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Small drives cross performance threshold

Seagate's new 2.5-inch hard drive spins at 15,000rpm, matching a performance feature previously available only with 3.5-inch drives. Photo: Seagate's new Savvio drive

Seagate announced a new, faster class of 2.5-inch hard drives on Tuesday, an important part of the effort to get the smaller devices to replace the 3.5-inch drives that currently prevail in much of the server market.

Seagate's new Savvio 15K spins at 15,000 revolutions per minute, which means data can be found and retrieved faster than with preceding 10,000rpm 2.5-inch models.

That's important in particular for servers, which often run multiple jobs simultaneously and therefore need to access data scattered across the drive. And computing jobs often are constrained by the time it takes for a hard drive to start sending requested data as well as the speed with which it can send it.

The feature is arriving later than expected, though. Hewlett-Packard had hoped for 15K 2.5-inch drives by the end of 2005; the company is a major proponent of the smaller drives for its ProLiant line of x86 servers.

The 15K drives take up less room, which is important for small systems such as blade or rack-mounted servers, but Seagate also said the drives consume 30 percent less power than current 3.5-inch 15K drives.

The Savvio 15K drives are Serial Attached SCSI models geared for servers.

Seagate is shipping the drives only to computer makers right now. When it starts selling them more broadly later this quarter, it plans to announce a price.