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The majority of our readership consists of power users who have an affection for squeezing the last bit of performance out of their systems. To meet the clarion call of these niche markets, manufacturers have responded by moving away from selling solely generic products. They now offer specialized professional class products; although made for multi-user environments, these can be integrated into home systems as well.
The new Seagate Barracuda ES models are hard drives that are validated for professional environments where capacity, data integrity and long duty cycles are prime considerations. The smaller Western Digital Raptor ADFD models hope to carry the reputation of Western Digital's desktop performance and reliability into the large scale storage market. WD currently is the only company utilizing a 10,000 RPM rotation speed for entry-level and mainstream enterprise SATA drives; its competition is still using 7,200 RPM spindles for its SATA disks.
The target market presents a need for the two drastically different drives we review here. The 7,200 RPM Seagate Barracuda ES, utilizing SATA/300, is a storage/service monster available in 250 GB to 750 GB capacities. The 74 GB Western Digital Raptor offers less capacity and only utilizes SATA/150, yet it is a much better performer. It is a lower capacity version of the popular and speedy Raptor-X 150 GB, and is fine-tuned to the demands of wide area storage and speedy server access.
Both drives feature Native Command Queuing (NCQ), which optimizes data pickup along the spin sequence according to file or sector location. This helps to minimize seek times while optimizing transfer rates and data access. The image below provides a general schematic of the NCQ process.