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With 400GB total capacity, 7,200 rpm and 16MB of onboard cache, the current specs of the new Western Digital WD Caviar RE2 may look pretty boring—until you discover that the drive is designed for 24/7 duty cycles.

Why am I making a big fuss over a hard-working SATA (Serial ATA) drive? With 24/7 levels of reliability and durability, SATA drives are now able to venture beyond the world of nearline storage and become legitimate targets for primary storage.

Most of today’s SATA drives are rated for workstation and desktop duty cycles, where drives are only truly being worked for a few hours every day. If you try to use these drives in intense application environments where they are constantly accessed, the drives often break down under the strain.

Read details here about Samsung’s first SATA II hard drive.

For this reason, and because storage vendors were not in a hurry to sell cheap SATA instead of more expensive SCSI and Fibre Channel arrays, SATA arrays have traditionally been marketed for nearline storage.

Over the past few years, however, legions of cost-conscious maverick IT managers have implemented SATA as primary storage—against the recommendations of storage vendors.

Read the rest of this eWEEK column: “Serious SATA Steps In for Storage”