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One Drive, Multiple Applications

WD's New Raptor Drive <i><b>Is</i></b> a Bird of Prey!
By , Achim Roos

Although the VelociRaptor is a 2.5" hard drive, it does not fit into notebooks due to its greater height. Notebook hard drives typically stick to a 9.5 mm height; some high-capacity models (the current 500 GB notebook drives) utilize three platters and hence occupy a 12.5 mm height. The new Raptor, however, fits into the format for 2.5" enterprise hard drives, which allows for a total height of 15 mm.

The 2.5" form factor allows Western Digital to attack the workstation and entry-level server market. The latter is currently moving from 3.5" to 2.5" for all mainstream and high-performance server applications. While this isn’t the first time WD has tried to approach the business segment, the situation looks much better today, as there is little competition for the new Raptors. While the VelociRaptor is incapable of competing against SAS drives when it comes to I/O performance or even to overall performance if we add 15,000 RPM drives, it is certainly a highly attractive alternative for 10,000 RPM 2.5" SAS drives for mainstream enterprise storage that has to deliver a reasonable balance between performance and performance per Watt.

Once the application profile isn’t too I/O-heavy, the VelociRaptor (without the IcePack) does really well, and looking at retail prices of less than $300 for a 300 GB professional hard drive, $250+ for a 146 GB 2.5" SAS hard drive suddenly looks like a rip-off. Any SATA drive can be deployed into existing Unified Serial infrastructure based on SAS or SATA controllers. This applies to both attaching drives to controllers directly and to deploying VelociRaptor drives into rack mount appliances for 2.5" drives. Clearly, the VelociRaptor can improve the performance per Watt ratio in such scenarios. Even if the hard drive makers follow up with 300 GB 2.5" SAS drives they will still be more expensive than the VelociRaptor.

Drawback: Not Suitable for Server Upgrades

The new VelociRaptor is not the perfect performance hard drive - despite all the advantages. While it can easily be installed into 2.5" SAS or SATA environments (without the IcePack frame) and while it represents the best hard drive choice for high-end and enthusiast desktop PCs, it cannot be used for seamless upgrades of existing 3.5" storage infrastructure. Once hot-swap drive bays are used, which typically is the case in each and every professional storage appliance and semi-professional SMB solutions, the position of the SATA and power connectors on the 3.5" structure (VelociRaptor plus IcePack) will not match the standardized connector position for 3.5" hard drives. Hence you won’t be able to install the VelociRaptor in 3.5" hot-swap bays.

Since the IcePack frame is rather simple, the drive's SATA and power connectors will remain in the center of the

Since the IcePack frame is rather simple, the drive’s SATA and power connectors will remain in the center of the "drive" (VelociRaptor plus IcePack), which means that it cannot be installed into 3.5" hot-swap drive bays for server and workstation applications.

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  • 0 Hide
    mpkonig , April 21, 2008 11:42 AM
    Athauglas......on page 5 is the drive with the top plate removed..not with a clear window.
  • -1 Hide
    rodney_ws , April 21, 2008 12:09 PM
    *drools*
  • 0 Hide
    Zorg , April 21, 2008 12:16 PM
    Very nice and about time. Now, who has $300 to lend me.
  • -3 Hide
    royalcrown , April 21, 2008 12:27 PM
    LAME as all hell...mant new 320gb/platter drives are almost as fast with a lot better capacity and surely price.. ! This is like a raptor ME edition...zzzz
  • 0 Hide
    zenmaster , April 21, 2008 12:49 PM
    #1 - Finally! Tom's Seems to have gotten a scoop. It's been a while but it's nice to See Tom's have a major hardware review out before the others.

    #2 - A very well written article. I've noticed an uptick in the quality of articles of late. Kudos again.

    #3 - A very nice HDD. Something I may definitely look at adding to my system.
  • 0 Hide
    Zorg , April 21, 2008 12:50 PM
    Quote:
    LAME as all hell...mant new 320gb/platter drives are almost as fast with a lot better capacity and surely price.. ! This is like a raptor ME edition...zzzz
    Oh really, which ones?
  • 0 Hide
    royalcrown , April 21, 2008 1:04 PM
    western digital 640 aaks series b3 revision:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136218

    Seagate 7200.11 (if they can work out their doa prob):

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148316

    A few of samsung's F1 spinpoints...

    they are all pretty close, especially seagate at 114mb STR, 60 low and around 100 average across 320 gigs.

    A 150 gig drive that is just a bit higher is not so awesome, and yes I know seek times, IO and all that matter too. Do you really thonk the new raptor is gonna be 90 bucks like these, I sure don't.

    If they at least have a 320 same performance, or the performance was closer to 150 (as in a larger 3.5 platter), then sure, but it's sad considering a 7200 is almost passing them ALREADY.


  • -1 Hide
    royalcrown , April 21, 2008 1:11 PM
    My bad, 300 gb does make it look beter ! but still those other drives are way to close considering this is the raptor series.
  • 0 Hide
    Zorg , April 21, 2008 1:13 PM
    Well you answered it yourself i.e., seek and IO. You can't take read / write as the total picture. The drives you posted aren't really that close in read / write either. I'm sure you know the last bit of performance costs the most money.

    You could say you don't think it's worth the cash, I have no problem with that, but it sounds a lot like sour grapes to me.
  • 0 Hide
    Andrius , April 21, 2008 1:27 PM
    Seriously. Just what about this drive isn't impressive?
    It has twice the storage space of the previous top model.
    It has better benchmark results.
    It runs cooler way cooler.
    That IcePack is perfect for mounting behind front intake fans(improved airflow).
    I'd want 1 over any 1TB drive. The price is also quite reasonable for a Raptor.

    I'd call that progress in every way.
    There's just no pleasing some people.
  • 0 Hide
    rodney_ws , April 21, 2008 1:29 PM
    Honestly, who was expecting the next Raptor to be a 2.5 inch drive? I know it's in a 3.5 inch enclosure, but you just know the guys at Alienware are trying to figure out how one of these is going to work in a laptop.
  • 0 Hide
    nihility , April 21, 2008 1:33 PM
    About time they updated the raptors, they've been doing pretty poorly for quite a while. It's cool to see over 120MB/s read/write on a desktop drive.
    I wonder why I/O performance isn't as good as the SAS drives even though it has faster read/write speeds and latency. Could this be fixed with firmware?
  • 0 Hide
    deuce271 , April 21, 2008 1:40 PM
    They look like a really nice answer to SSDs. I'm really considering getting one but $300 for a hard drive is a lot of money.

    Hell, it'd be the most expensive component in my rig...
  • 0 Hide
    Zorg , April 21, 2008 1:52 PM
    Quote:
    Honestly, who was expecting the next Raptor to be a 2.5 inch drive? I know it's in a 3.5 inch enclosure, but you just know the guys at Alienware are trying to figure out how one of these is going to work in a laptop.
    Notebook HDs only need 5V and the velociRaptor needs both 12V and 5V. I'm not saying it can't be done.
  • -1 Hide
    royalcrown , April 21, 2008 1:57 PM
    It's not sour grapes...it's spoon feeding us tiny bumps and calling it amazing that gets me...it's better, but amazing or wow or making a big deal about an incremental increase is just hyping it up, when it's not that big of a step up.
  • 0 Hide
    Shinigami84 , April 21, 2008 2:30 PM
    Lets see how it looks to me:
    - I get 30%+ of performance increase compared to my 1TB drive (yah, 10EACS)
    - I get 300gb for $300, I already have 1000gb for $300
    - I can get 640gb instead of 300gb with little speed decrease but it will cost $130.
    So 30%+ speed increase equals almost 5x price increase? My wallet thinks otherwise... But thats my wallet, if your wallet says otherwise, I think you'll be happy with the new HDD from WD :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Zorg , April 21, 2008 2:50 PM
    ^My wallet says I have to live with my Raptor, you know bills and stuff.
  • 0 Hide
    Zorg , April 21, 2008 2:54 PM
    Quote:
    It's not sour grapes...it's spoon feeding us tiny bumps and calling it amazing that gets me...it's better, but amazing or wow or making a big deal about an incremental increase is just hyping it up, when it's not that big of a step up.
    Hard drives have to live within the laws of physics and current technology. Maybe you know of some way to get a 200% improvement. By all means share it with us.
  • 0 Hide
    sailer , April 21, 2008 2:57 PM
    This drive looks good to me. If I hadn't just built a new computer, I'd like one of these in it. One might end up in the new computer anyway. Don't know, will see.

    Hey wait, that government rebate check could pay for one of these and not hurt the wallet at all. :D 
  • -2 Hide
    royalcrown , April 21, 2008 2:59 PM
    look up a hard drive from back in the day called a Chinook. How about some real innovation...I'll gladly pay out the nose for some.

    2 actuators is better than one and not at all infeasible today.
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