Seagate boosts encrypted drive capacities, speeds


— 1:02 PM on November 10, 2008

Almost two years after announcing Momentus 5400 FDE.2 hard drives with full-disk encryption capabilities, Seagate has introduced two new higher-capacity models. The company has already begun shipping a Momentus 5400 FDE.3 mechanical hard drive with a 320GB capacity, and it says a 500GB variant will follow in the December-January time frame. Both drives have the same 5,400-RPM spindle speeds and 8MB cache sizes as their predecessors.

There's an interesting twist, though: Seagate tells us the FDE.2 series shipped to a "handful of channel players and OEMs" and was only available in "enterprise-managed" form, which supposedly required sophisticated management software. With the FDE.3 series, Seagate will also offer cheaper, more consumer-oriented "standalone BIOS mode" drives that will use the host system's BIOS password to authenticate. Those drives should ship shortly, and Seagate tells us they'll become available worldwide just like the company's traditional offerings.

On top of that, Seagate says it has started shipping Momentus FDE hard drives with 7,200-RPM spindle speeds to Dell. According to the official spec sheet, these drives come in capacities of up to 320GB and have 16MB of cache (compared to 8MB for the 5,400-RPM models).

Finally, Seagate notes that small and medium businesses can now use McAfee's ePolicy Orchestrator software to manage both Momentus FDE offerings and older drives without hardware encryption support. Of course, while Seagate says users probably won't notice the ~5% performance hit from hardware encryption, software encryption will involve much greater overhead—one of the company's presentation slides quotes a ~32% overall hit in Futuremark's PCMark, although it doesn't mention the kind of hardware involved.

 
   
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