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

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

The Velociraptor was a small, carnivorous dinosaur, well known to the public since the first Jurassic Park movie. Although it was oversized in the movie and its teamwork abilities are in dispute, using the dinosaur’s name, which in Latin means "swift thief", appears to be a really smart move for hard drive manufacturer Western Digital. The company has produced a family of excellent enthusiast hard drives for years - the Raptor - and the next generation strives for providing more capacity and better performance with radically changed physical dimensions.

While everybody expected a higher capacity and higher performance version of the Raptor (which is true), Western Digital went back to the drawing table and analyzed all characteristics for a high-end hard drive. The target was to create an enthusiast hard drive that had the reliability and performance to also satisfy the workstation and low-end server market, and to make sure it can compete with Flash-based drives at least for the time being. Professional server storage applications are currently moving from the 3.5" to the 2.5" form factor, while desktop hard drives will stay at 3.5" for the predictable future. However, Western Digital found a nice way to combine the best of both worlds.

The clear cover of the second generation WD Raptor-X is gone. But the step from the Raptor-X to the VelociRaptor involved a change of the physical form factor, as the new VelociRaptor now is a 2.5" hard drive. While this doesn’t enable new transfer rate records or truly high capacities, 2.5" drives typically offer much improved access time with still excellent transfer rates. At the same time, thermal power loss and high drive temperatures are less of an issue with decreasing physical dimensions. The new VelociRaptor, aka WD3000GLFS, offers a maximum capacity of 300 GB and still utilizes the SATA interface, because SAS - despite its flexible feature set - would introduce clearly higher cost at little benefit for the end user. The interface now supports SATA at 3 Gb/s link speed (300 MB/s), while the prior Raptors were limited to 150 MB/s (which has never been an issue, by the way).

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