hard drive history

1999: maturity

Seagate U4

Photo: Red Hill.

Seagate U4

The Seagate U Series 4 — confusingly, the first of the U Series drives — looked very odd when it first arrived but soon showed itself to be firmly in the tradition of the Medalist 4500s: unfashionable, reasonably cheap, as reliable as sunrise, and generally quite sluggish.

On the whole, we didn't like U4s all that much, largely because of the quite noticeable speed difference between a U4 and competing products (initially the 6.4GB Western Digital and outgoing Seagate ST36422).

Nevertheless, we ended up using a reasonable number of them for a time, mostly the 6.4GB version, because the older, faster ST36422 went out of production and the Western Digital suffered from alternating bouts of stock shortage and too-high pricing. Eventually we switched to the Samsung Spinpoint 6.4, which was equally well-priced, noticeably faster and (as we gradually began to realise around this time) superbly reliable.

Data rate206 Mbit/secSpin rate5400 RPM
Claimed seek10.5msBuffer256k
Platter capacity4.3GBInterfaceATA-66
ST-34311A4.3GB2 GMR heads
ST-36421A6.4GB3 GMR heads**
ST-38421A8.4GB4 GMR heads