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.
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.
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.
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
"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
of Silicon Systems. It is currently developing its next
generation of SSDs as well.