Running out of disk space with a 20 GB hard disk? Or, perhaps your ATA-33/66 or SCSI hard drive is the bottleneck in an otherwise fast workstation or server? Then you’re one of those rare people who needs the biggest and fastest hard disk money can buy.
Seagate’s Cheetah ST173404LW is the veritable MechaGodzilla of disk drives. It weighs in at 73 GB, is equipped with a 16 MB cache, spins at 10,000 revolutions per minute, and is able to spit and suck data at a peak transfer rate of 160 MB per second.
This monster is made for truly the most demanding tasks: high availability web sites, enterprise database servers, and digital video applications. This drive can do it all, and really fast, though at a price. If you want to join the 70 GB UltraSCSI club, you’ll have to fork out around $1,150 street, plus the cost of the Ultra-160 Low- Voltage Differential (LVD) SCSI adapter, and a beefed-up power supply, which is needed to drive this beast.
But, if you’ve got these demanding needs, Seagate’s fourth generation Cheetah is worth every penny, and it won’t let you down. Rated at 1.2 million hours Mean-Time Between Failure, and bundled with five-year warranty, you can expect your investment to drag you through the long haul. It’s probably the last disk you are going to need for a very long time.
Getting it Up and Running
Setting up this mammoth drive was a cinch. We simply popped an Adaptec 19160 32-bit Ultra160 SCSI-3 adapter into our Athlon server, attached a single-ended Ultra160 cable (this is very important in order to have proper termination — an Ultra2 cable just won’t do the job), mounted the drive in the case, and, finally, attached the power connector. When we booted the system, the SCSI adapter automatically recognized and initialized the drive at 160 Mbps.
After we booted Linux from an existing IDE hard disk, we created several large partitions on the drive with cfdisk and formatted several file systems with mkfs. Amazingly, formatting 10 GB and 20 GB partitions took only seconds. There’s no decent Linux disk benchmark, so we weren’t able to do any accurate transfer tests. However, from limited testing (transferring really large network file copies across SMB and NFS shares and moving large amounts of files across internal ext2 and reiserfs volumes), we could plainly see that this drive was a screamer.
The Bottom Line
Our only beef, other than the usual kvetching about it’s rather high price (but hey, you know what they say: if you have to ask, you can’t afford it), is that the drive is described in the Seagate marketing literature as a half-height, 3.5 inch drive. We found that when mounted with rails in our full-tower case, it took up a full drove bay and a half.
Finally, the drive also makes a good amount of noise when it is running. But, if you’re the macho type, having a drive this massive — that sounds like a jet engine when it spins up — is probably akin to owning a geek status symbol. If you need a fast, powerful, and large disk drive (and can afford it) the Seagate Cheetah ST173404LW is certainly the way to go.
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