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Hitachi's Deskstar 7K250 Serial ATA hard drive

The Deskstar lives

ManufacturerHitachi Global Storage Technologies
ModelDeskstar 7K250
Price (250GB)US$219

A YEAR AND a half ago, IBM sold the bulk of its hard drive assets to Hitachi for a cool $2 billion. Those assets were spun into Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which has continued to develop IBM's former Deskstar ATA and Ultrastar SCSI lines. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies' latest addition to the Deskstar line is the 7K250, a 7,200-RPM Serial ATA hard drive available in capacities as large as 250GB. I snagged a 7K250 for testing, and I've put the drive through a punishing gauntlet of benchmarks against its Serial ATA competition to see how this latest Deskstar fares.

The drive
Before we get into the Deskstar 7K250's performance, let's have a look at the drive's spec sheet.

  Deskstar 7K250
Maximum internal transfer rate757Mbits/sec
Maximum external transfer rate150MB/sec
Average sustained transfer rate61.4MB/s
Average seek time (read)8.2ms
Average seek time (typical)8.5ms
Average rotational latency4.17ms
Spindle speed7,200-RPM
Cache size8MB
Platter size80GB
Available capacities80, 120, 160, 250GB
Serial ATA interfaceMarvell 88i8030 bridge
Warranty lengthThree  years

The 7K250's specs are pretty much what one would expect from a modern 7,200-RPM Serial ATA hard drive. Notice that Hitachi covers the drive with a three-year warranty. That fact should offer at least some peace of mind to those who have fallen victim to the old Deskstar GXP-series' propensity for click-of-death failures. Of course, a warranty can't rescue data from a dead drive.

Like most hard drives, the 7K250 isn't anything special to look at. In fact, the drive has a striking resemblance to a couple of old Deskstar 60GXP drives I have kicking around the Benchmarking Sweatshop.

Unlike my old 60GXPs, the 7K250 is available with a Serial ATA interface. The drive also comes with standard Serial ATA and four-pin Molex power connectors, though Hitachi cautions against using both power connectors at the same time; doing so will apparently result in drive failure.

Flipping the 7K250 reveals a printed circuit board with a smattering of chips.

Cache by Infineon

Bridging by Marvell

Hitachi taps Infineon chips for the 7K250's 8MB cache and uses Marvell's popular 88i8030 bridge to handle the drive's Serial ATA interface. Like just about every other Serial ATA drive on the market, the 7K250 is a bridged rather than native SATA implementation. In theory, bridging adds a layer of complexity and potential latency to the drive's Serial ATA interface that could impede performance. However, considering that Western Digital's bridged Serial ATA Raptors lead the market in Serial ATA performance, bridging hasn't been a concern for Serial ATA drives.