The State of the 2.5″ SAS Market

Posted on September 27, 2007

UPDATE: This blog entry discusses 2.5 inch SAS drives, NOT 3.5″. Yes, 300GB 3.5″ SAS disks are available, but in this entry we are solely concerned with 2.5″ drives compatible with Sun Fire Galaxy Servers and other 2.5″ based servers. Please don’t mail me telling me that 300GB SAS Drives exist, look close, they are all 3.5″ drives which I do not discuss here.

In my last post regarding the new Intel based Sun Fire systems (X4150 andX4450) I said: “With stock disks coming in 73GB or 146GB, and the ability to purchase larger drives on the open market.” Now, I swear that I’ve seen 300GB 2.5″ SAS disks on the market but a quick search while writing the blog entry and I couldn’t find them. Rather than lead my storage savvy readers wrong I thought I’d do some research on the subject and share my findings.

So, lets go through the disk manufacturers. First up, the venerable Seagate. Their SAS lines divided into families: Savvio for 2.5″ enterprise drives, Cheetah for 3.5″ enterprise drives, and Barracuda ES for enterprise class sub-10K RPM drives. So, Savvio breaks down into 2 sub-classes:

    Savvio 15K: 15K RPM SAS 3.0GB

  • 36GB
  • 73GB
    Savvio 10K.2: 10K RPM SAS 3.0GB

  • 73GB
  • 146GB

Ok, no 200GB+ drives from Seagate (yet).

Next up, Hitachi the owner of what was IBM’s HDD business. Here we have:

    Hitachi UltraStor:

  • Ultrastar C10K147: 10K RPM 3.0GB SAS 73GB
  • Ultrastar C10K147: 10K RPM 3.0GB SAS 147GB

Again, nothing greater than 200GB from Hitachi. Moving on…

Western Digital is focused on the desktop space. The best they can do is that popular enthuast drive WD Raptor 150GB 10K RPM SATA. This drive is awesome, btw, its the only drive I’ve ever seen Windows (bleh) ever be even moderately performant on. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but based on WD’s website they don’t offer any SAS, SCSI or FC disks anymore. So no help from WD.

Maxtor, another consumer/desktop focused drive maker. They aren’t any help because, if you haven’t already heard, they were acquired by Seagate.

Next up, Samsung. I don’t see these much, but they are a HDD manufacturer. Their “Enterprise Class” drives are SATA only, no SAS at all. So, no help there. They do, however, have an interesting new offering to check out: Hybrid HDD – FlashON. These are slow 5,400 and 7,200 RPM 1.5Gb SATA drives that incorporate Flash as a write buffer allowing faster resume, boot, and allow power savings by powering down the drive untill the write buffer needs flushing. Interesting idea but the capacities are really small, the largest drive is 160GB. Worth a look though.

And that brings us to the final manufacturer, Fujitsu. They have 3 drives…

    Fujitsu Enterprise Class Drives:

  • MBC2073: 2.5-Inch, 15K, SAS available in 36GB and 73GB.
  • MBB2147: 2.5-Inch, 10K, SAS available in 73GB and 147GB.
  • MAY2073: 2.5-Inch, 10K, SAS, available in 36GB and 73GB.

And… thats it! So we can therefore draw the following conclusions today:

  • There are only 3 common sizes found on the market, ~36GB, ~72GB, and ~146GB.
  • If you want 15K RPM SAS the biggest disk you can buy is 73GB
  • If you want the largest capacity 2.5″ SAS disk 146GB at 10K RPM is the ceiling.

Now… with that understood, some random pricing.

And so, there we go. A whirlwind tour of the 2.5″ SAS market today. Thus, we find, my statement that “larger drives are available on the open market” was a lie, because they aren’t. But, they will be in the future I’m sure. So the fault isn’t with Sun but rather with my own research, but I’m glad in a sense that it forced me to go digging a bit.