Hitachi's Deskstar 7K1000 - The Drive
Hitachi's Deskstar hard drive line-up comes complete in its own box and is available on retail shelves; this unlike some hard drives available in OEM and packed in a simple plastic blister to protect it, Hitachi has gone the whole hog. The front of the Hitachi Deskstar box is white with a picture of a simple HDD on the front. The size of the drive is clearly printed on the front with a red banner/protective seal which also has the drive's size along with some interesting stats about how many videos, MP3s and pictures you can typically get onto 1TB of HDD space.
The back of the box contains some marketing hype as well as a three step procedure with pictures on how easy it is to connect the Hitachi drive to the PC. The inclusion of the instructions is a very good step as a less experienced end user can get the idea on how easy it is to put a hard disk into their own PC and not have to go pay a technician $50 to do a five second job.
When you open the box you're greeted with a Hitachi Installation Guide which explains in full detail just how to connect the drive to the PC power supply as well as installing it to the case chassis rails and the Serial ATA data port. A software CD is provided with Hitachi's desktop management software. If you're installing this drive as a companion to the PC rather than the boot disk, this software will initialize the drive as well as format it so Windows XP or Vista is able to see it in My Computer.
If you have bought yourself a more budget oriented board for your system, and assuming this is a second drive for you, chances are you don't have enough Serial ATA data cables; this could be a problem with some company's drives, but not Hitachi's. A single Serial ATA data cable is provided, the only problem is it doesn't have any of the clips on them to hold the cable to the drive or into the SATA-II ports on motherboards. Four screws are provided for you to attach the drive to the case chassis.
Now we come down to the drive itself where all your precious data is stored. On the outside the drive looks like any other that you would go and get from a PC vendor. It's what's inside that counts. The drive supports 1TB of data. While this is 1TB from the company the windows formatted size is 936GB of data. When companies sell hard disks they state them to the Nearest 1, this means they class 100MB HDDs as having 100MB of space, unfortunately a megabyte is actually 1024bytes so formatted sizes are smaller than stated. The top of the drive itself just has a label with info on the drive head and cylinder specs as well as the model number.
The underside of the drive contains the interface control board. The board contains the Infineon SATA 3.0Gpbs control chip. This chip is what the drive uses to communicate with the motherboard's Serial ATA controller. This chip is also responsible for the behaviour of the drive's NCQ system. Next to this is a single Samsung memory chip. Previously we have seen drives with up to 16MB of cache memory, which is a huge amount for storing data temporarily. The larger the cache the better as it allows for a faster read rate along the SATA-II interface. Seagate held the record for putting 16MB on their drives first, but Hitachi has gone one better.
The Deskstar 7K1000 has a full 32MB of cache memory. Since the drive heads can't read or write data anywhere near the 300MB/s speed that Serial ATA II is capable of, large caches are used to store data that is commonly being accessed like some of the system's pagefile. Since the memory is capable of transferring data faster than the 300MB/s, it's accessed at near on full speed which is why we get burst speeds of over 200MB/s.
At the back of the drive you get a choice of power connector, you can use the SATA power if your power supply has one. If yours doesn't and you don't want to use molex converters, no worries as there is a 4-pin molex connector too.
In order to fit sizes beyond the 500GB barrier, companies have had to switch the way they have the hard disk store data. Traditionally the data blocks or magnetic blocks that store the data sit on a longitudinal axis on the drive platter. While simple to implement, it limits the amount of data that can be written to the drive. Current drives over 500GB use what's called perpendicular recording and its method of aligning the partials rotates them 90 degrees. This means that the longer blocks stand upright rather than laying across the drive, thus allowing more data to be packed onto the drive. This has seen drives hit 750GB and now the full terabyte, making RAID arrays at 2TB or beyond much more affordable and simple to implement.