Toshiba has been spinning HDDs for over 47 years, and they delivered their first 14-inch 7.25MB hydraulic HDD in 1967. Fast forward 37 years and Toshiba offers HDDs in all speeds for every enterprise workload. Luckily, the HDDs of today are much smaller. Toshiba has progressed down to a capacity of 900GB in a 2.5-inch form factor with an areal density of 856Mbit/mm2 for the AL13SEB900 we evaluated today. There is no hydraulic fluid required, and the cache alone has more capacity than their original HDD.
The dual-port SAS AL13SE series is designed for heavy workloads in mission-critical environments. Its small 2.5-inch form factor allows its use in slim servers and other applications where 3.5-inch HDDs simply are not practical. 2.5-inch HDDs also bring along performance and power consumption improvements. Those looking to integrate the smaller HDDs into existing infrastructure can purchase a model pre-installed into a 3.5-inch drive bay converter.
In our testing, the AL13SE showed a preference for random write workloads. In our 4k and 8k testing, the AL13SE excelled in the middle ranges as we mixed in heavy write workloads. This is a good omen for performance in heavy mixed workloads, but the drive trailed the v7 in our pure random read tests. To see if the mixed performance equated to better scores in applications, we turned to our server emulations. The AL13SE tied the Seagate v7 in OLTP and email server tests, but took a slight loss in the file server profile. The Seagate v7 tended to excel in random read workloads, which led to it winning the web server test by a considerable margin.
Sequential read and write speed were a bit disappointing on the surface as the Seagate v7 easily took the lead over the AL13SE. Further testing revealed that the Toshiba drive performed much better in mixed sequential workloads, delivering a dominating performance in our write percentage testing. As with most of the tests, the AL13SE performs well in mixed workloads.
In power consumption and efficiency testing, the AL13SE again showed an affinity for write activity with a higher IOPS to Watts average in those workloads. The Seagate v7 took the win in read workloads. The results were too close to call in many of the mixed workloads, and the differences were slight where we recorded variances.
With the two drives so close in most performance metrics, many other aspects of the drive will come into consideration when it comes to making a purchasing decision. The Toshiba AL13SE and the Seagate v7 share other characteristics as well, with both providing a similar MTBF rating of 2,000,000 hours and a five-year warranty.
The Seagate v7 has a notable advantage in the capacity department at 1.2TB, and the Seagate v6 series offers similar performance at smaller capacities mirroring those of the AL13SE. For those looking for moderate capacity points, the AL13SE will make an attractive choice for write-centric mixed workloads. With such close performance metrics in many aspects, much of the decision will likely be determined by price, where the AL13SE series seems to hold the advantage at this point.
PRICING: You can find the Toshiba AL13SE for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.
United States: The Toshiba AL13SE (900GB) retails for $304.95 at Amazon.
Canada: The Toshiba AL13SE (300GB) retails for CDN$316.70 at Amazon Canada.