Print 38 comment(s) - last by DominionSeraph.. on Jan 11 at 6:21 PM

Competes against SSDs on capacity and price

The world of enthusiast computing changed in 2003 when Western Digital Corporation launched its first generation 10k RPM hard disk drives. Prior to the Raptor, enthusiasts were limited to 7200 RPM drives or had to purchase expensive SCSI drives to attain the high performance they required. WDC saw opportunities in the nascent SATA interface for exceptional performance, and took a bold leap that no other HDD company has dared to follow.

Western Digital has had four generations of Raptor drives, including the latest VelociRaptor, as the fastest SATA drives available. It was only last year that Solid State Drives took the performance lead, and enthusiasts have since flocked to the most cost-effective upgrade available for computers. While access times of computer components are usually measured in nanoseconds, mechanical drives still have access times measured in milliseconds. SSDs have insanely fast access times due to their use of NAND flash memory.

However, there are still a few areas where the VelociRaptor can beat out SSDs, especially the lower range models which use inferior controllers and/or NAND flash memory. Raptors have traditionally been used as boot drives, in much the same way SSDs are now due to high costs. Most SSDs being sold today are in the 60GB-80GB range for that reason, with a growing shift towards the 120GB mark.

Raptors are targeted at performance enthusiast systems, workstations, and low-end servers. While many of these systems now use SSDs, WDC still believes that the VelociRaptor will continue to hold an important niche between SSDs and magnetic HDDs.
There are times when there is only enough room or budget for a single drive, in which case  WDC believes the VelociRaptor is the right balance of capacity, speed, and price. The latest VelociRaptor is available in a 300GB capacity for around $250, which seems like a bargain compared to a 250 GB Vertex for over $700.

WDC has decided that it is time for a refresh in order to push its capacity advantage further, and is currently developing its fifth generation Raptor. It will also be a 10k RPM drive, but will utilize advances in areal density to achieve a 600GB capacity with two platters. The new drive will also have "a significantly larger cache", but our source won't specify whether it was 32MB or 64MB. The best part will be the pricing, as it will launch at close to the original launch price of the 300GB VelociRaptor. A new single platter 300GB version will follow later on.

Seagate recently released its latest Barracuda XT drive featuring 64MB of cache and a 6Gbps SATA interface. There is no information available on whether the new VelociRaptor will also use a 6Gbps interface, although it does seem likely.

"Western Digital will continue to deliver a balance of performance, capacity, and cost", stated a source close to the company. "This is an important market for the company, and Western Digital will continue to deliver the fastest magnetic hard drives available for enthusiasts".

The company is still hedging its bets, though. Western Digital recently entered the SSD field with its own series of SSDs, following the acquisition of Silicon Systems. It is currently developing its next generation of SSDs as well.

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By jpiszcz on 1/5/2010 7:17:17 AM , Rating: 2
By Gungel on 1/5/2010 7:54:14 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, you'll still deal with problems like that. Every mechanical device will fail eventually. Data loss on a hard disks is in most cases sudden and fatal while on a SSD its a slow degradation of flash memory which is noticeable in a decrease in capacity. I still think that 2010 is the year of the SSD. We will see further price declines and an increase in storage size and speed.

By jpiszcz on 1/5/2010 8:13:38 AM , Rating: 2
Every disk (including) RMA's and RMA's of RMA's failed/did not work in RAID correctly, in HW or SW raid.

By Totally on 1/5/2010 8:15:24 AM , Rating: 2
I experienced something similar but not on the same scale 2 of the 5 drives I bought failed within 8 months. RMA'd the defective drives only to have one of the replacements fail again, I have the replacement for that last failed drive but don't feel confident enough that it is worth my time to throw it into the array with the other drives.

By Chocobollz on 1/5/2010 10:05:30 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree. When you say "Data loss on a hard disks is in most cases sudden and fatal (...)", I'd say that's because you probably don't have (or forgot to make) any backups. When a drives fail, it will be fatal, whether it's SSD or a HDD, for example: you spoil a cup of coffe on your SSD, that'll be fatal :-)

And also, from my experiences, most HDD's failure is involving a dead controller, which means, the electronic parts. IMO, the mechanical parts of an HDD is quite tough, except if you dropped or shocked the drive above a certain G-force value.

There's also many events where contents of an HDD could even be 90% recovered after it being burned for hundreds of degrees in a fire accident. I don't think SSDs will become as reliable as that (anyone here want to try to burn their SSDs for a test? :p) So I think, the platter itself is actually deliver a very good job in maintaining your data, but not for the other parts, like the head or the electronic parts. And talking about electronics, isn't SSD is 1 of 'em? Now, that brings a questions, will SSD be more reliable than HDD? ;-)

I've also think about the recovery costs. Current costs for a HDD recovery is already been very high, so I wonder will it be cheaper for SSD or it's the opposite? Anyone could give me a clue? B'cuz I think it'll be more expensive to recover unless the individual modules is socketed, or being in a modular design.

// My 2 cents

By The0ne on 1/5/2010 11:16:59 AM , Rating: 2
The cost remains high for recovery, especially more so due to larger sizes and not much improvements in the actual recovery time. I use to use them many years back when I was working on wind turbines but since stopped when GB came into play :D

By elgoliath on 1/6/2010 1:38:54 AM , Rating: 2
While the cost may be high, the fact that it is still possible in more scenarios is priceless imo.

By akse on 1/7/2010 2:44:00 AM , Rating: 2
Costs are of course high, but that's why you have backups. If backups fail too then you have to think if the data recovered is more valuable than the price you pay.

By jpiszcz on 1/5/2010 8:14:13 AM , Rating: 2
.. 74GB?

By therealnickdanger on 1/5/2010 9:08:10 AM , Rating: 3
I remember when I had "Raptor RAID" in 2004 or 2005 (can't remember). At $500 for 72GB (36x2 RAID-0), I thought my system was amazing. Today's Velociraptor is definitely faster, but still can't touch an SSD for performance. It's the IOPS, randoms reads, and instant seek times SSDs that obliterate HDDs from the competition.

My "crappy" $120 JMicron 602B-controller G.Skill 64GB SSD mops the floor with my old Raptor RAID and every other "performance" HDD I've ever owned. I only ever encountered mild pausing when using Vista, only during boots as all the different applications loaded in the background and applied updates (heavy random writes). After that, it always worked amazingly well. Apps open instantly, no pausing when multitasking or anything like that.

Now that I'm on Windows 7, that same SSD has shown no signs of pausing at any point. Even though it doesn't support TRIM, it works noticeably better with Windows 7.

By Reclaimer77 on 1/5/2010 9:35:40 AM , Rating: 2
Makes more sense then a SSD at this point,

How ?

By dguy6789 on 1/5/2010 9:41:24 AM , Rating: 2
I also wonder how one would say a Raptor makes more sense than an SSD. At least with an SSD, you are actually getting a faster drive. The Raptor drive has been a waste of money for over a year now. It has consistently been outperformed by the fastest 1TB and larger drives. More capacity, more performance, lower price vs less capacity, less performance, more expensive? Raptor makes sense?

By wetwareinterface on 1/6/2010 8:24:27 AM , Rating: 2
well let's see the error in following internet review benchmarks...

fill your 300 GB drive to over 80% like most everyone does.
fill that 1 TB drive to 800GB as well.
now benchmark the 2 and see what results you get.

hard drives are always fastest at the outside edges, start to fill them and areal density loses to spindle speed. most internet reviews place around 200 MB of files on a drive and that's as far as the benchmark goes.

also ssd's have a huge performance decrease the more full they get. also they are not as good as even a regular 1 TB 7,200 rpm drive in continuous sequential writing. they have to be able to shift data around internally and when you saturate the controller for long periods with data writes they have to really work hard internally to move and shuffle data around and it causes them to slow down considerably.

i record music in multiple tracks and for my usage ssd's are only good for an operating system drive compared to even a seagate 320 GB 7200 rpm drive, let alone my older 150GB raptors or 1.5 Tb seagate. there are still usage models where a traditional platter drive is faster than an ssd. professional music, video editing, large engineering datasets etc...

also storage cost vs GB is heavily in favor of traditional platter drives. any industry with large data storage is not going to go to an ssd setup over platter drives any time soon.

for an os drive ssd makes good sense, for a lot of other uses they don't...


someday they will get faster at sequential write abilities for sustained data and carry more storage space and come down in price, right now they don't.

By steven975 on 1/8/2010 12:43:53 PM , Rating: 2

When used as a boot drive with Windows, and ESPECIALLY when filled, the Raptors will perform better overall...they have HALF the seek time and 2/3 the access time.

Most benchmark sites only do R/W...this isn't really important for a boot drive.

By DominionSeraph on 1/11/2010 5:53:42 PM , Rating: 2
The WD Caviar Black 1TB is within 10% of the 300GB VR's performance for desktop access patterns. File server is where the low random access times come into their own and the VR shines, doubling the performance of the Caviar Black; but the home usage scenario for that is torrenting, and it would take one hell of an internet connection to overload a Caviar Black. (And you could just limit the number of connections to remedy that problem, with negligible affect on your seeding effectiveness)

Comparing full drives isn't apples to apples, as it would take three 300GB Velociraptors to (almost) equal one 1TB Caviar Black. Sure, the VR's would be faster across the array. They'd also cost 6x as much.
If cost wasn't a factor, you should skip the mechanical drives altogether and run a ramdrive off an atomic pile.

By blowfish on 1/5/2010 8:29:46 AM , Rating: 3
I wonder if you tried a secure delete on the drives with bad sectors - that can sometimes resolve things.

Anyway, whilst your experience casts the drives in a very poor light, and for you it must have been a real ordeal, statistically it's not very significant. There are clearly many other satisfied users out there.

These new Raptors will help to keep SSD prices real, and for some users, they will be a perfect fit.

By Golgatha on 1/5/2010 8:51:16 AM , Rating: 2
Yeap, bought a 300GB Velociraptor close to the time they were released for a rebuild. Been running smooth since day 1. Cool, quiet, and fast (for a mechanical drive anyway).

By jpiszcz on 1/5/2010 8:59:41 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, in non-raid they seem to work well.

By sviola on 1/5/2010 9:27:42 AM , Rating: 2
Well, I´ve been running a pair of Raptors 36Gb in Raid 0 as my boot drive for the last 3 years and so far I had no issues with them (the only issue I had was that my mobo died last May, so I had to replace it).

By jpiszcz on 1/5/2010 10:15:37 AM , Rating: 2
The 36/74/150 original raptors (3.5") work fine, the newer ones have problems.

By redbone75 on 1/5/2010 10:16:21 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, in non-raid they seem to work well.

Hit that right on the head. Both my Raptors in a Raid 1 failed just a couple months ago. I've always been a WD person, but I'm beginning to have some serious reservations on their reliability. Four drive failures over the past two years will do that. To clarify, those are all drives purchased within the last two years. It just doesn't do to come home after a hard days work to find both drives in your RAID array clicking. Tsk, tsk, Western Digital.

By Smilin on 1/5/2010 2:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
What do you mean "in non-raid they seem to work well"?

Why would they work any better or worse in a raid? If you are getting poor reliability when in raid you should check your controller. Raid does not increase or decrease the reliability of an individual drive.

By Smilin on 1/6/2010 9:59:05 AM , Rating: 2
NM, figured it out. There is basically a failed command that can happen on these drives after so many days. If the raid controller doesn't handle this gracefully it breaks parity where an individual drive would have been fine after a retry.

By Smilin on 1/5/2010 2:16:20 PM , Rating: 6
LOL at that link.

So lets just assume for argument sake that this is the shittiest drive ever made. You still won't see 6 out of 12 drives fail. WD would straight go out of business with such failure rates.

No, something else is going on here. Take a closer look at that guy's test results. Not only did he get multiple drives fail they all coincidentally failed at the same sector ? LBA 586068047 according to his data.

This guy almost certainly has a bad drive controller . He's blaming it on WD and everyone is buying it. I'm not.

I had a pair of 73GB raptors in a raid 0 bought the day they came out. They ran 24/7 until I finally retired them (obsolete, no failures) when the current Velociraptor 300s came out and I've been running those since. Sure this is just my anecdote but so is that link fact that link above doesn't even show a problem with the drives once you look closely.

By Samus on 1/5/2010 6:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
I have a client that has an Dell Poweredge SC420 equiped with a Dell-branded 'Adaptec' 6-port SATA controller. It has 64MB integraded DDR PC2700, no expansion. Their last IT guy dealt with a 36GB Raptor failure in 2004, two 72GB Raptor failures in 2007 (the 36's were eventually upgraded to 72GB's as part of an expansion project), and just recently, a 150GB Raptor failure on my watch (I started working for them in 2008 and in January 2009 upgraded all the drives to 150GB models)

I wish I had the controller model number on hand, because after reading about it, I had no reservations in pushing this company to replace it with an Areca controller, but they're holding off since the entire server will soon be retired.

I have a dozen clients that use Raptors in their servers, and none have ever failed. I have a client using 36GB 'launch' Raptors from 2003 and they still run an Exchange server to this day in a software mirror. The mirror has never broken from a glitch or anything, and the performance is just fine for a SBS Domain controller\Exchange server with 5 mailboxes.

The irony of the most recent Raptor 150GB crash is WD sent back a VelociRaptor 150GB 2.5" drive to replace it! It has the same LBA and logical space to maintain compatibility but I have read some pretty convincing reports that these fail in RAID environments because of sync issues overworking the drives :\ I wonder if only one will cause that type of scenerio.

By Alexvrb on 1/5/2010 8:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
This guy almost certainly has a bad drive controller. He's blaming it on WD and everyone is buying it. I'm not.
Thank you, Smilin. I run into this all the time in the automotive business. If a part fails in the same manner 5 times in a short period of time, you'd think the technician would want to investigate the cause of the failure.

By jpiszcz on 1/6/2010 4:08:27 AM , Rating: 2

Three different controllers have been used over 3 separate motherboards, it is not a controller issue.

All raptors (3.5") <= 150GB work fine.

It is the new (at least) 2.5" 300GB drives that have the problem.

By Navvie0 on 1/7/2010 6:21:05 AM , Rating: 2
Read the whole thread... quickly skimming through it the guy makes mention of trying with 2 controllers.

By johnsonx on 1/9/2010 3:14:09 AM , Rating: 3
There's a LOT going on in that thread, but if you read further in you will get to the absolutely true, known problem with ALL Velociraptors manufactured for the first year or so - if you leave them running for 49 days straight, they will return an error to the controller, and will dump any pending writes from the drive's buffer (very bad). Depending on exactly how the drives are being used, in some cases nothing at all will happen, in some cases the drive will be dropped off-line by the RAID controller, and in some cases the file system will be corrupted. Since you generally power on all the drives in a server at the same time, they all tend to error out at the same time 49 days later. A common symptom on Linux systems seems to be that it corrupts the file system, which causes the file system to remount read-only. An fsck sometimes fixes things up, and sometimes pretty well destroys the entire volume.

Any Velociraptor with the 4.04V01 firmware (model number ending in U0) absolutely DOES have this bug. WD did release a firmware update that corrects it, 4.04V02 (which is now incorporated in drives with model number ending in U1). Last I saw, WD makes no mention of this firmware on their site: you have to open a support incident to get it (and talk past the first level support people who will tell you if it's not on the site then it doesn't exist).

As an additional interesting note, the firmware updater WD initially made available did not work with Velociraptors manufactured prior to late 2008 (approximately, I'm not sure of the exact cut-off). I don't know if they ever released another firmware for the early model drives - at the time they claimed to have no idea why it didn't work, so they just swapped my 2008 drives for 2009 models (though I still had to flash the firmware myself).

WD's handling of the whole situation was pretty poor, particularly for drives marketed as 'Enterprise' drives.

By shin0bi272 on 1/5/2010 9:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
Ive been running a 300gb veloci for about 8 or 9 months now in a single drive in my game rig (i7 920 with an nvidia 8800gtx) and have had narry a problem. It sounds to me like that guys's controller is b0rked or hes drop kicking them before putting them in his server. Hint* drop kicking them is NOT part of the installation procedure ;)

SATA 6 Gpbs ??
By Qapa on 1/5/2010 12:17:43 PM , Rating: 2
"There is no information available on whether the new VelociRaptor will also use a 6Gbps interface, although it does seem likely."

Is this useful at all for 10k rpm Velociraptor?!

Only for some SSDs it can be useful and still, I don't think anyone complains much since we are mostly still used to HDDs or rejoicing about how much faster the SSD is.

If it uses SATA 6Gpbs it shouldn't be more than a marketing thing...

RE: SATA 6 Gpbs ??
By shin0bi272 on 1/5/2010 9:36:09 PM , Rating: 2
I rated this up to a 3 but for some reason it didnt stay for more than a few seconds ... You hit the nail on the head Q. There's no real reason for a faster interface on a 10krpm drive thats just getting a bigger cache and bigger overall capacity. Now if like I said in my post they went to a 15krpm you might need all of the 3gb/sec and thus could say that it would be needed to put the 6gb/sec on there just in case...but they arent doing that they are putting new platters in the same drive and calling it a breakthrough... *yawn* While the SSD's get cheaper and faster WD is boring everyone with their "new" drive idea... thaaanks

why not 15k rpm?
By shin0bi272 on 1/5/2010 9:29:56 PM , Rating: 1
scsi and sas drives can do 15k rpm why not put some money into getting a sata drive that runs 15k? Rather than (or in addition to) increasing the size of the drive and adding some cache and maybe doubling the speed of the interface you know? Why cant we get some serious changes out of the new version and give WD something to really pound their chest over? "We brought 15krpm drives to the desktop" sounds much better than "we have a 600gb version of the same drive that's out now" ... dont you guys think? Plus at 15k it might actually need all of 3gb/sec sata's interface lol!

RE: why not 15k rpm?
By DominionSeraph on 1/11/2010 6:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's probably that the smaller platter size and lower areal density murder capacity, while not providing much of a boost to a desktop's localized access patterns.
A 15k that sounds like a jet engine spooling up, or a inaudible 7200RPM with 6x the capacity, 80% of the desktop performance, and for 1/2 the price?

SDD + Raptor
By haukionkannel on 1/5/2010 8:39:11 PM , Rating: 2
This is good!
Put SDD as an boot drive, and new Raptor for storage and temporary file drive. 600Gb is is guite good amount of storage. Those SDD are still guite expensive, so there is market for device like this.

By Soldier1969 on 1/5/2010 5:43:30 PM , Rating: 1
This is good news, I love my 2 Velociraptors (one for boot and misc files, second dedicated for games) looking forward to this. As soon as a 1-2TB SSD drive comes down within reason I'll get one but not til then.

RAPTOR failures
By JessusChristDoOTcom on 1/6/2010 2:02:30 AM , Rating: 1
I've created account so to post this info--I've had Raid 1 74GB Raptor fail/drop out of array on me before. I've RMA'd it but the replacement did the same thing. Clicking noise and no go. Separately they worked fine. I figured out through Internet posts that it is related to TLER timings for the Raptors. TLER is set at 7 for Raptors causing for some RAID controllers to hang on them. The only solution, it seems, for those willing to keep on using Raptors in raid is to set TLER to 0 value. My raid was Motherboard based. Ever since then I've been setting TLER to Zero value on all my WD hard drives including 1TB Black drives. Jesus loves do I know? He died for me.

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