Seagate kills 5400 rpm desktop drives, all Barracudas now 7200 rpm


"While it is lower power consumption, we're waking up to the fact that it doesn't save that much electricity," said David Burks, product marketing manager for Seagate's desktop drive division.

Burks said a single Barracuda LP drive costs about $1.70 per year in electricity, while a 7200 rpm drive costs about $1.90 -- just 20 cents more. At the same time, a 7200 rpm drive runs 30% to 33% faster than a 5200 rpm drive, so a user is "giving up a significant level of performance to get a small power savings," he said.

An artist's depiction of Seagate's new AcuTrac read/write head technology.

New tracking hardware, called AcuTrac Servo Technology, allows Seagate to pack 340,000 tracks into every inch across a Barracuda disk platter compared with 236,000 tracks on previous hard drive iterations. Each track is 75 nanometers, or 0.075 microns, in size. A nanometer is 1,000 times smaller than a micron, which is one-millionth of a meter. The typical human hair is 100 microns in width. A typical grain of salt is 60 microns across. A dust mite is 20 microns across.

Seagate was able to reduce the track size by adding dual piezoelectric nano-actuators (small motors) to the tip of its drive actuator arm, offering greater read-write stability. That stability is needed because 7200 rpm is the equivalent of a platter spinning at 75 mph generating wind speeds of 85 mph at the read-write head, according to Burks.