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History Of The Raptor

VelociRaptor Returns: 6Gb/s, 600GB, And 10,000 RPM
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The original Raptor: WD360, released in 2003 with a 36GB capacity.The original Raptor: WD360, released in 2003 with a 36GB capacity.

The first Raptor was the WD360. This coincided with Serial ATA's introduction, making the Raptor special in two ways. Not only was it the first desktop hard drive with a 10,000 RPM spindle speed, but it was also one of the first SATA drives. Interfaces were still limited to SATA 1.5Gb/s (or 150 MB/s) at that time, but the interface's simplicity and performance pushed it closer to competing with much more expensive enterprise storage. However, the first Raptor had a disadvantage compared to most enterprise drives: it didn't support command queuing. The WD360GD offered an 8MB cache memory.

WD360 Quick Facts: 8.3 ms average read access time, over 60 MB/s throughput.

Raptor #2: WD740, released in 2004 with a 74GB capacity.Raptor #2: WD740, released in 2004 with a 74GB capacity.

The next Raptor (WD740GD) basically updated the initial product, doubling capacity to 74GB. It was faster than the initial drive and was the first drive to support tagged command queuing (TCQ). This allowed incoming commands to be lined up and reordered for most efficient execution. However, compatible SATA controllers were required to enable this.

WD took another two years to revise the Raptor line, doubling the cache capacity from 8MB to 16MB. The enhanced model was again available at 36GB and 74GB (WD360ADFD and WD740ADFD) but this time WD managed to cram 74GB onto a single platter. The modernized version also utilized fluid dynamic bearings, rather than conventional ball bearings, making the new drive more power efficient and noticeably quieter. At the same time, TCQ was dropped in favor of native command queuing (NCQ), although the feature was poorly implemented. We never reviewed the ADFD series, since the next Raptor generation arrived shortly thereafter.

WD740 Quick Facts: 7.8 ms average read access time, over 70 MB/s throughput.

Raptor #3: WD1500, released in 2006 with a 150GB capacity.Raptor #3: WD1500, released in 2006 with a 150GB capacity.

WD renamed named its third-generation drive the Raptor-X and increased capacities to 150GB. The clear cover on one variant (the WD1500AHFD) sought to make this drive even more attractive to enthusiasts, while the regular version lacked the sexy "moon roof." Looks aside, the technical data and benchmark results spoke for themselves. WD integraed NCQ, a 16MB cache, and SATA 1.5Gb/s interface.

WD1500 Quick Facts: 8.0 ms average read access time, over 87 MB/s throughput.

Raptor #4: WD3000, released in 2008 with a 300GB capacity.Raptor #4: WD3000, released in 2008 with a 300GB capacity.

Finally, the VelociRaptor at 150GB and 300GB arrived in 2008, once again doubling capacity. This marked the first time for a Raptor to inhabit a 2.5” form factor, making it attractive for backplane applications. WD stayed with 16MB cache, 10K RPM, and NCQ, but performance increased significantly. Three models were available: the WD3000BLFS as a 2.5” bare drive, the WD3000HLFS better suited for backplanes (including a 3.5” mount), and the WD3000GLFS with a 3.5” desktop frame that doubled as a heatsink.

WD3000 Quick Facts: 7.8 ms average read access time, over 124 MB/s throughput.

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  • 23 Hide
    Von_Matrices , April 6, 2010 6:30 AM
    The review of the VelociRaptor is nice, but what I really appreciate are the benchmarks of the high-capacity (1TB and greater) 3.5" drives bundled in with this review. This is what I have been trying to find for a while. Thanks!
  • 19 Hide
    Anonymous , April 6, 2010 7:38 AM
    Question: Is there really a market for this product anymore?

    Answer: Yes. My company just bought a 100 nodes cluster - each node has five 7200 rpm 2.5" disks (unsure of the exact brand and so). That's 500 disks. Yes, there is a huge market for these kinds of disks. 2.5 inch disks fit nicely in a two nodes/2U rack form factor. It's not necessarily meant for gamers and such. The IcePack version is there to gain a little market share in the gamer/home user segment, who would probably be better off using a SSD as already mentioned. However, the "bare" version is probably what most companies are looking for. If your programs writes a couple of terabytes to the scratch disk back and forth all the time, SSD is not viable, because it doesn't offer enough disk space for the money at the moment.

    Best!
  • 18 Hide
    darkguset , April 6, 2010 6:20 AM
    I was hoping for a much more balanced price considering the SSD penetration today, alas WD decided that it is a premium product - again...
    I will stick with my VR150, SSD and Spinpoint F3...
    To entice me to get one of those drives they would have to bring the price down by at least $90.
    Sorry WD, too little too late...
Other Comments
  • 18 Hide
    darkguset , April 6, 2010 6:20 AM
    I was hoping for a much more balanced price considering the SSD penetration today, alas WD decided that it is a premium product - again...
    I will stick with my VR150, SSD and Spinpoint F3...
    To entice me to get one of those drives they would have to bring the price down by at least $90.
    Sorry WD, too little too late...
  • -9 Hide
    narlzac85 , April 6, 2010 6:24 AM
    Is there really a market for this product anymore? People that want performance can get an Intel SSD for less (even 2 or 3 of them if they're on sale). If people need more space, large capacity drives are cheaper and the performance isn't bad. This middle ground seems unnecessary, but I guess that's why its the only drive in its class (and was unchanged for so long).
  • 23 Hide
    Von_Matrices , April 6, 2010 6:30 AM
    The review of the VelociRaptor is nice, but what I really appreciate are the benchmarks of the high-capacity (1TB and greater) 3.5" drives bundled in with this review. This is what I have been trying to find for a while. Thanks!
  • -3 Hide
    SevWarfare , April 6, 2010 6:58 AM
    I run two VR160s in RAID0 and only spent $200 total for them. The new VRs look nice, but I'm not paying that much unless it's an SSD. Then again, I can't see moving to an SSD until the prices come down. So I'll just have to be happy with what I have.
  • 0 Hide
    Nintendork , April 6, 2010 7:04 AM
    This VR should be a 300GB. There's no point in the high capacity when most of the times this drive will be used in a SO or games. For space and average 2TB drive is enough.

    Let the dinosaur be extinct.
  • 19 Hide
    Anonymous , April 6, 2010 7:38 AM
    Question: Is there really a market for this product anymore?

    Answer: Yes. My company just bought a 100 nodes cluster - each node has five 7200 rpm 2.5" disks (unsure of the exact brand and so). That's 500 disks. Yes, there is a huge market for these kinds of disks. 2.5 inch disks fit nicely in a two nodes/2U rack form factor. It's not necessarily meant for gamers and such. The IcePack version is there to gain a little market share in the gamer/home user segment, who would probably be better off using a SSD as already mentioned. However, the "bare" version is probably what most companies are looking for. If your programs writes a couple of terabytes to the scratch disk back and forth all the time, SSD is not viable, because it doesn't offer enough disk space for the money at the moment.

    Best!
  • -1 Hide
    noobz1lla , April 6, 2010 7:41 AM
    Yeah what everyone else said. 450 gigs for $300 are you out of your mind? Maybe if it was like 160 gigs for $150 then maybe. The drives going over the $200 mark no matter what the capacity will turn-off consumers regardless. SSD are here to stay why would someone want to take a step backwards?
  • -5 Hide
    chefboyeb , April 6, 2010 7:54 AM
    Still sticking with ssd... I'm yet to have one fail on me and i own 7 of them... Who can tell how reliable these would be?
  • -1 Hide
    messerchmidt , April 6, 2010 8:06 AM
    Not a premium product anymore. I would get an ssd as my boot drive, say 60gb and put some cheap 1tb 7200 rpm drives in raid-0 as my storage base if i needed fast.


    my current seagate 7200 1tb HDs in raid-0 as my main drive works just fine for me
  • -8 Hide
    P486 , April 6, 2010 8:09 AM
    What speed does 6Gb/s indicates?
  • 6 Hide
    curnel_D , April 6, 2010 8:10 AM
    They made a better drive, but they totally failed in the pricing department. These can't compete in the current market.
  • -9 Hide
    P486 , April 6, 2010 8:10 AM
    indicate*
  • -4 Hide
    zodiacfml , April 6, 2010 8:36 AM
    god, too expensive. thought, theycould be cheaper considering SSDs and 2TB drives available. additionally, the streaming and sequential scores are not far from 2TB drives.
  • 5 Hide
    pojih , April 6, 2010 9:24 AM
    reminds me a bit of the new nvidia cards....

    too little, too late, for too much
  • 0 Hide
    SpadeM , April 6, 2010 9:36 AM
    Curnel_DThey made a better drive, but they totally failed in the pricing department. These can't compete in the current market.

    I agree and i was hoping this drive would be some sort of a hybrid between an SSD and classical HDD. That would have justified the pricing.
  • 1 Hide
    curnel_D , April 6, 2010 9:50 AM
    SpadeMI agree and i was hoping this drive would be some sort of a hybrid between an SSD and classical HDD. That would have justified the pricing.

    The thing is, this is the same format that the original Vraptors were, so it goes without saying that manufacturing costs aren't high enough to justify the price they're trying to push.

    But you're totally right. They'd have a killer product if this was priced reasonably or if they had managed some sort of hybrid technology.
  • 17 Hide
    ta152h , April 6, 2010 9:54 AM
    I guess people don't understand this intended to be a niche product.

    No device out there is faster, and more capacious at near the same price. So, if you want this balance, and don't want an SSD which can only tolerate so many writes before it fails, then this will do well for you. It's not for everyone, it never has been. But, it's very fast for a magnetic disk, and if you don't want the compromises of an SSD, it's as good as it gets even at $300. Most people won't want it, but it will have it's small market, which is all niche products aim for. And it's better than its predecessor and everything out there at what it is. That's not bad.
  • 10 Hide
    drowned , April 6, 2010 10:08 AM
    I agree they need to come down on the pricing quite a bit, but this fills the gap very nicely:

    SSD = OS and Swap
    This = Games/Heavy HDD apps
    2 TB = Everything Else
  • -6 Hide
    curnel_D , April 6, 2010 10:20 AM
    TA152HI guess people don't understand this intended to be a niche product. No device out there is faster, and more capacious at near the same price. So, if you want this balance, and don't want an SSD which can only tolerate so many writes before it fails, then this will do well for you. It's not for everyone, it never has been. But, it's very fast for a magnetic disk, and if you don't want the compromises of an SSD, it's as good as it gets even at $300. Most people won't want it, but it will have it's small market, which is all niche products aim for. And it's better than its predecessor and everything out there at what it is. That's not bad.

    I can take 2 640gb drives, raid them, and have more space, more performance, and fall almost near half the price.

    It's a niche product, but it's also competing with many other products in the same niche market. And it's clear that it's not going to do very well.
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