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

Off To New Worlds: The WD360 Alias Raptor With 10,000 Rpm And Serial ATA Interface

When the industry press first published reports about an IDE drive with 10,000 rpm, the situation initially appeared to be crystal clear: the next stage of evolution was on its way. However, things are not quite as simple as that - the product launch of the new Raptor drive is governed by two curiosities: it is supplied with a Serial ATA interface only, and the capacity is a comparatively meager 36 GB.

In order to understand the point of such a drive, it is necessary to take a look at the Raptor's positioning and target group. In recent months, Western Digital has been successful in further boosting the good reputation of the Caviar family of drives, and today it has a firm foothold in the home and business segment. Although a more intensive involvement would be desirable in principle, this would not prove financially worthwhile for the manufacturer. By today's standards, for instance, a 200 GB hard disk drive with 10,000 rpm would indeed be a highlight, but who would be prepared to shell out $1,000 for it? Due to the fact that both the capacity and performance can be increased by means of RAID configurations, there is little point to maximizing.

In principle, the same also goes for the professional segment. For servers and workstations, SCSI controllers and hard disk drives still have the last word. High transfer performance goes hand in hand with the I/O performance that's so important in this segment. However, there has always been one snag to this situation, namely that SCSI is very expensive. Consequently, we are seeing how the use of small IDE RAID arrays is proving increasingly popular in the entry-level sector - the cost pressure has simply forced this situation.

This is precisely where Western Digital enters with its Raptor concept, which is to offer the same performance as state-of-the-art SCSI hard drives, while greatly undercutting them in price. This article sets out to clarify how successful the Raptor can be at achieving this.