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Maxtor Atlas 15K vs. Seagate Cheetah 15K.3
By CPU-zilla
Category : Storage
Published by Jimmy Tang on Tuesday, 12th August, 2003


The Battle For 15K Supremacy

Drives that spin at 15,000RPM are mainly targeted at the enterprise segment as it's usually the kind of storage solution that could deliver high data throughput which large organizations require. Such drives are normally priced at a premium although the capacities offered are always lower than the desktop variants. What the enterprise IT manager require is something that's reliable and fast.

Drives with 15,000RPM spindle speed are usually offered in two types of high performance interfaces; either in Ultra320 SCSI or Fibre Channel. High performance hard drives that come with Fibre Channel interface are usually more expensive than those with Ultra320 SCSI and are rarely found in the retail channel. The more common Ultra320 SCSI interface are those that's currently populating most of the store shelves, thanks to the high penetration of SCSI controllers. In fact, prices of SCSI hard drives have dropped quite significantly over the years simply because Ultra320 SCSI controllers are so widely accepted, available and affordable today.

Today's users are those that want the best in performance especially when it comes to demanding workstation-type applications. Users who use their high-end PCs for video editing are certainly the target group for 15,000RPM SCSI drives while not forgetting large enterprises who need arrays of such devices for high-speed storage.

Currently, there are two prominent players in the 15,000RPM storage space. One of which is Seagate, whose Cheetah branding has alwyas been associated with fast and speedy SCSI hard disk drives. The other player is Maxtor, with its Atlas 15K which was launched in about the same time frame as the Seagate Cheetah 15K.3. Hitachi also offer SCSI hard disk drives at 15,000RPM speeds but they have been pretty slow with releases lately. Fujitsu also have a foot in this market with their enterprise and mobile hard disk drives. However, they are not that popular with users in this region, so we'll be excluding them from this comparison for the time being.

Here's a look at the technical specifications of the two contenders :-

Maxtor Atlas 15K and Seagate Cheetah 15K.3 Technical Specifications
  Maxtor Atlas 15K Seagate Cheetah 15K.3
Interface Ultra320 SCSI (68-pin Wide LVD) Ultra320 SCSI (68-pin Wide LVD)
Capacity 73.4 Gigabyte 73.4 Gigabytes
Model No. 8C073L0 ST373453LW
Number of Disks 4 4
Number of Heads 8 8
Bytes per Sector 512 512
Average Read Seek 3.4 ms 3.6 ms
Track-to-Track Seek 0.3 ms (read), 0.5 ms (write) 0.2 ms (read), 0.4 ms (write)
Full Stroke Read Seek 8.0 ms N/A
Average Latency 2 ms 2 ms
Rotational Speed 15,000 RPM 15,000 RPM
Data Transfer Rate
  • 860 Mbits/sec (internal)
  • 100 MBytes/sec (to/from media)
  • 891 Mbits/sec (internal, max)
  • 86 MBytes/sec (formatted, max)
  • 320 MBytes/sec (I/O)
  • Buffer 8 MB 8 MB
    Power Requirements 11 W (idle) 12 W (idle)
    Weight 810 g 800 g


    Maxtor Atlas 15K - the back view.


    Seagate Cheetah 15K.3 - the back view.

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