Seagate Technology continues to push the storage envelope for desktop and notebook users with two new product releases: a 500GB Serial ATA (SATA) drive and a 5400rpm notebook drive that offers a capacity of 160GB--double the largest capacity currently found in most notebook offerings.

Seagate is marketing the 500GB SATA drive (the vendor's latest addition to its NL35 Series SATA drives, which already include 250GB and 400GB models) as a bare drive, to the nearline RAID storage market. This 7200rpm drive offers a 16MB cache and full interface-bandwidth data-transfer capabilities. Seagate offers several white papers about making the most of this technology, which you can download from the NL35 Overview Web page.The white papers focus on enterprise uses for the high-capacity, high-performance SATA drives in tiered-storage applications. Although the white papers are obviously focused on Seagate products, they contain useful information for anyone implementing a tiered-storage solution from scratch. They provide a good overview of the pitfalls and issues facing a large-scale tiered-storage implementation.

Seagate is also offering the 500GB drive in its Pushbutton Backup External Storage Hard Drives line. These drives are similar to other vendors' products in that they provide a single-click backup solution, but the Seagate offering differentiates itself by its 7200rpm drives and 500GB capacity. Although Seagate offers its lower-capacity (200GB to 400GB) external backup drives in a USB 2.0 only or USB/FireWire combo, it appears that the 500GB drives will be available only in the combo package.

Seagate has also expanded its Momentus drive line, which features drive speeds from 4200rpm through 7200rpm, with the 5400rpm drives offering the highest capacities (up to 160GB) and support for Seagate's hardware-based Full Disc Encryption (FDE) technology, which provides security to mobile drives. (For more information about FDE, see "Seagate Makes Laptop Storage Secure and Simple".) The importance of this type of technology was all-too-aptly highlighted to me just last week when I received a letter from my financial investment manager (a top-tier firm) informing me that a notebook PC belonging to the firm had been stolen from an offsite location and that the notebook's hard drive contained data concerning my name and accounts.

Technology such as FDE can be used to reduce corporate exposure to such problems. (You can find an FDE product overview here.) The 160GB capacity will also help bring notebook storage in line with common desktop-storage capacities, and the 5400rpm drives are available in both SATA and standard ATA interfaces. Although the 7200rpm Momentus drives are available only in up to 100GB capacities, their high-performance interface and high data-transfer rate make them suitable for the workstation-class notebook computer that's become a more common request from users who need faster-than-average performance from their portable computers.

It's good to see Seagate continually introducing higher capacities and better performance into its product lines instead of simply letting products sit while the competition catches up. By continually driving the value/performance metric of storage, Seagate provides strong motivation to OEMs to provide improved value and performance to their customers as well.