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  1. Technology
November 11, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Just as Quantum Corp starts its assault on Scotts Valley, California-based Seagate Technology Inc’s traditional high capacity market, Seagate has announced a clutch of high performance products for the desk top and portable market. The Decathlon family of 3.5 disk drives are aimed at high performance personal computers; and the Marathon 2.5 disk drive family is for notebook and portable machines. The Decathlon drives provide storage that can handle video, three dimensional and graphics multimedia applications. The Decathlon 850, ST5850A, is a 5,400 RPM, two-platter 850Mb formatted-capacity disk drive. Seagate says it has with the fastest performance of any AT-interface drive on the market. The average seek time is 11mS, latency is 5.56mS. The drive is built around Seagate’s mini-3.5 form factor, which needs 35% less space than the conventional low-profile 3.5 form factor, enabling smaller system chassis footprints and fanless systems to be built. The ST5850A has the same technology as Seagate’s higher performance Hawk line of 3.5 disk drives and is aimed squarely at the increasing number of personal computers sporting high performance microprocessors. Seagate says the Decathlon 850’s performance has been achieved by the use of a faster, lower latency 5,400 rpm spindle speed, the 16.6Mbps Fast ATA-2 interface, an embedded servo and a 256Kb segmented data cache. To keep costs down, Seagate used conventional component technologies such as inductive thin-film heads and aluminium platters. As an added bonus, Seagate says the drive is one of the quietest in the market. Evaluation units of the ST5850A are available now with volume scheduled for December. Evaluation units will go for $400 each. Glass platters The 2.5 Marathon 420sl is the first Seagate drive to incorporate Partial-Response, Maximum-Likelihood read channel technology and is also the first product from the company built with glass-substrate platters. Glass platters are more durable than are aluminium-substrate disks as they have a harder surface that is more resilient to shocks such as those that may be caused by banging or dropping the machine and it has a smoother surface texture, enabling the magneto-resistive heads to fly closer to the media. Lower head flight heights enable greater capacities per platter while contributing to better read signals when conventional inductive head technology is used. The drive has a Fast ATA-2 standard interface that can transfer data at speeds up to 16.6Mbps in systems with VESA-compliant or Peripheral Component Interface local bus standard architectures. The two-platter drive features a 4,500 rpm disk rotational speed, faster than previous models in the Marathon family. The higher spin rate yields a 6.7mS latency for faster average access to data. The Marathon 420SL has an average seek time of 16mS and an internal data rate of up to 29.5Mbps. For additional shock protection, the Marathon family also incorporates Seagate’s Saferite motion-sensing technology that prevents data loss from shocks during system operation. The Marathon 420sl can sustain an operating shock of up to 100Gs, a non-operating shock of 300Gs. The Marathon 420sl, ST9420AG will be available for evaluation and production in the first quarter of calendar 1995. Evaluation units are $500 each.

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