hard drive history

1999: maturity

Western Digital Expert

Photo: Red Hill.

1999 Drive of the Year

IBM Deskstar 22GXP

Western Digital Expert

For most of the year, these were simply the fastest things available in IDE.

Seagate had been the first with a 7200 RPM IDE drive; quickly followed by IBM and, surprisingly, Maxtor — but none of the first generation 7200s gave the quantum performance leap that the 22GXP did. This was the first second-generation 7200 RPM drive, easily faster than any of the previous designs, and the Deskstar 22GXP was the drive to have in '99.

More correctly, we should say the Deskstar 22GXP or the Western Digital Expert: the two drives were identical in all but name. Starting with this drive, Western Digital began using IBM for design services and component supply, and the Expert was essentially an IBM Deskstar 22GXP manufactured under license.

In practice, the Expert and the 22GXP were interchangeable. Badging aside, it is almost impossible to tell them apart; only under close inspection can very small differences on the circuit board be seen. Here at Red Hill we didn't distinguish between the two; we always carried one or other in stock, but it mattered not at all which of the two.

The Expert/GXP twins were phenomenally fast, easily the fastest IDE drives available until the Quantum Fireball Plus arrived, and even then the performance difference between a Fireball Plus, a 22GXP, and an Expert was tiny. Any one of the three was an excellent choice. Best of all, for the southern winter of 1999 the high-performance IDE market was split three ways: Maxtor was off the pace and traditional market leader Seagate had abandoned it for the time being, but Quantum, Western Digital and IBM had to compete on price. This was great news for buyers with a taste for performance.

Data rate224.3 Mbit/secSpin rate7200 RPM
Seek time9.0msBuffer2MB
Platter capacity4.55GBInterfaceATA-66
AC291009.1GB4 GMR heads**
AC31350013.5GB6 MR heads*
AC41800018.0GB8 MR heads**
DJNA-37180018.0GB4 MR heads*
DJNA-37220022.0GB6 MR heads