It's not all about SSDs when it comes to storage these days. 'Traditional' hard drives are still very much alive. Hitachi has proven this by introducing the first disks with a capacity of 4TB. Hardware.Info extensively tested two of them to see how good they are.
It's easy to get the impression that all innovations in terms of computer storage happen in the SSD segment, but conventional hard drive manufacturers have been developing something new too. In October 2010 we tested the first hard drives with a 3TB capacity, and now Hitachi has gone even further.
Hitachi uses five platters with a capacity of 800GB each, for a total of 4000 GB. This is a step forward in terms of data density, albeit not a huge one. Western Digital has been using four 750GB platters for a year-and-a-half now for its 3TB hard drive. This means that Hitachi's new hard drives have a density increase of 6.7 per cent compared to the previous most advanced drives. The Seagate 3TB hard drives have five 600GB platters.
The 7K4000 and 5K400 are both based on the same platters, so the difference in RPM is what sets the two drives apart. Both hard drives use a SATA 600 interface. The 5K4000 has 32MB cache and the 7K4000 doubles that to 64MB.
There is one thing you need to keep in mind with 4TB and also 3TB hard drives, and that is that you cannot format the drives according to the traditional MBR (Master Boot Record) system. Instead you have to utilise so-called GPT partitions (GUID Partition Table). GUID stands for globally unique identifier. Nowadays this doesn't make a huge difference though, since all SATA 600 controllers are compatible, all recent motherboards use an EFI BIOS, and all new versions of Windows and Mac OS are also compatible. You can read the rest of Hitachi 7K4000 / 5K4000 4 TB preview on Hardware.info.