Before we begin a bit of background information and explanation is in order. Seagate has indeed gone back to the drawing board to create a new lineup meant to stem the incursion of Solid State Drives into their home turf. The end result of all their hard work, and countless man-hours of R’n’D, is the multi-model ‘umbrella’ series they have called the Guardian Series. The Guardian Series is not one storage series and rather is a multitude of models, each intended for different markets. What they all have in common however is their Multi-Tier Caching Technology (MCT), which has tuned for different scenarios and the underlying technology does differ somewhat.
These models are the Seagate Barracuda, IronWolf, SkyHawk, and FireCuda. When needed these models are then broken down into standard and ‘pro’ models – with the pro versions being higher performance variants on the same theme.
The SkyHawk is what Seagate calls their next generation home and SOHO orientated surveillance HDD series. These hard drives are tuned for low power consumption, low noise, and low IOPS scenarios – as shear performance is not really needed for recording and playback of video. What this means is instead of 7200rpm platters using Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technology it is a 5900rpm Shingle Magnetic Recording (SMR) based system with the MCT tuned for ‘surveillance’ storage tasks. In other words, this is Seagate’s answer to Western Digital’s ‘Purple’ series. Put another way if you have never used a Purple hard drive, or own a TCP/IP based surveillance system, the SkyHawk will probably not be an optimal choice.
The IronWolf series is Seagate’s new Network Attached storage option. The standard is a PMR based drive while the IronWolf Pro ups the ante with 7200rpm spindle speed. Both have the MCT tuned for quirky rigors of being placed in a NAS appliance or RAID configuration. One of these quirks is having Time-Limited Error Recovery turned on so that the hard drive will not spend much time fixing low level errors. Instead it will tell the storage controller to handle it via parity stripe ECC. This reduces latency spikes and is perfect for RAID based storage performance. Outside of RAID though it is a less than optimal choice, but the increased vibration resistance and other features that allow for long term use in near-line and on-line storage scenarios actually does cross over nicely in HTPC territory where space is usually at a premium and HDDS are stacked in close proximity to one another.
This brings to the yeoman model of the hard disk drive portion of the Guardian series: the Seagate BarraCuda models. The standard is a 5900rpm PMR based model that is helium filled and has had the MCT tuned for the needs of the home consumer. The Pro variant ups the performance via 7200rpm platter speed and some slight adjustments to the MCT so as to be able to both excel at being a ‘C’ / ‘Operating System’ drive or ‘D’ / ‘secondary’ storage option for consumers.
The last round in the initial Guardian salvo is the FireCuda. This is a solid-state and hard-disk drive ‘hybrid’ model that has been tailor made for home consumers and systems builders alike. Thanks to its powerful controller, good NAND, and Seagate’s IP in both HDD and SSD arenas expect to see these drives cropping up in everything from laptops and notebooks to prebuilt systems from all the major system builders. In other words, it represents Seagate getting back into the SSHD corner of the marketplace with all the flair and style they are known for.