January 25, 2011, 2:07 PM — Hitachi is not the first storage vendor to bring a 3TB drive to market. However, it is the first to introduce an internal 3TB drive reliable enough for hardcore business use.
A press release from Hitachi GST proclaims, "Committed to the growing market for cost-effective, capacity-optimized drives, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST) today introduced its new enterprise-class, 3.5-inch, 3TB Ultrastar 7K3000 drive family--the world's first and only 7,200 RPM drive family rated at 2.0 million hours MTBF and backed by a five-year limited warranty."
The MTBF stands for mean time between failure. Essentially, it is the number of hours the drive is expected to be able to function within proper limits before crashing. It is a measure of the overall reliability of the drive, and it is an important stat to consider for business critical servers and data storage.
There are other 3TB drives out there, so in terms of total storage capacity this new Hitachi drive is not revolutionary. However, drives like the Seagate GoFlex are external drives that are not built to the more rigorous specifications of reliability that businesses demand. There are also drives like the 3TB Western Digital Caviar Green HD which is internal, but has half the data transfer rate and nowhere near the MTBF of the Hitachi drive. These drives serve a purpose, and the external drives in particular can be great tools for backing up data and storing it in a more secure or offsite location. But, they don't really have a place in a business critical data center.
Reliability is not the only factor to consider, though. The Hitachi GST press release explains how the benefits of the new drives impact the bottom line. "Today these 2.5-inch drives cost roughly twice the dollars per GB ($/GB) of 3TB, 3.5-inch 7,200 RPM drives with 66% less capacity. To reach the same capacity as a 3TB, 3.5-inch Ultrastar 7K3000 drive, customers would have to purchase three 1TB 2.5-inch 7,200 RPM drives, which will consume up to 170% higher watts to power the drives and will occupy three times the storage array slots."
If you are looking for massive storage capacity on drives you can trust your most critical data on, or looking for ways to consolidate drives and servers to cut back on the power and cooling requirements in your data center--as well as the physical space occupied--these new Hitachi drives are definitely worth checking out.