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VelociRaptor Returns: 6Gb/s, 600GB, And 10,000 RPM

VelociRaptor Returns: 6Gb/s, 600GB, And 10,000 RPM
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Western Digital’s Raptor family hit the enthusiast hard drive market like an asteroid in 2003, and has been a benchmark in high-end desktop storage ever since. With no direct competition in its spindle speed class, this 10,000 RPM hard drive remains a coveted choice for enthusiasts and IT professionals building entry-level servers, particularly now that the latest VelociRaptor models have arrived with 450GB and 600GB capacities, improved specifications, and increased performance.

Following Trends

Seagate's Barracuda ATA excited the mainstream drive world in 1997 when it took the industry's first stab at 7,200 RPM desktop storage. It only made sense that a 10,000 RPM evolution would eventually follow. Given that enterprise drives had been running at 10K since 1996 with the Seagate Cheetah, adoption was only a matter of time and production volume.

In a way, Western Digital was "lucky enough" to be unlucky with its SCSI enterprise drive business from 1997 to 1999. From these efforts were born the roots of the Raptor series. Other drive manufacturers didn’t want to risk cannibalizing their existing server/enterprise hard drive business, but WD had nothing to lose. This remains one of the main reasons why the Raptor family is the only 10K SATA family on today's market.

Although spindle speed hasn't changed since the original Raptor launched, there has been considerable progress on other fronts. Not only data density climbed but WD also transitioned the 3.5” Raptor into the 2.5” VelociRaptor, following the trend toward smaller drives for higher storage densities in server environments. This downsizing allows many more drives to be installed within the same dimensional footprint.

Setting New Records?

We were amazed to look back and realize that the VelociRaptor has been on the market for almost two years—one the longest component product life-cycles we've seen in recent years. Amazingly enough, the 300GB drive still does rather well against its competitors. Only a few 3.5” drives deliver better low-level performance. However, application benchmarks show that the latest 7,200 RPM models are a better choice nowadays, as they offer more than six times the capacity with increased performance at similar price points. WD knows this, too, which is why the company is now out to reclaim the performance crown.

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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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