hard drive history

1998: a year of transition

Quantum Fireball EL 5.1

Photo: Red Hill.

Quantum Fireball EL

An almost forgotten member of Quantum's long-running Fireball series of high-performance desktop drives, the EL seemed to come in and then be replaced by the Fireball EX in hardly any time at all. The major change was a set of improvements to the drive's robustness. This had been an area of concern with the older Fireball drives (TM, ST and SE) and was very welcome.

Performance was only slightly up on the previous Fireball SE, with a marginally higher internal data rate (from 158Mbit/sec to 162 Mbit/sec) and a bigger 512k on-drive cache. More cache was very much the fashion in 1999, despite no particular evidence that it did anything much for performance at that time. Perhaps the fashion started because RAM had become so cheap by then: when it costs practically nothing, why not use more of it?

Where the earlier Fireball ST and SE had both been industry performance leaders, the EL was merely competitive. As much because of the odd sizing as for any other reason, we never sold the EL new here at Red Hill. (Unusual sizes are always difficult to fit into a model range. It seems that the manufacturers know this, as it is rare to see a model outside of the standard sizes.)

Performance1.14Reliabilityno data
Data rate162 Mbit/secSpin rate5400 RPM
Seek time9.5msBuffer512k
Platter capacity2.56GBInterfaceATA-66
EL 2.52.56GB2 MR heads
EL 5.15.12GB4 MR heads
EL 7.67.67GB6 MR heads
EL 10.310.32GB8 MR heads