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Toshiba AL13SE Series 10k SAS 2.5-inch Enterprise HDD Review (Page 1)

Toshiba AL13SE Series 10k SAS 2.5-inch Enterprise HDD Review

Paul takes a close look at the Toshiba AL13SE series, a mainstay in the datacenter for high performance and mission-critical workloads.

Paul Alcorn | Mar 19, 2014 at 9:05 am CDT - 2 mins, 7 secs time to read this page
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Toshiba


Toshiba AL13SE Series 10k SAS 2.5-inch Enterprise HDD Review 01 |

The Toshiba AL13SE HDD Series is geared for use in mission-critical server and storage applications. The AL13SE comes in capacities of 300, 450, 600, and 900 GB in a 2.5-inch form factor. The drive features a SAS dual-port 6 Gb/s connection and a 64MB FIFO cache buffer. The Toshiba AL13SE spins at 10,500 RPM and features an average latency of 2.8ms.

The pressure from SSDs has forced the performance segment of the HDD market to be more competitive in terms of performance and price. We are continuing to observe plenty of market activity with the performance HDD segment in spite of the fact that many are predicting 2.5-inch drives will be usurped from the datacenter by SSDs.

IDC predicts the HDD TAM (Total Available Market) for the performance category (10k and 15k) will be double that of the SSD market by 2016. HDDs still hold a price versus capacity advantage, and we do not expect the HDD manufacturers to cede that market easily. Look for increased price competitiveness in the HDD performance segment in the future as the HDD crowd attempts to stave off the SSD invasion.

Users typically move to 10K HDDs for their faster speed, and the AL13SE is the first of Toshiba's 10k HDDs to employ a dual-stage head positioning actuator that provides a 32 percent increase in its sustained transfer rate. The SAS interface provides enhanced HA (High Availability) multipath, failover functionality, an average read seek time of 3.7 ms, and an average write seek time of 4.1.

One of the greatest advantages of 2.5-inch HDDs is their lower power consumption during operation. The AL13SE series also utilizes Supported Enhanced Power Condition State (SEPCS) to lower the RPM idle speed. SEPCS drops the idle power to 4.0 watts when the drive is not in use. We test the operational power of the drive in the following pages.

Backwards compatibility is important, and the drive features the industry-standard 512-byte sector size. There is also the notable inclusion of a SlimFITT (AL13SEL) version with a 3.5-inch adapter for deployment in 3.5-inch drive bays.

Reliability is a major factor in purchasing decisions, and the AL13SE features an improved head-disk proximity sensor that helps deliver a 2,000,000-hour Mean Time Before Failures (MTBF) rating. This is a 25 percent increase over previous-generation drives. The AL13SE is backed by an industry standard five-year warranty.

The Toshiba AL13SE has made its way into mid-range volume servers, mainstream storage arrays, blade, and rackmount servers and is primarily intended for mission-critical, power-conscious, and data intensive systems.

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:32 pm CDT

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Paul Alcorn


The quest for benchmark world records led Paul further and further down the overclocking rabbit hole. SSDs and RAID controllers were a big part of that equation, allowing him to push performance to the bleeding edge. Finding the fastest and most extreme storage solutions led to experience with a myriad of high-end enterprise devices. Soon testing SSDs and Enterprise RAID controllers at the limits of their performance became Paul's real passion, one that is carried out through writing articles and reviews.

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