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Interview with Alasteir Stewart

August 6, 2001



Our editor Nikolai Dorofeev interviewed Mr. Alastair Stewart, Sales Manager Central & Eastern Europe with Seagate Technology.

<Q>: Data density on IDE hard discs is growing rapidly today - 20 GBytes per platter, 30, now it is 40. Seagate is one of the leaders in this process. What's, in your opinion, the limiting point in data density growth with the current technologies?

<A>: The limit you are talking about is more economic than technological. Seagate is always guided by the needs of the market when making a decision to turn to new technologies, and not by presence of one or another technology in its arsenal. We consider that 40 GB-per-platter density our latest disc drives have is optimal, taking into consideration today's needs of users in a disc memory size and the money users are ready to pay.

<Q>: Today high-density are discs also produced by manufacturers who traditionally dealt only with entry-level disc (for example, Samsung). Aren't you afraid of a tough competition in the sector of high-performance IDE-discs?

<A>: No, we don't fear for weakening of our position. Leadership in the sphere of the data storage technologies allows the company to produce more efficient discs than those of the competitors, and high volumes of output allows making these discs rather cheap and acceptable. That is why Seagate has every reason to maintain its leading position on the market.

<Q>: The data density increase has brought to reduction or dying-out of a sector of low-volume IDE discs. At the same time, not all users need large-size ones. Many would prefer a cheaper disc of a lower size. What does Seagate think about it?

<A>: If we started now production of discs of a lower size, they wouldn't cost less - modern platters and up-to-date electronics will be used anyway. An attempt to preserve facilities for manufacturing old models is not a way-out either - it is not beneficial from an economic standpoint. That is why it is better to buy a disc of a larger size for the same money, even if it won't be filled up with data.

<Q>: Last time we were talking about cutting down of the niche taken by the SCSI interface. Do you agree that increase in size and performance of IDE discs, as well as improvement of IDE RAID controllers, on the one hand, and spreading out of the Fiber Channel interface, on the other hand, will bring to dying out of the SCSI?

<A>: I disagree. Well, the market of SCSI discs becomes narrower. For today, Seagate discs with the SCSI interface and 7200 rpm spindle speed do not differ from IDE discs, except the interface. Yes, the high-efficient system sector is gradually being taken by devices with Fiber Channel interface. But SCSI does have some advantages as compared with the IDE, especially when working under UNIX-like operating systems. That is why this interface won't die immediately, and Seagate will keep on manufacturing of SCSI discs.

<Q>: One more question about interfaces. In the recent press-release of Maxtor they were speaking about a new version of the ATA interface (ATA/ATAPI-6), which, in particular, will allow getting over the barrier of 137 GBytes IDE discs. What do you think about this standard? Is it a sound competitor for the Serial ATA?

<A>: As you might notice, it is not a new standard, but just a further extension of the ATA, with the main aim being an increase of the disc size. At the same time the Serial ATA is a new standard meant for serial data transfer. That is why we cannot consider them competitors.

<Q>: Thank you very much for the interview.

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