We'll be comparing the performance of the Barracuda ES.2 with that of a slew of competitors, including some of the latest and greatest Serial ATA drives from Hitachi, Maxtor, Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital. These drives differ when it comes to external transfer rates, spindle speeds, cache sizes, platter densities, NCQ support, and capacity, all of which can have an impact on performance. Keep in mind the following differences as we move through our benchmarks:
|Max external transfer rate||Spindle speed||Cache size||Platter size||Capacity||Native Command Queuing?|
|Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ||150MB/s||7,200-RPM||8MB||80GB||160GB||Yes|
|Barracuda 7200.9 (160GB)||300MB/s||7,200-RPM||8MB||160GB||160GB||Yes|
|Barracuda 7200.9 (500GB)||300MB/s||7,200-RPM||16MB||125GB||500GB||Yes|
|Caviar SE16 (500GB)||300MB/s||7,200-RPM||16MB||125GB||500GB||Yes|
|Caviar SE16 (750GB)||300MB/s||7,200-RPM||16MB||188GB||750GB||Yes|
|Caviar RE2 (500GB)||300MB/s||7,200-RPM||16MB||125GB||500GB||Yes|
Note that the 250GB Caviar SE16 and the Raptor WD740GD lack support for Native Command Queuing. The WD740GD does support a form of command queuing known as Tagged Command Queuing (TCQ), but host controller and chipset support for TCQ is pretty thin. Our Intel 955X-based test platform doesn't support TCQ.
We have test results from several versions of Western Digital's Caviar SE16 and RE2. To avoid confusion, we'll be listing their capacities in parentheses in each of our graphs.
Since Seagate makes versions of the 7200.7 both with and without NCQ support, the 7200.7 in our tests appears as the "Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ" to clarify that it's the NCQ version of the drive. The other drives aren't explicitly labeled as NCQ drives because they're not available without NCQ support.
Finally, we should note that our WD1500ADFD has a slightly newer firmware revision than the Raptor X sample we've had since February 2006. The drives still share identical internals, but firmware optimizations could give our newer Raptor an edge over the X in some tests.
Performance data from such a daunting collection of drives can make our graphs a little hard to read, so I've highlighted the Barracuda ES.2 in bright yellow and its high-capacity competitors—the Barracuda 7200.11, 7200.10, and ES, the Deskstar 7K1000, the Caviar GP, and the Caviar SE16 and RE2 750GB—in pale yellow to set them apart from the others. You'll also find results from the Raptor WD1500ADFD highlighted in pale yellow to illustrate how the ES.2 compares to an enterprise-class SATA drive spinning at 10,000RPM. We also have two sets of IOMeter graphs: one with all the drives, and another with just the Barracuda ES.2 and its direct rivals. Most of our analysis will be limited to how the ES.2 compares with its direct rivals, so it should be easy to follow along.
Our testing methods
All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test system.
We used the following versions of our test applications:
- WorldBench 5.0
- Intel IOMeter v2004.07.30
- Xbit Labs File Copy Test v1.0 beta 13
- TCD Labs HD Tach v3.01
- Far Cry v1.3
- DOOM 3
- Intel iPEAK Storage Performance Toolkit 3.0
The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.
All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.