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Storage Drive Review: STEC s620 vs. Seagate Constellation ES.3

Solid state drives offer speed and power advantages over a standard hard disk drive. The only downsides cited on solid state drives are that they cost quite a bit more and that there are issues with the read/write cycles in some drives.

Manufacturer STEC believes to have tackled the reliability problem with their new line of SSDs. Using a fast drive can be really beneficial in situations where there is a high I/O, like a database application with high transaction numbers. STEC’s s620 model stores 200 GB of data and makes use of 6 W of power, a figure that becomes important when a lot of drives are stacked together.

Seagate have also brought out a new enterprise SATA drive in the Constellation range called the ES.3. The drives have a 1.4 million hour mean time between failure rating, meaning that apparently it will last over 1300 years. The maximum sustained data transfer rate is 175 MB/s, which for a drive that doesn’t cost much is a pretty decent figure. It runs at 7200 RPM with 128 MB cache and makes use of the 6 Gb/s SATA interface.

Using a SATA disk means you forgo dual port capability. This means the Seagate Constellation drive is not suitable in a dual redundant controller configuration. However, you can configure the drives using RAID 5 with dual redundant power supplies and network paths to achieve a similar redundancy effect.

Enterprise Storage Forum pitted the two drives against one another in a benchmarking test to see how the STEC SSD compares to the Seagate SATA. To run the tests they used a Toshiba Portege R930 laptop on Windows 7 64-bit. They experimented with a number of disk reads and writes to represent different types of workloads, including normal NTFS traffic (4K), a standard Microsoft Exchange system (8K), a SQL Server database (64k) and a file restore operation (256K).

Their tests found that the STEC s620 was consistently faster than the Seagate ES.3. Differences in performance depended on the type of workload that was being performed. For example, in some tests the difference was 10:1, while in others the difference was marginal.

If a drive uses a lot of power then in the long term this will increase costs. If a drive has low power requirements then it means that cooling costs will be lower and the product should last longer. In the tests, the STEC s620 used 3.34 watts of power compared to the Seagate ES.3’s usage of 6.73 watts. When in a random continuous read state those figures change from 3.76 watts to 11.27 watts respectively – quite a leap for the Seagate drive, which is something to consider when there are multiple disks at work.

In conclusion, the Seagate Constellation ES.3 would be a good choice for cheap, reliable bulk storage. The STEC s620 is an economy device that is good for specialised applications like a boot disk or for an embedded application where there is low power and reliability is favoured. Enterprise Storage Forum that both drives do the job they set out to do well.


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