1-Terabyte-Drive PCs Coming from Dell

Dell is the first computer system supplier to ship 1 terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) hard drives targeted at users needing to store large amounts of digital media. The higher capacity is particularly needed for storing video content, such as high-definition video. This will affect consumers first but then business, particularly media-related businesses and applications. It is a reversal of normal practice where business received higher-capacity disk drives first.

Dell vice president, Neil Hand said: "This type of capability used to be available only to the largest corporations. With the spectacular advancement in hard drives and the engineering in our systems, we're now able to bring it to consumers."

The first Dell PCs to use the drives will be its own Alienware-branded gaming PCs. XPS systems will then follow suit. A check on the US Alienware site shows four 1TB drives can be shipped. The drives are not mentioned on the UK site yet.

Dell will use Hitachi GST's 1TB Deskstar 7K1000 drive spinning at 7,200rpm with a 3GBit/s serial ATA interface. The drive uses perpendicular recording, has five platters, a read access time of 8.5msecs and a write time of 9.2msecs. It has a cache of 32MB and an 8.7ms average seek time.

Dell is also launching a 'video time capsule service'; users can upload videos to (www.studiodell.com) where Dell will store them, initially on the 1TB drives, for a claimed 50 years.

In the server area it is expected that capacity-centric or secondary online storage, with applications such as virtual tape libraries, will use 1TB drives. Primary online drive arrays will likely move to smaller format 2.5-inch drives with greater I/O bandwidth from the drive shelves. Disk arrays using 1TB drives will face a RAID rebuild time problem as re-building data on drives to recover from a failed drive will take longer, and increase the likelihood of a second drive failure during the rebuild, meaning lost data. This will hasten the move to RAID 6-type schemes which can cope with two consecutive drive failures in an array.

It is also to be expected that external USB-connected drives used for backup by manufacturers like La Cie will offer products with twice the capacity of current 500GB-drive ones.

Dell's 1TB drive is priced at $540 (around £300 at current exchange rates.)

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