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Maxtor's Atlas 10K V SCSI hard drive


Double the pleasure per platter
— 12:00 AM on September 22, 2004

ManufacturerMaxtor
ModelAtlas 10K V
AvailabilityQ4'04

ALTHOUGH SCSI DRIVES have long boasted higher reliability, longer warranties, faster spindle speeds, and generally better performance than IDE and Serial ATA drives, SCSI storage density has been one step behind. Today's largest Serial ATA drives offer 400GB of storage capacity, and while these exotic monsters are rare, 200-250GB SATA drives are widely available for as low as $130. In the SCSI world, most drives top out at around 147GB. They generally spin at 10,000RPM—nearly 40% faster than high-capacity Serial ATA and IDE drives—but lower capacities make the drives less appealing to those looking to maximize storage density.

Fortunately, help is on the way for SCSI fans seeking higher capacities. Maxtor's new Atlas 10K V is packed with 73.5GB platters and available in capacities up to 300GB. With a 10K-RPM spindle speed, seek times between 4.0 and 4.9ms, and a maximum sustained transfer rate of 89MB/sec, the Atlas 10K V should be no slouch when it comes to performance, either. Read on for more on what the Atlas 10K V offers and how its performance compares to a handful of 10K and 15K-RPM SCSI drives, plus a couple of Serial ATA Raptors.

The specs
Before diving into the Atlas 10K V, let's have a quick look at how the drive's specs compare with its predecessor, the Atlas 10K IV.

  Atlas 10K IV Atlas 10K V
Maximum external transfer rate320MB/sec
Maximum sustained transfer rate72MB/s89MB/s
Average seek time (read)4.3-4.4ms4.0-4.4ms
Average seek time (typical)4.8-4.9ms4.5-4.9ms
Average rotational latency3ms
Spindle speed10,000-RPM
Cache size8MB
Platter size36.7GB73.5GB
Available capacities36.7, 73.5, 147.1GB73.5, 147.1, 300GB
Idle acoustics3.2-3.4 bels
Idle power consumption7.8-10.3W7.9-10.8W
Mean Time To Failure1.2 million hours1.4 million hours
Warranty lengthFive   years

There are a couple of important things to note here. First, the Atlas 10K V's maximum sustained transfer rate is 24% higher than its predecessor. That, combined with slightly lower seek times, gives the V an immediate performance advantage over the IV. The Atlas 10K V doubles the IV's storage capacity per platter. The drive will be available in 73.5, 147.1, and 300GB capacities, all of which share the same 10K-RPM spindle speed and 8MB cache.

Another important metric to note is the Atlas 10K V's 1.4 million hour Mean Time To Failure (MTTF). Most SCSI drives, including Atlas 10K IV, have a MTTF of only 1.2 million hours. Despite its longer MTTF, the Atlas 10K V is covered by the same five-year warranty as its predecessor. Five-year warranties are pretty standard for SCSI drives, but with Seagate now offering five years of coverage for all internal hard drives, including IDE and Serial ATA models, SCSI drive manufacturers might want to consider boosting drive warranties to six or seven years. Maxtor's IDE and Serial ATA hard drive warranties top out at only three years, though.

Since I know there are a few SCSI fetishists out there, here are a few nudies of the drive:


The Atlas 10K V from above


Bottoms-up


Power and interface connectors for our 68-pin sample


Production drives coming soon

Atlas 10K V drives will begin shipping shortly. They should be available in the distribution channel and from online outlets early in the fourth quarter of this year. The drive we're looking at today is an evaluation sample that Maxtor tells me has identical hardware and firmware to production models.