SATA Hard Drive with a Kick: Western Digital's Raptor Put to the Test

SATA Vs. SCSI - Western Digital Vs. Rest Of The World

Even just a few years ago, this would have been inconceivable - an IDE hard drive that will supposedly blow the SCSI models of the established manufacturers out of the water. In fact, Western Digital already attempted to penetrate this segment a few years back. The hard drive family used back then was marketed for a few years under the all-meaningful name of `Enterprise.' However, Western Digital did not succeed in making either a long-term impression with this or in acquiring significant shares in the market.

A similar attempt today would also most likely be doomed to failure, since the cost level for SCSI products is so high that it would hardly be worthwhile. Tackling the situation from precisely this angle, Western Digital is now aiming to undermine the competition in the lower price segment. This is possible, however, not simply by using a high-grade IDE drive, but because of the advent of Serial ATA above all.

The new serial interface with its 150 MB/s per channel still cannot compete with Ultra320 SCSI, although it is fully sufficient for the coming years. The reason for this is the fact that hard drives are still a long way from attaining this transfer rate, with 60 to 80 MB/s per drive being possible today.

Above all, the advantages of Serial ATA stem from its ease of use. The cables can hardly be bent now, and exactly one drive is operated per connection. Even more important is the length of up to one meter now allowed, which in turn permits larger hard disk arrays to be set up relatively easily.

Serial ATA becomes really interesting, however, when you also consider the cable price. An SCSI cable for four drives costs a good $60 or more, whereas the same money buys you at least ten Serial ATA cables.

For Fujitsu, Hitachi, Maxtor and Seagate, a similar action would pose a considerable threat to its own SCSI business, as money is still being made today in this segment. Western Digital does not have this business and, as such, cannot devote itself fully to the task of rolling up the server segment from the bottom up.