A Faster, Denser Hard Drive Debuts

March 8, 2008 – 6:23 PM

The reorientation of hard drives has begun: The first drives to use perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology to pack more data into less space are out. And our tests reveal that they not only boost storage capacity but perform faster as well.

In our tests of the Seagate Momentus 5400.3 and its non-PMR 5400.2 predecessor, the PMR unit showed a modest boost overall, completing its runs in about 7 percent less time; results just for sustained throughput were even more impressive with a 15 to 17 percent gain. The PMR drive’s greater areal density has little effect on seek speed, a component of many of our tests, but helped when our tasks focused on sustained throughput with sizable files.

PMR aligns the magnetic markers on a hard-disk surface in a different way to increase areal density so you can store more data on every platter. Existing technology was approaching its areal density limits, and drive manufacturers spent several years working to overcome the problem. The result for you is more and cheaper room for your data–which is no small concern in a world moving to high-definition media.


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