World’s first 3TB hard drive arrives… in USB 2.0 enclosure

Roughly 16 months have passed since the market got its first taste of two-terabyte hard drives. So much for Kryder’s Law, which predicted an annual doubling of areal density. By his count, we should be well into 4TB territory by now. Alas, desktop drives are still stuck at the 2TB mark.

Well, the internal ones are, anyway. With surprisingly little fanfare, Seagate has announced the world’s first 3TB hard drive. The only problem? It’s part of an external FreeAgent GoFlex line and comes with a USB 2.0 interface. Why the next-gen drive skips over USB 3.0 is beyond me, but Seagate does sell a GoFlex adapter with SuperSpeed connectivity for $40. The 3TB drive alone will set you back $250.

Drive makers tend to publish little in the way of specifications on their external hard drives, and Seagate is no different with this latest entry. I would expect that the drive’s spindle speed falls well short of 7,200 RPM, and it may even be slower than the 5,900-RPM spindle speed typical of Seagate’s low-power Barracuda LP family. The drive’s areal density isn’t mentioned, either, although I suspect we’re looking at four 750GB platters. We’ve asked Seagate for more information, and we’ll get back to you once we have it.

The 3TB FreeAgent is listed as in stock on Seagate’s website, but it doesn’t appear to be available elsewhere just yet. Seagate has confirmed that a 3TB internal drive meant for enterprise applications will be released before the end of the year. However, there’s no word yet on when the company’s Barracuda desktop models will swim into 3TB waters.

Comments closed
    • boing
    • 9 years ago

    Is it really 3 tb or is it two 1.5 tb harddrives in RAID?

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    Could be worse. Could be USB 1.

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 9 years ago

    Oh Grord! I’m just thinking of how long it would take to “bitlocker” it… It only took me around 23 hours to do the 1 TB one.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    Well i havent seen new capacities being introduced like this before!
    I expect they did it because they could not get great performance out of the drive thanks to having to run at a slow spindle speed. Would also explain why USB 2 is the default. God forbid id ever have to fill up a 3TB drive via USB2.
    Hopefully in a few months we’ll have a proper release with respectable specs and goodness.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Another link for Kryder’s Lawg{<:<}g §[<http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kryders-law<]§

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      It’s funny: that article is from 2005, so while it does a great job of capturing where we were and how we got there, the road ahead is a little murky:

      g[

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        Reminds me of “analysts” predicting mass world tablet usage based on a few months of iPad datag{<.<}g

          • UberGerbil
          • 9 years ago

          My favorite response to these kinds of extrapolations is from Disco Stu on The Simpsons:
          “Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If this trend continues… AAY!”

    • mczak
    • 9 years ago

    Looks to me like they aren’t releasing the internal version due to fear of complaints. If it’s external USB2, most people won’t try to boot from it, so with a new enough OS, it should just work with GPT partitioning which is required for such large HDs.
    But if it’s internal, people are much more likely to try to boot from it, which is only possible if you have a EFI bios.
    Still, I guess they could just add a ton of warning labels and just sell it…

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, this is what derailed Kryder’s Law at this point. We saw something similar with RAM in DOS days, when machines hit 1MB and stalled for quite a while because you couldn’t use anything more than that without jumping through hoops.

        • yuhong
        • 9 years ago

        Yea, IMO it was a big mistake not to design Multitasking DOS 4.0 (read Larry Osterman’s blog if you don’t know what that was) to run in 286 protected mode from the beginning. It would almost certainly have be ready by 1985.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      most *nix operating systems support booting from GPT disks without an EFI non-bios, I imagine they’re doing something creative with the MBR.

        • mczak
        • 9 years ago

        In fact I think nothing really creative with mbr is necessary for that. GPT disks contain a “protective MBR” which spans the whole disk (so no partition info unless that’s a ugly nonstandard hybrid MBR) which still contains boot code – that’s all the bios should need. You can also have BIOS boot partitions on GPT-formatted disks.
        It looks though not every OS supports booting using legacy bios for GPT disks. In particular, none of the windows versions do (for GPT disks they require EFI).

          • yuhong
          • 9 years ago

          Not to mention that the Int13 extensions has support for 64-bit LBA already.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    what is 1000 terabytes?

    • WillBach
    • 9 years ago

    USB2 isn’t so bad, especially with slows spindle speeds. This is for backing up movies to, not running an enterprise server. By my math it would take eight hours to fill the drive using FireWire 800. Not ideal, but not so horrible for the volume you get.

      • Mikael33
      • 9 years ago

      Yes, yes it is.
      USB 2.0 is painfully slow and given the size of it, it will be even more apparent if one is to use it as a backup drive. I hate how the majority of external drives are USB 2.0, that might of been ok when the STR what only slightly above the sustained bandwidth of USB 2.0, but even 5400RPM drives can push well over 70MB/s
      §[<https://techreport.com/articles.x/17708/4<]§

        • chasscF1
        • 9 years ago

        Wired is reporting that it is USB 3.0 capable, just not out of the box. You apparently have to pay $40 for an extra connector. Pretty lame.

          • continuum
          • 9 years ago

          Yep, highly lame. I tried to find an off-the-shelf 2.5″ external disk recently and ended up paying for the 1TB Seagate GoFlex ($149) plus another $30 for the USB 3.0 adapter. Sigh.

      • geekl33tgamer
      • 9 years ago

      Tried filling 3TB over USB 2? ETA is approx 16 hours assuming the transfer speed was current at 480 MBit/Sec (Which it isn’t, and I’ve not allow for overheads).

      Good luck with that. Call me when USB 3 or eSATA can be used…

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        But not all external storage is used in a way that requires complete filling or emptying in one go. If you’re using it for incremental backup you may be transferring less than a GB at a time; likewise media storage may be limited by the rate you can torrent files or rip DVDs or whatever. Yes, faster is (almost) always better (and all things being equal we’d rather have the faster interface, even if many of us don’t yet have a USB 3-capable mobo) but slower isn’t necessarily the deal-breaker you make it out to be.

          • geekl33tgamer
          • 9 years ago

          True, and maybe I was a touch critical. But like you say, faster is nearly always better.

          I’m never going to fill a 3TB in one go – It would take years of poor housekeeping and never deleting stuff to do it. However, making regular back-up’s of smaller stuff, like iTunes, Steam Games and some films is easily consuming some ~700GB or so of my 1.5TB Seagate Freeagent drive.

          Personally, the Steam and iTunes back-up’s are as slow as hell – They take many hours each week. Maybe I’m too impatient, but which ever way you cut it, most will welcome faster bus interfaces on things like this.

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            Do an incremental/differential/deduplication g{

        • OneArmedScissor
        • 9 years ago

        It would actually take more like 30 hours, in a best case scenario lol.

        But even with USB 3.0, it could still take somewhere in between 10-15 hours. The drive’s overall average speed isn’t exactly going to be an order of magnitude faster than USB 2.0.

          • geekl33tgamer
          • 9 years ago

          I thought as much. I quickly bust out my calculator for the theoretical times. This was assuming all 480MBit/Sec was used to copy data and the HDD was up to it. Never allowed for overheads, and I know there are loads. Exactly calculating that would be slightly harder as overheads vary by USB chip set type.

          Let’s just rely on the transfer time remaining bar in Windows instead. It’s nearly always 100% -[

    • Sargent Duck
    • 9 years ago

    heh, forget the stop watch, time to bust out the trusty calender!

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