Seagate's continued expansion into the SSD market hasn't followed the same path as the other storage giants. While many scramble furiously to purchase external companies with existing SSD technology and components, Seagate seems content to leverage existing relationships, and their wealth of internal storage knowledge. Seagate already provides a wide datacenter storage portfolio, and we have evaluated the NAS HDD, 7,200 and 10,000 RPM HDDs, the Enterprise Turbo SSHD, and the 600 PRO 6Gb/s SATA SSDs, which are now joined by the new Seagate 1200 12Gb/s SAS SSD.
The 1200, the third generation of Seagate SAS SSDs, leverages 12GB/s architecture to deliver a high level of performance for a myriad of uses, including virtualization, high-performance computing, data analytics, and tiering.
The design employs the use of Samsung 21nm NAND, which is a rare sight outside of Samsung products. Seagate's use of Samsung NAND is borne of a strategic agreement that provides Seagate the enviable advantage of a guaranteed NAND supply. Seagate augments their access to the fab with OEM and qual-cycle experience, and an extensive global supply chain.
The Seagate 1200 switches from the LAMD controller used in the Pulsar 2 and 600 Pro SSDs, to a custom-designed P6M49400.4 ASIC from Marvell. Seagate's proprietary firmware delivers impressive speeds of 110,000 / 40,000 random 4K read/write IOPS, and sequential performance weighs in at 750 MB/s - 500 MB/s read/write. The 1200 is available in 1.8" or 2.5" form factors with a 7mm z-height, and capacities of 200GB, 400GB, and 800GB.
The 1200 utilizes 512MB of DDR3-1600 cache, along with power capacitors that can flush the contents of the DRAM to the NAND in the event of a power loss. Seagate also focuses on providing robust data protection in the form of SED and FIPS 140-2 models, with support for SANITIZE and cryptographic erase chief, among many security-minded enhancements.
Currently, the only other 12Gb/s SAS SSDs available are offerings from HGST and Toshiba. This leaves us a small comparison pool that is winnowed down to keep the competing SSDs within the same price segment. Many SSD manufacturers are coy about pricing, but Seagate actually has current pricing embedded into their webpage. We previously evaluated the Tohsiba PX02SMF080, and with pricing from between $4-$5 per GB, it is the nearest competitor to the $3-$3.50 per GB price point of the Seagate 1200. Retail prices are generalized and only current at the time of publishing, but are indicative of trends for Tier 2 OEM pricing. As per usual, volume pricing can lead to significant discounts.
Both SSDs have custom Marvell controllers, but the similarities stop there. The Seagate 1200 surprisingly flaunts nearly the same 10 DWPD endurance, with its 21nm Samsung MLC NAND as the Toshiba with its 24nm eMLC. Both drives feature the same five-year warranty, but the Toshiba edges the 1200 in several performance metrics. The Seagate 1200 touts its excellent efficiency with a high IOPS-Per-Watt specification and significantly lower price point.
The stage is set for a showdown between these two 12Gb/s SAS contenders, but first let's take a closer look at the Seagate 1200 family.
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