 7K1000 drive supporting a full terabyte of data. How will this drive perform? Let's go have a look.