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The World's Fastest SATA Hard Drive, WD's New VelociRaptor
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Mon May 05, 2008 7:40 pm Reply and quote this post
Western Digital'sRaptor line of high performance hard drives has been a long-timefavorite of PC enthusiasts since its introduction several years ago. When WD's Raptors first hit, their 10K RPM spindle speeds allowed formuch lower access times than the more common 7200 RPM desktop drives ofthe time, and overall relative performance was strong.  Many users wereput off by the relatively low capacities of the Raptor, which debutedat 36GB and topped out at 150GB, but they were still wildly successfulamongst enthusiasts regardless.

As time wore on though, WesternDigital's competitors introduced faster and faster, high capacitydrives, that began to out-perform the Raptor in a number of keymetrics.  WD too released some fast, high-capacity drives thatout-performed even the fastest Raptor in many scenarios.  WD released anumber of more eco-friendly drives under their "Green Power" badge aswell, which may have led some to believe WD's focus on the enthusiast sector had diminished.  However, as you'll see today, that is definitely not the case.

Today,Western Digital is unveiling the brand new Velociraptor WD3000GLFS300GB hard drive.  Like the previous generation Raptors, the new WDVelociraptor sports a 10K RPM spindle speed, but the drives areactually quite different.  As you'll see, this new Velociraptor issimply in a league of its own, thanks to some innovative design choices.

Western Digital Velociraptor VR150 300GB Hard Drive
Specifications and Features
*Note:  MTBF now estimated at 1.4M hrs.

In a side by side feature comparison, the WD Velociraptor resemblesthe older Raptors. The drives share the aforementioned 10K RPM spindlespeed, they have the same 16MB buffer, the same reliability ratings,and acoustic and environmental characteristics.  The WD Velociraptor's new design,however, offers significantly increased performance, both in terms ofaccess times, IOPS, and data transfer rates.

We should alsopoint out, that while the Raptor line and Velociraptor share the sameacoustic specifications, the drives definitely do not sound like.  With the new Velociraptor, the high-pitched whine emitted fromthe previous-gen Raptors has seemingly been eliminated.  However, theVelociraptor's heads can easily be heard chunking along within thedrive.

Performance Summary:Summarizing the WD Velociraptor's performance couldn't be any easier.In every benchmark and test we ran, the new Velociraptor was clearlythe fastest drive of the lot, and usually by a wide margin.  In termsof sequential or random reads and writes, access time, I/Os, or burstrates, the WD Velociraptor is the fastest hard drive we have evertested. CPU utilization was markedly higher than the other drives wetested, but higher utilization is to be expected considering theVelociraptor's performance characteristics.  We should note, that thedrive we tested was an engineering sample and testing of the firmwarewas not 100% complete.  It's possible, tweaks to the drive's firmwarecould change its performance versus what you've seen here, but WDassures us "it will only get better".

Although they'vebeen relatively quiet on the enthusiast front for quite a while, theVelociraptor proves Western Digital still knows how to produce highperformance products for power users.  From a performance standpoint,at least for now, the WD Velociraptor its quiet simply in a league ofits own.

Of course, with only a 300GB capacity (279GB formatted)the Velociraptor suffers from the same shortcoming of its predecessorsin today's landscape where 750GB can be had for well below $200.  Butlike Raptors that came before it, we suspect enthusiasts won't mindconsidering the drives extreme performance.  At an MSRP of $299 though,a price per gigabyte leader the Velociraptor is not.  While some veryfast high-capacity drives can be had for roughly .22 per gigabyte, theVelociraptor commands a hefty $1.

The WD Velociraptor will beavailable very soon in select Alienware systems and it should be in thechannel sometime in mid-May.  If you're in the market for somesuper-fast storage, and can wait just a little longer, do yourself afavor and check out the WD Velociraptor.

Contributed by Editorial Team, Executive Management Team
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