WD's New Raptor Drive Is a Bird of Prey!

Drive Performance

As already mentioned, the VelociRaptor interface was upgraded to SATA/300 to sustain the drive’s high throughput of almost 125 MB/s and the interface bandwidth of close to 200 MB/s. This is the highest throughput we’ve measured in our storage test lab. However, the VelociRaptor not only provides excellent throughput, but is also capable of sustaining higher minimum transfer rates than most other drives. The minimum transfer performance is crucial for applications that rely on constant data streams and it becomes important once you fill the entire 300 GB. Here, the new Raptor doesn’t drop below 77 MB/s with the exception of a spike during our test (which can happen for various reasons). This is clearly more than most of the high-performance Flash-based Solid State drives can provide - and those aren’t available at more than 128 GB per drive yet.

Application benchmark results are excellent, though the VelociRaptor is beaten by Fujitsu’s and Seagate’s SAS drives in the Windows XP startup benchmark. A look at the I/O benchmark results makes very clear that those SAS drives still are the crème de la crème when it comes to I/O intensive server workloads such as file servers or web servers (10-50% more performance for the 2.5" SAS drives), databases or workstation applications (up to 100% more performance with 2.5" SAS drives). However, these differences are only important in server scenarios, where lots of concurrent commands are pending.

If you look at the benchmark section it becomes obvious that it was time for WD to move, because many 7,200 RPM drives had outperformed the old Raptors by a significant margin. Although this is only important for desktop applications, the old Raptor was about to pass into obsolescence, since 7,200 RPM drives today offer up to 6x the capacity and at least equal performance at more attractive price points per gigabyte. The VelociRaptor returns the Raptor line back to its previous dominance in the desktop world. For desktop applications, the Western Digital VelociRaptor is the fastest SATA drive available. But there is more to consider with the new drive thanks to the 2.5" form factor.

Achim Roos