Seagate is rebooting their Barracuda line of desktop hard drives with a new focus on simplicity and speed in addition to making their products more affordable and attractive. Seagate’s first step was to increase the density of their drives platters to 1TB which enables less platters (less cost) and more speed (due to higher density).
 
Seagate's new product strategy for 3.5" drives: The Power of One
Seagate’s new product strategy for 3.5" drives: The Power of One

The idea of having one Terabyte per disk, having one drive for every need and one simple elegant solution is what Seagate is labeling as ‘The Power of One’. We might also ad, the cost of one.

Simplifying the product line - single or multiple 1TB platters for hard drives from 250GB-3TB, single rotational speed - single product development expense
Simplifying the product line – single or multiple 1TB platters for hard drives from 250GB-3TB, single rotational speed – single product development expense

So, how is Seagate doing this? They’re reigning in the days of varied drive RPMs and capacities. Seagate is going to simplify their entire product line into a grand total of 8 drives for all purposes. This means that there will be some new 1TB offerings as well as some older sub-1TB offerings as well. The majority of the drives, though, will conform to the new uniformity of Seagate’s product line. The company is looking to phase out the smaller drives over time as capacities continue to grow larger.

The real uniformity between these drives is partially possible because Seagate has opted to nuke their line of 5900RPM ‘Low Power’ drives as they ran 30% slower and as a result provided 30% less performance. Seagate saw that their 7200RPM drives had gotten so close to the ‘Low Power’ drives in terms of power consumption that it no longer made sense to sacrifice so much performance for less than 3/4 of a watt.

True cost of Barracuda Green - 20 cents per year in savings for significantly worse performance
True cost of Barracuda Green – 20 cents per year in savings for significantly worse performance

As you can see on the image above, this is the clear explanation why 5900RPM drives simply don’t make any sense. For 5900RPM "Green" drive, you actually spend more energy while creating it - another line of qualification spends more manhours and electricity, different product labels spend additional color and resources and ultimately, savings you achieve in a year are less than the hard drive manufacturer had to spend into making a separate product line. Long story short – "Green Drives" are marketing effort, and Seagate is jumping out of that train. Time will tell how the competition will react, though.

All of the drives will also feature 64MB of cache which usually comes standard on more expensive larger drives as well as improved dual-core processors and Seagate’s OptiCache technology. By creating all of this uniformity, Seagate has improved upon their economies of scale and driven the MSRPs of these drives. The 3TB drive can be had for $179.99 MSRP while the 2TB can be had for $105.99 these translate to $0.06 per gigabyte and $0.05 per gigabyte. The below chart should further illustrate the prices and prices per gigabyte. This is in stark contrast to their current MSRP of their 3TB which is $309.99, with situation being even worse in Europe, with prices reaching 271.26 Euro, i.e. $371.74. Such drastic cuts in pricing will likely result in consumers getting a lot more storage for their money, once the hard drive shortage straightens itself out as a result of the Thailand floods. Once those floods subside and Western Digital can resume production, then prices have a chance to begin to stabilize as they are currently stratospheric.

New hard disk pricing - the 1TB platter drives bring the lowest price possible, with the 2TB drive being the most affordable
New hard disk pricing – the 1TB platter drives bring the lowest price possible, with the 2TB drive having the lowest cent/GB ratio

In addition to these price improvements, Seagate has also improved the reliability and performance of their Barracuda drives with a few important adjustments to their design. All of the new drives as we stated earlier will be using 64MB of DDR2 Cache as well as utilizing the latest SATA 3.0 (6Gbps). These improvements  in addition to the areal density and AccuTrac servo head technology allow the drive to be capable of a maximum data rate of 268 Megabytes per second (2,147 Mbps). While we most certainly don’t expect to get such speeds out of these drives, such claims are absolutely amazing considering the fact that many solid state drives are capable of such speeds as well.

This leads perfectly into Seagate’s other announcement. Seagate will be transitioning their entire Barracuda XT line of high-performance hard drives over to being hybrid drives. For those of you that don’t know hybrid drives do not run off of electricity and gasoline but rather are a combination of two different storage technologies. The hybrid drives from Seagate (like the Momentus XT) offer about 4GB of solid state storage to complement the spinning (500GB) hard disk drive. With the Barracuda XT’s we’re not quite sure what sizes Seagate will be using on their solid state part of the drive, but we assume it’ll likely be bigger than 4GB considering that the Momentus XT was only a 500GB laptop drive.

The benefits of a Hybrid drive are that it dips into the best of both worlds and gives you a lot of affordable storage while still giving you fast boot times and lower power consumption for menial tasks. Seagate has told us that they haven’t quite finalized everything with the Barracuda XT line reboot, but that they will be working on getting it out soon after the rebooted Barracuda line of hard drives has been released. Seagate is giving this to us to pass onto you guys as a sort-of heads up so that you know that’s coming soon.

Overall, we’re excited to see these developments in Seagate’s technologies and pricing and hopefully this will help drive down the prices of hard drives faster and make them affordable for the masses once again. We are really excited to test out the new 1TB platter drives in the 2TB and 3TB models and compare them to the drives we’ve already tested from both Seagate and Western Digital to see the differences.