hard drive history

1999: maturity

Seagate Barracuda ATA

Photo: Red Hill.

Seagate Barracuda ATA

This excellent drive marked Seagate's long overdue return to the high-speed IDE market. Seagate had pioneered that market, and then suddenly abandoned it, dropping the Medalist 7200 with neither warning nor replacement.

The Barracuda ATA was a formidable performer; for quite some time it was comfortably the fastest IDE drive available, and in typical Seagate style it could be very reasonably priced. Initially it was said that the Barracuda ATA would sell for the same price as most 5400 RPM drives. That was never on the cards — although years before Seagate had achieved something rather like it with the wonderful old Decathlon 850 — but the big fish was certainly very reasonable.

We expected that by winter 2000, most of our systems would ship with 7200 RPM drives. In fact, this did not occur, primarily because of the consistent out-of-stocks experienced by all the drive makers, Seagate included. There was never any doubt that the 7200 RPM IDE market would keep on growing as the years rolled past, and no major manufacturer could afford to ignore it, but they all really needed to pay more attention to balancing supply and demand. (In fairness, this must be a terribly difficult task: it takes a very long time and costs an enormous amount to tool up a new production line for a high-tech product like a hard disc drive.)

Data rate323 Mbit/secSpin rate7200 RPM
Seek time8.0msBufferk
Platter capacity6.8GBInterfaceATA-66
ST-320430A20.2GB6 GMR heads**
ST-328040A28.0GB8 GMR heads*