Here is our latest in a series of interviews with industry company executives, PR persons and general know-it-alls. The unique feature of this series is that you, our readers, are the ones asking the questions. In the spotlight today is Joni Clark, Seagate Technology's PC/Mobile Product Marketing Manager, who will be answering your questions - which mainly focus on the recent merger with Maxtor, the future of notebook drives, perpendicular technology, and much more!
In Seagate Technology's own words, here is who they are and what they do:
"Seagate was founded in 1979 and was the first company to build 5.25-inch hard disc drives for the PC. And while it may have seemed like a minor milestone at the time, today this hard disc drive introduction is regarded as one event that helped fuel the PC revolution."
Aurora asks: How long have you been with Seagate Technology?
Joni Clark: I joined Seagate in August of 2000.
Aurora asks: Can you tell us a bit about your job role is at Seagate?
Joni Clark: As a Product Marketing Manager for Seagate's PC Business Unit, I focus mostly on awareness, education and the promotion of our product lines to our customers and industry enablers. Sometimes I work to get the industry and customers ready for a new technology that changes the way customers integrate or use storage such as Serial ATA or Native Drive Encryption. In fact, I Chair Marketing Work Group for SATA-IO and our mission was initially to get the market ready for this new interface and now the mission is to market the new SATA features and growing market opportunities for SATA storage.
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Soul Assassin asks: Can you tell us a bit about the long term plans for Seagate's acquisition of Maxtor?
Joni Clark: On December 21, 2005, the Boards of Seagate and Maxtor announced that they unanimously approved a definitive merger agreement under which Seagate will acquire Maxtor in an all stock transaction. The combination will build on Seagate's foundation as the premier global hard disc drive company providing enhanced operating scale and key resources to drive product innovation, maximize manufacturing efficiency, and realize significant cost synergies. Leveraging increased scale with Seagate's product platform strategy, the combined company will be well-positioned to deliver to customers a more compelling, diverse set of products quickly and at more competitive prices.
The transaction is contingent on customary regulatory approvals, including review by the federal and European antitrust authorities, as well as approval by shareholders of both companies.
The combined company will retain the Seagate name and its executive offices will continue to be in Scotts Valley, California. The acquisition is expected to close in the second half of calendar 2006.
Soul Assassin asks: Will we ever see a 15K Savvio?
Joni Clark: Seagate's design model is based on helping to deliver what our customers need. If Seagate's OEM customers are interested in a 15K Savvio, it will be built. However, we shouldn't discount the benefits and advantages of what today's 10K Savvio has over the current 15K-rpm Cheetah - and that is quite a remarkable figure.
If we think of the value and performance gains of Savvio 10K.1 in relation to today's Cheetah 15K.4, at a system level using a standard 3U-sized rack, the Savvio-equipped system collectively delivers far greater I/O's in the same rack space. More drives in the same space=greater I/O transaction density performance.
When Seagate first looked at the challenge of delivering greater I/O's for serious enterprise applications, there were two approaches considered: 1) Move to greater spin speeds beyond 15K in the current 3.5-inch format., e.g., 20K+, or 2) Build a smaller form factor drive at 10K-rpm that would then collectively outperform 15K drives when deployed in large systems. The second choice was selected as the best way to increase I/O transactions.
Savvio also offers an advantage with its small size because it draws less power and offers better cooling/airflow - therefore our OEM customers can build Savvio-equipped systems using the very latest processors that draw more current and require more cooling.
Soul Assassin asks: Does Seagate plan on releasing any 10K/15K RPM enterprise SATA drives to compete with the WD Raptor?
Joni Clark: Seagate always stays aware of the market, and works to release the required products at the right time. Seagate's OEM customers have not shown a large interest in this segment so far. We certainly acknowledge that there is interest in the gaming and high-performance PC segments for a drive of this type in single-user environments. But we've found that in the same single-drive environment, we've had very solid performance with our latest generation Barracuda and NL35 series SATA drives. These drives also require less power and cooling which benefits power users using the latest CPU's. You get more capacity; less power consumption and heat as well as excellent performance for much less money than you can get with a 10K SATA drive.
However, for a true enterprise multi-user environment, the advent of SAS technology has really provided a new way to enable much greater performance and flexibility than ever before. In a tiered storage model, we see SAS drives running high I/O transactions at sweet spot capacities averaging 73 GB each across RAID sets. On that same system, secondary storage and backup can be put onto bulk storage SATA drives. SAS has intelligence and features specifically fit for large-scale enterprise use while SATA is much more limited. As a result, it makes sense that the highest performing/most reliable drives at the enterprise level be built around the best performing/most reliable/feature rich SAS interface.
PCJ asks: When, do you think, will we see notebook drives reach the capacities of today's desktop drives? Will we ever see notebook and desktop drives equally matched in terms of capacity?
Joni Clark: With the advent of perpendicular recording technology, we expect 2.5-inch notebook drives to reach a top capacity of 500GB (half terabyte) - today's maximum desktop drive capacity - in the next five years.
The world is seeing a convergence of digital content as computer users increasingly move music, photos, video and other information among the Internet, PCs and mobile devices. Desktop PCs, the place where the bulk of this content is stored for primary access or backup, are at the heart of this trend, driving strong demand for systems that can move more content at higher speeds. We expect this trend to continue to drive demand for more storage capacity in desktop PCs than in notebooks.
mrsinster asks: Why are we not seeing hard drive manufacturers move towards solid state drives, when the common belief is that it would make the drives faster, and production cheaper?
Joni Clark: A pure solid state drive would be too costly for most applications of disc drives but Seagate is investigating and researching the possibilities of a disc drive with a large non-volatile cache on the front end - making the drive extremely fast at short file writes and of course still applicable for long file writes. A nice fast boot and application loading drive while maintaining cost effectiveness. This technology and others is currently under review. Seagate is always looking for cost-effective methods to meet customer application requirements.
SharkyExtreme.com: Interview with Seagate's Joni Clark