hard drive history

size still matters: is there ever enough?

IBM Deskstar 4

Photo: Red Hill.

IBM Deskstar 4 Family

The two drives in the Deskstar 4 family were identical except that the 3.6GB unit had only 5 heads. For no particular reason that we can think of, IBM didn't trouble to do the obvious and produce a three head or four head 2.1GB or 2.8GB version — one would have thought that if only two models were desired, they would have made them further apart in capacity.

For the second half of 1997, the 3.6GB Deskstar 4 was our most popular choice, which is unusual in an odd-sized drive: in general, the common capacities are the biggest sellers. For most of its life though, the 3.6GB Deskstar was about the same price as a 3.2GB drive — be it a Western Digital, a Seagate or, curiously, IBM's own 3.2GB Deskstar 3 — and this made it very hard to resist.

The 3.6GB Deskstar 4 also turned out to have the highest failure rate we have ever seen in an IBM drive — which was still pretty low! Many a lesser maker would have been more than happy with the record of the Deskstar 4.

Data rate103.8 Mbit/secSpin rate5400 RPM
Seek time9.5msBuffer96k
Platter capacity1.44GBInterfacemode 4
Read channelPRMLHead technologyMR
DCAA-336103.61GB5 heads****
DCAA-343304.33GB6 heads**