When it comes to traditional platter drives, the most innovative company on the block is Seagate. Seagate has many firsts under their belt, more than what I could possibly go into in an article about a single drive. Adding to the long string of innovative products is the new Seagate Constellation.2 Series of products.
With a maximum capacity of 1TB and a small 2.5" form factor, the Constellation.2 is already breaking new ground. On top of that, Seagate wasn't content with just a SATA or SAS interface, the Constellation.2 is available in both SATA 6G and SAS 6G. As you might have guessed, the new 2.5" Constellation.2 is a nearline enterprise drive, but unlike the norm in this field the new SATA and SAS Constellation.2 is optimized to be power efficient, using only 3.9 watts at idle.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, let's take a look at the Seagate Constellation.2's specifications and then get to the looking at the performance numbers of the SATA 6G version.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Seagate has always done a very good job releasing information to consumers and journalists and the chart above is just a small slice of the data available. I think we should first start with the form factor of the new Constellation.2. Just saying 2.5" form factor isn't enough these days, since there are 7, 9, 12 and 15mm height drives on the market.
The Constellation.2 is the 15mm variant (technically 14.8mm), so you aren't going to be installing this drive in your notebook. The new Constellation.2 isn't designed for notebook use anyhow; the 15mm standard is reserved for server use and many server manufacturers have converted over to the 2.5" standard.
When it comes to the SATA version of the Constellation.2, the drive is available in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB capacity points. All capacity sizes are also available with encryption, but most shipped without encryption. All Constellation.2 drives use a massive 64mb cache buffer and have 7,200 RPM platters. Seagate has raised the bar again with this new series and moved the MTFB up to 1.4 million hours.
The Constellation.2 is the latest product from Seagate and has only been on the market a short time. We dug around and found the 1TB ST91000640NS drive available at PROVANTAGE for 206.93 USD. PROVANTAGE also gave us the lowest price for the 500GB Constellation.2 at 162.90. The 250GB model was a little more difficult to find since it didn't show up in the search at PROVANTAGE, but Google was able to deliver a link. This model runs 110.68 USD.
The Seagate Constellation.2 1TB 2.5" HDD
The official name of the new Constellation is actually Constellation.2 (point two). The official model number of the 1TB unit is ST91000640NS. Both of these are listed on the actual drives on the front label. Also listed is the drives serial number and firmware revision.
The back of the drive uses the component free method and all of the surface mount components are facing the inside of the drive.
Here we see the 15mm standard and many will notice that the drive is quite a bit taller than the 9.5mm notebook drives that we are used to seeing. The mounting locations are the same for all of the 2.5" form factors, though.
The model we are looking at today is the SATA variant; in the future we will test the SAS variant and even get into some in-depth RAID tests.
Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: AVADirect, GIGABYTE, Cooler Master, LSI, Corsair. and Noctua.
You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.
Even though we are now into 2011, we plan to use our awesome 2010 test system well into the year. Look for a few updates in the coming weeks as we are starting to make a few changes.
For testing today we used the Intel ICH onboard the GIGABYTE X58A-UD7 motherboard.
ATTO Baseline Performance
Version and / or Patch Used:2.34
ATTO is used by many disk manufacturers to determine the read and write speeds that will be presented to customers.
The Seagate Constellation.2 reaches full speed at the 8k block range and holds both read and write speeds of around 127MB/s through the rest of the test range.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used:4.00
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
Benchmark: measures the performance
Info: shows detailed information
Health: checks the health status by using SMART
Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
While looking at the charts of 2.5" drives today, we are mainly going to focus on the previous Constellation Series and the WD VelociRaptor 600GB, the only other enterprise class 2.5" drive.
The new Constellation.2 is clearly faster than last years model. Here we see that the average read speed of the new version is actually faster than last years maximum speed.
The same can be said about the write speed. Here we see that Seagate has made the 2.5" SATA Constellation.2 quite a bit faster.
Benchmarks - Everest Random Access Time
Everest Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used:4.60
Everest Ultimate and Corporate Edition offer several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.
Drives with only one or two tests displayed in write the write test mean that they have failed the test and their Maximum and possibly their Average Scores were very high after the cached fills. This usually happens only with controllers manufactured by JMicron.
All of the Constellation and Constellation.2 drives in the chart operate at 7,200 RPM, so it's no surprise that all three access data at the same rates. The Western Digital VelociRaptor is a 10K RPM model, so it has the lowest access time.
The write access time is also very close with the Constellation drives in the chart and the same applies here. With all three drives being so close together on the timeline, not a lot of advancements were made in this area.
Benchmarks - Crystal Disk Mark
Version and / or Patch Used:3.0 Technical Preview
CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software.
* Sequential reads/writes
* Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
* Text copy
* Change dialog design
* internationalization (i18n)
Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 is not available to the public yet, but the Technical Preview does allow us to test 4K performance at queue depths of 4 and 32 in addition to 1. The current release Crystal Disk Mark only shows us QD 1.
We use CDM mainly for looking at 4k and NCQ on solid state drives. Platter drives have yet to catch SSDs in 4k performance, but we can still use the software to see how well native command queuing is working on a drive. Here we see that a single 4k hit delivers just under 1MB/s, but once we get to a depth of 32 the performance increases to around 2.3MB/s.
NCQ on the write side shows the 4k performance at nearly the exact same levels.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests
PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests
Version and / or Patch Used:1.0.0
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
FutureMark has developed a good set of hard disk tests for their PCMark Vantage Suite. Windows users can count on Vantage to show them how a drive will perform in normal day to day usage scenarios. For most users these are the tests that matter since many of the old hat ways to measure performance have become ineffective to measure true Windows performance.
HDD1 -Windows Defender
HDD2 - Gaming
HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery
HDD4 -Vista Startup
HDD5 -Windows Movie Maker
HDD6 -Windows Media Center
HDD7 -Windows Media Player
HDD8 - Application Loading
In a server environment most of these tests will not apply. On desktop computers these are our primary tests. We can still see how much of an improvement the second generation Constellation is over the first generation. The new drive is significantly faster in all tests.
Benchmarks - AS SSD
AS SSD Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.3577.40358
Developer Homepage:Alex Intelligent Software
Product Homepage:Alex Intelligent Software
AS determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are carried out without the use of the operating system caches.
In all synthetic tests the test file size is 1GB. AS can also determine the access time of the SSD, the access of which the drive is determined to read through the entire capacity of the SSD (Full Stroke). The write access test is only to be met with a 1 GB big test file. At the end of the tests three values for the read and write as well as the overall performance will be issued. In addition to the calculated values which are shown in MB/s, they are also represented in IO per seconds (IOPS).
Note: AS SSD is a great benchmark for many tests, but since Crystal Disk Mark covers a broader range of 4K tests and HD Tune Pro covering sequential speeds, we will only use the Copy Benchmark from AS SSD.
- Copy Benchmark
Copying data from one area of the drive to another has increased quite a bit as well. The performance of the new Constellation.2 is very good and even outperforms the Western Digital VelociRaptor; this is even though the Raptor has a platter speed advantage. This performance can be attributed to the higher aerial density of the Constellation.2.
Benchmarks - Passmark
Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests
Version and / or Patch Used:6.1
Many users complain that I/O Meter is too complicated of a benchmark to replicate results so my quest to find an alternative was started. Passmark has added several multi-user tests that measure a hard drives ability to operate in a multi-user environment.
The tests use different settings to mimic basic multi-user operations as they would play out on your server. Variances is read / write percentage as well as random / sequential reads are common in certain applications, Web Servers read nearly 100% of the time while Database Servers write a small amount of data.
The Workstation test is the only single user environment and will be similar to how you use your system at home.
The first generation Constellation SAS drive was ran on a controller and that gives the drive a bit of a performance advantage in some of these tests, but we can clearly see that the new Constellation.2 running on its native SATA bus is quite a bit faster than the previous generation drive.
Seagate ushers in generation changes every year and with each new year the performance of their products increases. Usually we see a gain in one area that trumps all others, but this year Seagate delivered performance and power improvements across the board. In addition to the increased performance and reduced power, Seagate also managed to double the capacity of the Constellation Series, making the Constellation.2 the best 2.5" form factor nearline drive available on the market today.
Seagate has also managed to keep the price of the new Constellation.2 in check and the new drive is being offered at a lower price than its predecessor at the time of launch. We weren't able to find the new Constellation.2 at many etail or retail shops just yet, but that will change over time, and as it does the price will decrease even more. At the time of writing PROVANTAGE listed the lowest price and our Constellation.2 1TB rang in at 206.93. 24 hours before we wrapped the article up it was listed at 216.99, so the prices are already starting to shift in the consumers favor.
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