The Terabyte Club

· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (548 Words)

It’s an eternal truth that no matter how much hard drive space you have, you always manage to fill it with something.

In my case, it’s mostly tools, SDKs and most importantly build environments. I have to maintain at least 3 active development copies of OGRE at any one time (the previous stable branch, the current stable branch and the development branch), plus clean build environments for at least 3 compilers in order to do releases. Add to that the occasional backport scenario for clients, plus build variants (static linking, multiple threading options, double precision mode), plus project builds for customers and my own spin-offs like OgreSpeedTree and it all starts to mount up, particularly as a full build of OGRE will creep up to about 3-4GB of data (mostly intermediate files).

To be fair, hard drives do tend to last longer and longer every time. I bought a 250GB hard drive about 4 years ago and was amazed at the amount of space I had free (with my secondary backup drive, I had 330GB at my disposal). However, over the last month or two I’ve been pushing at the limits and so I decided to upgrade.

Terabyte hard drives are getting quite cheap these days, although the cheaper ones (like the Seagate Barracuda) have been getting some poorish reviews, so given I do some pretty HDD intensive work I looked for something with decent performance (barring going OTT with an array of Velociraptors) . The Western Digital Caviar Black was getting some good reviews, so I went with that - the only one that seemed to compete at this size was the Samsung Spinpoint F1, but according to the reviews I read, while it did very well at bulk sustained transfer rates, its performance didn’t scale well to lots of random I/O requests, something that’s pretty important when doing compilations with lots of small files being accessed in many threads. Thus, I chose the Caviar Black which is a touch slower than the Spinpoint on bulk transfers, but is a clear winner in the kind of random access workloads I do most.

They come in 750GB and 1TB variants; I decided to go with the 750GB since the Caviar Black is a more expensive drive (£80 for the 750GB, £110 for the 1TB), and I intend to keep my 250GB as a secondary drive anyway, so together they push me over the magic psychological 1TB barrier (in theory, of course you never see all that space in reality).

It feels like moving into a new house with loads more room - you just want to do cartwheels on the empty space (metaphorically). It’s great not to have to worry about disk space again as I fire off a new build, and I don’t personally notice the noise that the reviews mentioned as a downside of the Caviar Black, but then my existing drives were 4+ years old and probably noisy by comparison to modern equivalents anyway. In a way, I find the slight noise reassuring, particularly as I don’t have a HDD light on the front of my machine (it’s behind the door panel, in a rather odd design choice by ThermalTake).

I wonder if it will be another 4 years before I fill this one up…