SCSI drives have usually fetched a hefty price premium over the IDE drives that are ubiquitous on desktops, and the SCSI models also usually require a separate add-in controller card (IDE connectors are built into just about every desktop motherboard these days.) However, Seagate this week takes a step toward changing the situation, adding a pair of low-cost SCSI drives to its ES line that are designed for high-performance PCs. Seagate's new Barracuda 36ES is available in capacities of 18.4GB (with an expected street price of around £200) and 36.9GB (expected to have a street price of £400). Seagate expects to ship them by the end of the year. Both drives feature the Ultra160 SCSI interface, which transfers data at burst rates up to 160 MB per second. An Ultra160 SCSI controller is also needed, such as the Adaptec 19160, which retails for $150. The Barracuda 36ES drives spin at 7200 rpm and have a average seek time of 8.5 ms. Seagate claims the drives have a low acoustic level of 3.4 decibels, and can withstand shock of up to 350 times the force of gravity when switched off. Seagate ships the drives in its SeaShell enclosures, which are designed to withstand a 12-inch drop before installation. They also bundle Data Defense, a series of built-in utilities for avoiding data loss while running system applications. The utilities include SeaTools, Web-Based Tools, and a Drive Self Test for diagnosing and predicting drive malfunctions. The drives continue the trend of IDE hard drives getting larger, with capacities up to 75 GB to 80 GB. They're also getting faster, with the Ultra DMA/100 interface common in newer hard drives and the latest generation of off-the-shelf PCs. But when it comes to serious applications such as video editing, SCSI drives remain the professional's choice for a number of reasons. For example, up to 14 SCSI drives can typically be connected to one controller (as opposed to the maximum of two per IDE channel), the SCSI controller's built-in intelligence doesn't bog down the PC's main processor, and ultra-fast drives are becoming available.