Seagate May Sue Rival SSD Makers

The next battle in the war on SSDs may have just begun. Apparently Seagate are convinced that SSD makers such as Samsung and Intel are violating some of Seagate’s (and Western Digital’s) patents. The wizardry which relates to the way a storage device communicates with a computer is at stake, even though Seagate themselves don’t appear too taken with an SSD based future. CEO Bill Watkins is quoted as saying, “realistically, I just don’t see the flash notebook sell.” I would have to agree with that at the moment. Cost per GB, reliability and speed are among the many drawbacks currently facing solid state drives when compared to traditional hard disk drives. Once these issues are resolved then the need for regular backups will become all the more important in my eyes at least. There are currently many ways in which we can resurrect a failing hard drive but next to no ways to recover a failed SSD.

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1.6TB Ultra320 SCSI SSD

According to Engadget, BiTMICRO have announced a new solid state drive which packs in 1.6TB of storage into a 3.5″ form factor drive. The E-Disk Altima E3S320 promises sustained data transfer rates of up to 230MB per second and are also expected to be available in more modest 16GB varieties. Engadget suggest remortgaging your house which may not be too far wrong if current SSD costs are anything to go by.

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Hitachi Talks of 4TB Drives

Hitachi has apparently just started talking of their latest breakthrough in ridiculously HUGE capacity hard drives. These 4TB 3.5″ drives feature read/write heads that are 2,000 times smaller than a human hair. They also go on to mention that the same techology would allow a 1TB 2.5″ drive.

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Americans Start Stockpiling Hard Drives

It would appear that the ITC has launched a patent investigation concerning five manufacturers that could mean higher costs and supply difficulties in the states. The patents owned by a Californian couple cover the use of ceramic bonding tips on the internal wiring of the drives. Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard and Dell are all in the frame for importing the drives into America. In my opinion it looks like the patent only covers a very obvious progression in the manufacturing process which would likely have been reached independently. We should see how this pans out in the next few weeks.

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Magnetic Wobbles Main Cause of Unstable Disks

ITPro.co.uk reported yesterday that a new study has revealed some interesting information about why some hard drives fail. The main cause of drive failures is apparently a magnetic effect which causes the areas on the disc platters to change their polarity. This was previously thought to be the case but the new study goes into much more detail, even suggesting that the material used by manufacturers may have its part to play. This change in polarity then jumps to neighbouring tracks causing widespread data corruption. Known as magnetic avalanche, the process could be better described as magnetic wildfire or magnetic exlosion due to the fast and devastating effect it can have on our data. I wonder if this problem could be what is wrecking so many Seagate Momentus 2.5″ drives?

http://www.itpro.co.uk/news/120196/magnetic-wobbles-cause-disk-failure.html (Link now Broken, Provided for reference)

Samsung Start Manufacture of 64GB 1.8" SSDs

Samsung has today started production of it’s 64GB solid state drive. (How long until we see that in an iPod hack?…) These 1.8″ flash hard drives would be a welcome addition to any portable device, provided you keep regular backups. At least if the drives do fail you won’t have to put up with the heart wrenching click of death. (but good luck trying to desolder and then resolder all those chips in an ill-fated and expensive data recovery attempt.)

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ST96812AS Head Crash

See the gouge near the middle of the disk.
See the gouge near the middle of the disk.

Yet another attempted data recovery was thwarted today by the dreaded head crash. We have seen possible head problems with these drives and were not surprised when the drive didn’t come ready and identify. This particular drive, an ST96812AS from a MacBook Pro was giving off some interesting sound effects to say the least. Expecting the usual failed read/write head we took it into the cleanroom and removed the cover. This drive had clearly had a head crash. Not only was a large area of magnetic media forcefully gouged off by a stray head but there was also a faint scrape towards the outer edge. We have seen this minor damage on these drives before and still been able to recover some data, although the read/write heads don’t tend to last very long. Data recovery after a head crash like this one is impossible and will be a waste of donor parts and spare drives.

Hitachi Travelstar 5K250 Drive Hits 250GB

News of the Hitachi 5K250 drive was today posted to Engadget. This 5,400rpm drive now boasts capacity up to 250GB and has started shipping in volume. Coming in both SATA 3Gbps & 1.5Gbps interfaces. The drive also features Hitachi’s Bulk Data Encryption for protection if you were to lose you laptop (Or have it stolen!)

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