Timeline: 2003 - 2008
2003 - 2008
- Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) was introduced to replace the older IDE interface (Integrated Drive Electronics). SATA's main advantages over PATA are faster transfer of data, hot swapping, thinner cables and hence better ventilation within the casing, and lastly, more reliable operation.
Still, SATA was not without its flaws, which led to the introduction of SATA II or SATA 3.0Gbps. SATA II's main improvement is the implementation of Native Command Queuing (NCQ), which helps improve multi-tasking performance. Its throughput of 300MB/s is also twice that of its predecessor.
- Shortly after SATA was introduced, Seagate rolled out the world's first SATA hard drive - Seagate Barracuda ATA V Plus (7200 RPM) . We were not too impressed by its performance, seeing that it even lost to some of the older parallel ATA hard drives . Clearly, the drive was not yet taking full advantage of the added bandwidth that SATA provided.
- Hot on the footsteps of Seagate, Western Digital announced the Western Digital Raptor WD360GD (SATA) . Spinning at 10,000 RPM, it offered SCSI-like performance at a more affordable price. As such, we saw no reason not to give it the full 5 stars.
- The world's first 15,000 RPM drive was finally launched by Seagate - the Seagate Cheetah 15K.3. However, the 15,000 segment was not theirs alone as Maxtor too had their own 15,000 RPM drive - the Maxtor Atlas 15K. Hence, we put these two head-to-head to see which was best. - Maxtor Atlas 15K vs. Seagate Cheetah 15K.3 . The Cheetah lived up to its name and trumped the Atlas in almost all of the tests. It was so good that we ended up giving it our Best Performance award.
- 2003 saw many improvements in hard drive technology and there was more to come, the Hitachi Travelstar 7K60 (7200RPM) was not only the first 2.5-inch hard drive, but also the first to use GMR to achieve a disk areal density of up to 50Gbits/sq.inch. In short, this is a laptop hard disk offering desktop levels of performance. Needless to say, it garnered the full 5 stars from us.
- Western Digital announced the Western Digital Raptor WD740GD (SATA) which was a further improvement on the earlier Western Digital Raptor WD360GD (SATA) . And like its predecessor, it was fast, so much so that it was probably the fastest available hard drive available for desktops at that time. 5 stars!
- Although flash memory had, by then, became the storage solution of choice amongst many, they continued to lack in terms of raw capacity. In light of this, Seagate introduced a very unique little product - Seagate 5.0GB Pocket Hard Drive - so called because it was small enough to fit into your pockets.
- What's more amazing, however, was that it offered 5GB of storage. How is that possible you might wonder? The answer to this is that it employed a special 1-inch hard drive. Equally amazing was that despite its small size, it offered rather decent performance, and the only thing that kept it from the full 5 stars was its exorbitant price.
- Toshiba, together with Samsung, formed the Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology Corporation. This company specializes in manufacturing optical disc drives. Curiously, Toshiba owns 51% of its company stock, whereas the remaining 49% was owned by Samsung.
- Toshiba became the first company to manufacture a commercial hard disk making use of Perpendicular Magnetic Recording technology (PMR). PMR is a technology that is capable of increasing the storage density of hard disks by up to three times. Seagate soon followed suit and even mentioned that its subsequent models would be made using this technology.
- One of the most interesting storage solutions we reviewed all year was the Gigabyte i-RAM , a storage card which employed standard computer RAM as a hard disk. While the idea of using solid state memory as a hard disk was not new, credit must be given where credit was due, so kudos to Gigabyte for being the one of the first to come up with a product like this.
As expected, the i-RAM smashed, trampled, and then spat on the 10,000 RPM Western Digital Raptor that was its benchmarking partner. For sheer speed, it was unmatched, and as such, it was awarded our Most Innovative Product Award.
- The first Blu-ray and HD-DVD players and movies were sold. A single layer, single sided HD-DVD can hold up 15GB worth of data, over three times more than a standard DVD. A single layer, single sided Blu-ray disc on the other hand can hold 25GB, about five times as much.
- SD secured their position as the leading memory card by announcing the SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity). These high memory cards could provide up to 32GB of storage, much more than SD's competitors had to offer.
- Not wanting to be left out, Sony and NEC together formed Sony NEC Optiarc, a company that also specializes in manufacturing optical disc drives for OEM desktops and notebooks.
- Maxtor, the world's third largest manufacturer of hard disks, was acquired by Seagate for US$1.9 billion. This made Seagate the undisputed juggernaut amongst hard disk manufacturers.
- Consumer 3.5" hard disks finally breached the 1 terabyte mark. The first consumer 1TB drive was Hitachi's Deskstar 7K1000 and it was made possible because of PMR technology.
- On January 4th, Warner Bros. pledged support to Blu-ray, stating that it would stop releasing movies on the HD-DVD format after May 2008. With the largest movie studio backing Blu-ray, HD-DVD was officially dead.
- Seagate, using PMR technology, announced a 1.5TB hard disk. It marked a 500GB jump in capacity, the largest ever in the last five decades of hard disk evolution.