Monday, March 20, 2006

Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 300Gb hard disk

This is going to be one of those entries where I wax nostalgic about the good old days. Except for the fact that these are the best of days when it comes to storage.

Putting aside the Osborne 1 for a moment, the first PC that I ever tried to add hard disk storage to was a home-built Hanafi 86 - an IBM PC clone with a dubious BIOS running an Intel 8086 chip at the princely speed of 8mhz.

The native storage on this beast consisted of half-height 5.25" floppy disk drives with a capacity of 360K. I was able to load DOS, dBase II, and WordStar all on one floppy, and keep data on the second. Now that was computing.

As software got more complicated and larger, the floppy became a major bottleneck. They were slow, noisy (you could hear the head move from track to track), and low capacity. The dream was to get a hard disk, but the problem was cost. A 10Mb (yes, megabyte, not gigabyte) hard disk was US$1,000, roughly half the price of the entire computer.

Fast forward to today, and I just picked up a new Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 SATA II 300Gb hard disk for the astonishing sum of S$195 from the folks at Fuwell. (and no, don't try to say the name really fast, you might hurt yourself)

This unit has a 16mb cache, and is rated as one of the quietest drives available. Performance is rated highly due to the cache, interface, and Native Command queuing (NCQ). The spec sheet is here.

Suffice to say that things have come a long way. The cache memory is larger than the entire drive of days past. The drive cable is now a stylish thin red part that looks more like a phone cable than anything else. Gone are the interface cards and ribbon cables of yore. More importantly, the cost per megabyte of storage has gone from $161/Mb to .065/Mb.

The disk drive industry has remained cut throat, with thin margins, rapid innovation, and frequent mergers and acquisitions.

Contrast that amazing price/performance trend with what has been going on with the operating system. Convicted monopolist Microsoft sold DOS for $50, Windows 1.0 for $65, and XP Pro will set you back US$250 minimum.

Seems like there may be something to this anti-trust stuff after all...

No comments: