Seagate says too early for Thunderbolt

Tim Grey
15 March, 2011
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The world’s biggest hard-drive manufacturer, Seagate, has told Australian Macworld that it’s not yet ready to commit to Apple’s new superfast connectivity protocol, Thunderbolt, although its technology is likely to appear in Apple-branded drives.

“This is a very new standard and it’s too early to comment on when or if Seagate will support,” says Seagate’s product marketing director, David Burks. “Since this is an external interface, it’s more likely to expect Apple branded peripherals first which might utilize Seagate storage inside.”

The company recently released its largest-ever desktop hard-drive, the Barracuda XT, which weighs in at 3TB. The drive presented something of a landmark, as previously storage was limited to 2.1TB because of a legacy BIOS design.

The limitation pushed Seagate to develop a workaround for a larger single driving using existing architecture.

“Once it because clear to us that the UEFI BIOS standard would have a longer adoption curve, we started developing a bridge solution for our customers to span the time frame until UEFI is adopted,” says Burk.

Burk says the Barracuda, which was in development for over ten months, was a real challenge.

“The 32 bit address spaces used to count sectors are spread throughout the PC architecture, including OS, drivers, partition structures, hard drive controllers and BIOS,” he explains. “We needed to develop a solution which covered all these areas in some form or another.”

Apple had already overcome the 2.1TB barrier in its last two iterations of OS X, but designing a solution for PCs proved difficult.

“The primary challenge is the much larger and more diverse eco-system associated with the traditional PC architectures using the Windows operation systems.”

While certainly an achievement, Seagate doesn’t expect the enormous drive will be for everybody.

“A 3TB solution is more likely representative of the top tier of the market place and more associated with segments such as video editors, computer animators, mechanical designers and other professions who depend on the latest technologies that are very graphics and video based,” says Burke. “In addition, gaming enthusiasts and home video hobbyists are also segments we expect to see pull from. Collectively, this might represent about 10% of the total desktop market.”

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