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  (Source: Ron Reznick)

Western Digital's 300 GB VelociRaptor  (Source: Western Digital)
Western Digital takes the fight to SSDs with next generation VelociRaptor

With all of the talk these days in the storage industry swirling around solid-state drives (SSDs), it's easy to forget that advances are being made in the hard disk drive (HDD) market as well for consumers. That fact is even more pertinent today with the announcement of the long-awaited update to Western Digital's line of 10,000 RPM Raptor HDDs: the 300 GB VelociRaptor.

The new VelociRaptor takes an untraditional approach for a desktop HDD with its 2.5" drive design. The 2.5" form factor allows the drive to be smaller, lighter, and more power efficient than its 3.5" rivals.

But what good is a 2.5" HDD in a desktop system which typically accommodates 3.5" HDDs? Western Digital addressed that issue by affixing the VelociRaptor to an "IcePack" heatsink which allows the drive to fit into a standard 3.5" drive bay.

"Demand for ever-higher PC performance continues to increase and WD is the leader in this category with the WD Raptor. We created WD VelociRaptor hard drives to lead PC enthusiasts into the next era of PC and Mac storage performance and satisfy their insatiable thirst for computing speed," said Western Digital's Tom McDorman. "The new WD VelociRaptor delivers the greatest performance and reliability of all SATA hard drives currently on the market."

When it comes to performance, Western Digital promises a 30% increase in performance through its SATA 3Gb/sec interface, 1.4 million MTBF, and Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF) to improve performance in vibration-heavy environments.

The 300 GB VelociRaptor will be available in Alienware's high-performance ALX desktop system later this month, while end-users can purchase the drive in mid-May for $299.99.

For full performance specs on the amazing VelociRaptor, there is no shortage of reviews highlighting the new drive. You can read reviews from PC Perspective, Hot Hardware, Maximum PC and The Tech Report.

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Mobile version?? *Pretty please!*
By phaxmohdem on 4/21/2008 9:07:02 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if it can be unmounted from the Icepack and used in mobile workstations and gaming notebooks.

RE: Mobile version?? *Pretty please!*
By mmntech on 4/21/2008 9:30:29 AM , Rating: 3
Or dare I say, mounted in the PS3.

There's probably a good reason the heatsink is there. I can imagine it puts out a lot of heat at 10,000rpm. Even the 5200rpm drives can get quite hot. It's still pretty impressive for a 2.5'' drive. $300 actually isn't too bad for a drive like that. I was just browsing Newegg, and I see there a Fujitsu 300gb, 10,000rpm drive selling for $425. It's SCSI though which explains the price difference.

By TheSpaniard on 4/21/2008 9:45:09 AM , Rating: 3
but going from 5400 --> 7200 RPM hard drive only really nets a 2-3 C difference (in the PS3). I wonder how much hotter this will get?

RE: Mobile version?? *Pretty please!*
By Hare on 4/22/2008 4:11:13 AM , Rating: 2
It's still pretty impressive for a 2.5'' drive.
Actually most high-speed drives have 2.5" platters.

By superkdogg on 4/21/2008 1:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
If that option was mentioned at all in the reviews, it was to say that it can't be done.

I don't believe them. WD probably just doesn't want to warrantee it, but citing 'excessive power requirements' or heat as reasons it won't work don't cut it for me. It sounds like it's pretty likely to work if you get a good modder in there.

Even using USB 2.0 might be faster than a 4k/5.4k RPM laptop drive.

Why only WD
By phatboye on 4/21/2008 10:01:56 AM , Rating: 3
Why is it that only WD makes 10,000rpm SATA hard drives? There are plenty of 10,000rpm SCSI hard drives but for some reason WD is the only one who makes them available via SATA. I would have upgraded a long time ago if I could get a 10,000rpm hard drive that wasn't seriously over priced like WD raptor line but still I have yet to find a hard drive company that will sell such a hard drive. Do these hard drive companies not want my money? Give me a reason to upgrade my existing hard drives other than larger space because my current hard drives aren't anywhere close to being half full, and do it at a reasonable price unlike these overpriced raptors.

RE: Why only WD
By gyranthir on 4/21/2008 10:15:36 AM , Rating: 2
I think it's because WD is the only company really willing to gamble like this.

Even though 10k rpm enterprise drives are common in Enterprise solutions, SAS and SCSi drives aren't cheap at all. You may be able to find refurb, knockoff, seconds, and resale ones online in places, buying them new is not cheap.

Changing them over to SATA and then running thru the consumer testing gauntlet, won't be a cheap or logistically simple process.

I am glad WD is looking at this, I love my 150gb raptor, and am now thinking about one of these badboys...

RE: Why only WD
By RamboZZo on 4/21/2008 11:43:43 AM , Rating: 2
Raptors aren't exactly terribly overprices. It's just 10K rpm drives are by definition going to be more expensive to make regardless of being scsi or sata. There is no such thing as making budget 10K rpm drives unless they are obsolete models. The reason no one else makes them is because there is probably a limited market for people willing to pay the cost of such a drive ousite of enterprise and corporate markets which would typically go for scsi or fc anyway.

RE: Why only WD
By steven975 on 4/21/2008 4:22:24 PM , Rating: 3
The reason only WD does this is because they don't have an enterprise market to defend. If Seagate did this they would see their SAS/SCSI sales fall and SATA (lower margin) sales rise.

Interesting bit of trivia: The first raptor came out because WD failed to break into the enterprise market. They had put all of the work into a SCSI drive design and couldn't sell they adapted it to ATA instead. Note the old raptors do not use 3.5" platters; they use ~3" ones that are much thicker than other desktop drives.

2.5" gives no performance penalty?
By Sunrise089 on 4/21/2008 10:13:31 AM , Rating: 2
I was under the impression that one of the reasons for the lower performance of notebook drives was that smaller drives were slower than larger ones at the same RPM. In other words, I thought the 1.8" Macbook Air drive would be slower than a desktop 3.5" drive even if both spun at 7,200rpm. Was I mistaken? Otherwise, how does the Raptor not loose out to 3.5" 10k drives?

RE: 2.5" gives no performance penalty?
By nafhan on 4/21/2008 11:31:47 AM , Rating: 2
From my understanding, size has nothing to do with read/write speed, and the slower access times are mostly due to power saving features. Seek time can actually improve with smaller disk area (head does not need to travel as far).

Also, as the article states, most enterprise drives are 2.5" at this point.

By ChronoReverse on 4/21/2008 12:05:39 PM , Rating: 2
Read/Write is actually faster with a larger platter at the outer edge because the actual speed of the edge is greater. Access times are better with a smaller platter though.

By rudolphna on 4/27/2008 10:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
In most cases, yes that would be true. However, you have to consider the density of the platters. you are cramming 300GB onto 2 tiny platters, each spinning at 10,000 RPM. The Data density on this drive is going to be extremely high, and if you saw anandtechs preview, the outermost edges had up to 130MB/s read speeds, absolutely devastating the older 3.5" Raptor. Unfortunately, they could not finish testing because incomplete firmware caused actuator issues, which severely degraded performance in some spots of the disks (primarily the high-performance outer edge)

By Pessimism on 4/21/2008 9:05:41 AM , Rating: 2
I can see people attempting to jam these into their sata laptops, if only they were standard 9mm height instead of 15mm

RE: modding
By superkdogg on 4/21/2008 1:11:42 PM , Rating: 2
If I had the $$$ to buy one, I'd do it.

You'd want to re-work the cover anyway for air flow to keep it cool, so worst case scenario in many designs is that you have a lump out the bottom of your laptop that is not as high as the feet in most cases, meaning it still can be set down on a table with no ill effect.

The only reason I won't be doing this is the cost, but if I had $600 to throw at my laptop, it has 2 HDD bays and allows RAID. I wonder how much my e-peen would grow if I had a 10k Raid-0 array and 600 GB of storage in a laptop?

RE: modding
By Frallan on 4/22/2008 5:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
Well I for sure will have a look in my Lappy to see if I can squeeze it in.

It's useless
By xNIBx on 4/21/2008 2:34:18 PM , Rating: 2
High volume/high performance disks arent that useful. Using a drive like this for storing media, is stupid. So 300gB is overkill. This would have been a lot better offer if it was 120-150gB and at half price. Then someone could spend 100-150$, get a fast disk, put his OS and games/applications there and enjoy relatively high performance without breaking the bank.

Having a high cost/high volume disk means that you are selling your disk at the same price that SSDs sell for. And SSD performance will soon be leagues ahead of magnetic disks. Especially when you consider that the biggest advantage of raptors is their low latency, SSDs already soundly beat them on that.

Even though SSD will offer less space for the same price, this isnt that important for the enthusiast(as i explained).

RE: It's useless
By Yawgm0th on 4/21/2008 3:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
The products you are describing are the previous Raptor drives... Lower capacity, but the same spindle rate (and comparable, but slower speeds all around) and approximate cost/byte. They have been moderately successful, but the second most common complaint (first being price) is the size. Clearly, the consumer wants a bigger, faster drive.

I can easily use more than 150GB for games and other applications on a single volume, and the ability to store much more than just software on a single, fast hard disk is definitely worth it. I routinely do parity checks and extraction of large sets of .rar archives which is almost always limited by my hard drive these days. I also do transfers of large files or sets of files over the network, and once again, my hard drives limit that. A fast, high-cost disk or multiple high-cost disks in RAID are perfect for such applications.

SSDs cost much more than fast hard disk. Even a 15000RPM SAS disk is going to be 2-3 times cheaper than a SSD, and have significantly better throughput at a cost to seek times (which are not as important as average read and write throughput in most applications). SSDs have a long way to go to be at the same level as a 10,000RPM SATA disk.

RE: It's useless
By Frallan on 4/22/2008 5:45:26 AM , Rating: 2

I use my lappy for everything incl. gaming and Im stuck on a 5400 rpm drive that only had 150Gb. It would be heaven to have 300GB on a fast drive it would allow me to have MORE media as well as getting into the pistolround in CS:S.

Bout time
By Macuser89 on 4/21/2008 9:11:04 AM , Rating: 2
About time WD releases a new version of the Raptor. The 150GB version was release in January 06.

RE: Bout time
By pnyffeler on 4/21/2008 9:41:11 AM , Rating: 2
While cost remains an issue...

I'm drooling all over my keyboard.

Jeebus. Did you see how loud they are on SEEKS
By PAPutzback on 4/21/2008 10:16:13 AM , Rating: 2
Did any of the reviews compare Average Reads to a Raid 0 array.

By ChronoReverse on 4/21/2008 11:25:30 AM , Rating: 2
The Maximum PC review benchmarked the RAID 0 and RAID 1 performance.

They also tested against a fast SSD. The long and short of that is that the SSD destroyed the Velociraptor in the PCWorld (closer to real world) test while leading in silly stuff like STR.

SAS Better
By WasabiX on 4/21/2008 8:38:54 PM , Rating: 2
I have an LSI MegaRaid controller with my 10k 300gb 3.5 Maxtor SAS drives (RAID 1+0) and it also controls my 15k 2.5 drives (Seagate Savios) with the same config. (74gb) In the case of the 15k's I only use the outter edges of the platters (just a single 20g partition) for Vista and the speed is amazing. Bought all of my drives on Ebay (patience is key) and they work great and cost much less then these new Raptors. Downside is I did have to invest more for special high speed 3.5 (Icydocks) and 2.5 (Hydra) docking bays to fit into 5 1/4 slots but they work great and provide extra individual cooling for each drive.

RE: SAS Better
By WasabiX on 4/21/2008 8:42:02 PM , Rating: 2
Minor correction in my last post I mean I have Raid 0+1 currently setup for each 10k and 15k array)

By nvalhalla on 4/21/2008 9:07:09 AM , Rating: 3 has a review. Their articles can be hit or miss, but this one was good.

By SpaceRanger on 4/21/2008 9:15:24 AM , Rating: 2
why end-users can purchase the drive in mid-May for $299.99.

I think you meant while end-users can purchase.....

When can we expect....
By Noliving on 4/21/2008 12:29:26 PM , Rating: 2
When can we expect Seagate others to bother competing with WD when it comes to the raptors. Also when can we expect sata hdd that are 15k rpm?

Single-platter version coming?
By Deusfaux on 4/21/2008 1:16:59 PM , Rating: 2
I think I'll wait if that's true -

"Western Digital says it's also working on a single-platter version of the drive, but that's not ready yet."

From the Tech Report review

Can Anand's peeps verify this?

By inperfectdarkness on 4/21/08, Rating: -1
RE: $300?
By Brandon Hill on 4/21/2008 8:56:28 AM , Rating: 5
You gotta pay to play. Look at the reviews listed in the bottom of the article. The VelociRaptor is a monster when it comes to performance.

RE: $300?
By kensiko on 4/21/2008 9:13:00 AM , Rating: 2
Personnaly I accept a lower performance using SCSI 10k rpm disks, which are way cheaper on ebay than any raptor hard drive.

RE: $300?
By OrSin on 4/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: $300?
By Hypernova on 4/21/2008 10:07:45 AM , Rating: 1
" raid them and are they faster, quieter, and more reliable. "

I hope you are kidding, every time you RAID you add another link in the chain that can break. This is true especially for RAID0's. I'm sure we all heard horror stories of people forgetting to backup their data on RAID0'ed drives. And then the RAID controller or one of the drive dies...

RE: $300?
By Ochophosphate on 4/21/2008 10:27:33 AM , Rating: 1
I believe he was speaking of RAID 5, as he said "get 3 drivers" which I assume meant get 3 drives. With RAID 5 you get a slight performance increase (depending on stripe size and applications utilizing the array) and increased fault tolerance. The drives themselves are no more reliable, but the RAID configuration helps. Write speeds are likely to see little improvement, but reads should improve over single drives.

RE: $300?
By Yawgm0th on 4/21/2008 11:12:22 AM , Rating: 1
Write speeds are drastically reduced, and CPU overhead is huge -- even on modern processors -- unless you have a good XOR processor for parity calculations. RAID 5 is great for a large fileserver because it provides good fault tolerance at relatively low drive overhead. It is not good for a gaming rig or high-end workstation.

RE: $300?
By JoshuaBuss on 4/21/2008 5:29:58 PM , Rating: 2
software raid5 works awesome for me for my home file server.

i have nine 160gb drives, 8 in the array and one setup as a hot spare, for 7x160gb worth of space, which comes out to exactly 1.00 TB somehow as reported by windows (pretty sweet, i know)

i have 4 dual IDE PCI controller cards with a drive on each channel (you don't want to chain master/slave with IDE raid), and one more of the 160gb drives on the secondard ide channel on the motherboard. the system drive is a simple 20gb on the primary ide channel. it's all done in software through ubuntu (it initialized the array in 5 minutes, compared to win server 2k3 saying it would take 2 weeks and never finishing before locking up anyway) and the performance for file reads and writes are fantastic over my gigabit network at home..

i'm a die-hard believer in a large central repository for all my media and files and then smaller and faster system drives on all my desktops and laptops.

RE: $300?
By masher2 on 4/21/2008 11:52:56 AM , Rating: 2
> "With RAID 5 you get a slight performance increase "

In any desktop-based usage pattern, RAID 5 means lower performance, not higher. Every disk you add to a RAID array increases bandwidth, but also increases mean rotational latency. This has been confirmed by many tests RAID wins the artificial disk benchmarks, but loses badly on actual applications.

For server usage patterns, bandwidth is far more important than seek times, and thus RAID 5 is faster, especially when hardware accelerated wide arrays are used.

RE: $300?
By Ochophosphate on 4/21/2008 12:03:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, my bad on lack of detail there.

I've never seen/used RAID 5 but in production or at home in a file server. The thought never entered my mind as using it as a desktop solution... especially housing the primary partition. But I would assume that's what this velociraptor is aiming at, so the comparison is valid.

The point was, he wasn't talking about RAID 0. The morning pre-coffee drivel that leaked out afterward is moo. - (you know, like a cow's opinion... it doesn't matter)

RE: $300?
By digital batman on 4/21/2008 2:50:52 PM , Rating: 2
Good job Joey...

RE: $300?
By DeepBlue1975 on 4/21/2008 1:20:13 PM , Rating: 2
Quite true.

Not only that, you are also wasting space when you add redundancy, and so costs increase.

Highly cached and intelligent disk controllers can mask most of the blow that waiting for the heads of all the disks to be in sync imposes, but those cost a lot of money and because of that only corporate environments can (and usually should) justify the cost.

RAID in desktop is a waste of time unless you can really take advantage of an increased sequential transfer rate, which gets its best expression in the form of RAID 0 (which should be called AID 0 because it provides no redundancy at all)

RE: $300?
By Yawgm0th on 4/21/2008 11:52:59 AM , Rating: 2
You obviously have no clue what RAID is. The primary purpose of a R edundant A rray of I ndependent D isks is to increase reliability through redundancy. As such, striping (RAID 0) is not really considered a true RAID level. All other RAID levels will increase reliability, and most will increase performance substantially.

RAID will not, however, make them quieter by any means.

A RAID 0+1 or RAID 10 array IMO is the best for a performance consumer system, as it drastically increases read and write performance while still providing redundancy. RAID 5 has too much performance overhead; RAID 1 doesn't increase performance much in most cases (and will reduce write performance); and RAID 0 increases the chance of failure.

RE: $300?
By phatboye on 4/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: $300?
By ChronoReverse on 4/21/2008 11:18:12 AM , Rating: 2
Except it's not. Ignoring the whole huge CPU overhead portion, writes with RAID5 aren't that great either. Furthermore, access times will still be not even a shadow of what the Raptors can achieve.

RE: $300?
By Zelvek on 4/21/2008 11:31:18 AM , Rating: 2
There is only CPU overhead if you get a cheep RAID card, most decent cards calculate parity themselves so there is no overhead. Writes are not usually not much improved over a single drive but access times are close to doubled. Also you can add more drives to get better performance. However the OP is wrong about capacity you would only get 500GB remember parity bits.
X*(Y-1)=total storage
X=size of smallest drive
Y=number of drives

RE: $300?
By masher2 on 4/21/2008 11:58:35 AM , Rating: 2
> " but access times are close to doubled. Also you can add more drives to get better performance."

Access times get worse in RAID 5, not better...and they keep getting worse as you add drives.

Mean rotational latency for a single disk is (1/2) 1/?. The expectation value for a three-disk array, though, is (1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8) 1/?....or approaching double that of a single drive.

Continue the geometric series as you add drives.

RE: $300?
By Yawgm0th on 4/21/2008 12:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
Actually Masher,the way he worded it is correct in reference to access times, but he he is incorrect. If access time is doubled, that means it is twice as bad. A decrease in access time (or seek time) is desirable as is an increase in throughput.

RAID 5 will provide a substantial increase in read throughput compared to most other RAID types, but access time, write throughput, and CPU overhead are all drastically worsened in most RAID 5 arrays, even with an on-card processor and RAM for parity calculations.

RE: $300?
By ChronoReverse on 4/21/2008 12:03:46 PM , Rating: 2
If you buy an expensive RAID card, the argument that the Velociraptor is expensive goes out the window.

RE: $300?
By Souka on 4/21/2008 11:37:08 AM , Rating: 2
Huh? Raid-5?

3x 250gb /= 750gb in a RAID5 config...

Array size would be just under 500GB, with useable around 465GB.

Raid5 is easy to calc...need 3 drives min, one is kept as parity. So available capactiy = (#drives-1)x #GBper drive.

RE: $300?
By Etsp on 4/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: $300?
By Yawgm0th on 4/21/2008 12:09:10 PM , Rating: 1
You are incorrect. RAID 5 disk overhead is one disk. Most RAID 5 solutions implement a hot-swap drive for additional redundancy, but only one drive is used for parity. You are correct in that it is not drive-level parity, but the total amount of storage used for parity is always equal to one drive. From your own Wikipedia link:

...where s is the sum of the capacities of n drives used. In RAID 5, the yield is s * (n - 1)/n. Using 1

The difference between RAID 4 and RAID 5 is that in interim data recovery mode, RAID 5 might be slightly faster than RAID 4:

Therefore,the usable capacity of a RAID 5 array is (N-1) * Smin, where N is the total number of drives in the array and Smin is the capacity of the smallest drive in the array.

Also, I love Wikipedia, but if you want a good, accurate description of relevant RAID levels, take a look at

RE: $300?
By comc49 on 4/22/2008 12:21:11 AM , Rating: 1
why get old 250 platter if you can get wd cavier se16 320gb or samsung spinpoint f1 320gb for same price? i just got my wd 320gb and it has almost same performance as this raptor's read and write speed but way higher access times.
cavier se16 640gb (which uses 320gb platter) is only few mb/s slower here.

RE: $300?
By Locutus465 on 4/21/2008 9:37:56 AM , Rating: 2
I like the performance but personally I find the price a bit hard to swollow for me. Perhaps one day I will be lucky enough to be able to afford one of these beauties, but for the time being my new build will be using my seagate SATA drive.

RE: $300?
By Samus on 4/21/2008 8:25:02 PM , Rating: 2
Those seek times are amazing.

RE: $300?
By dr4gon on 4/21/2008 9:16:07 AM , Rating: 2
I agree..... $1/GB is way too much for a hard drive. The performance benefits are marginal compared to the costs.... the reviews need to show actual real world applications rather than just synthetic benchmarks.

RE: $300?
By retrospooty on 4/21/2008 9:50:38 AM , Rating: 2

Did you see the benchmarks? Its easily the fastest drive available that isnt an SSD, which would cost thousands$$$.

RE: $300?
By bysmitty on 4/21/2008 10:25:39 AM , Rating: 2
It may be the fastest but the real world benefits are still only measured in a few seconds here and there. I would rather take that extra $200 and put it towards a beefier CPU or GPU where I would REALLY notice the difference.


RE: $300?
By retrospooty on 4/21/2008 10:40:01 AM , Rating: 3
True... I guess it all depends on your preferences, bottlenecks and spare cash... =)

RE: $300?
By tmouse on 4/21/2008 9:17:44 AM , Rating: 3
Its price is in line with WD's raptor lines. You cannot compare their raptor line prices with regular lines. They really do have a reasonable price/performance ratio.

RE: $300?
By RandallMoore on 4/21/2008 9:27:50 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. Lets also mention that they are VERY reliable hard drives with a 5 year warranty.

RE: $300?
By Heidfirst on 4/21/2008 9:42:16 AM , Rating: 2
I stopped using them after several failures ...
admittedly that was the original 36Gb but I've never been tempted to try any of the newer versions especially as larger, denser HDDs approached their performance.

RE: $300?
By 306maxi on 4/21/2008 10:16:14 AM , Rating: 2
I had one failure on a 36gb raptor but I now put that down to bad airflow in my case at the time. I've still got the 36gb raptor and my primary drive 4 years after I got it replaced and it's still going strong.

RE: $300?
By rudolphna on 4/27/2008 10:28:06 AM , Rating: 2
I may get some "bad press" for this, but i detest seagate with every fiber of my being. Every seagate drive i have owned (INCLUDING the ones in my Comcast DVRs) all died. That makes 5 drives. will never buy a product with a seagate drive. Western Digital all the way. Im still using a Western Digital CaviarSE 250GB 8MB back from 2005! It works great, its fast, cool, pretty quiet. It has close to 18,000 hours on it, and its still going strong. IMO, Western Digital Drives are the best in the world. =D

RE: $300?
By retrospooty on 4/21/2008 10:02:03 AM , Rating: 2
Yup, the last Raptor was released at $300 for 150 gigs... And of course, like any tech product it will drop. 3 months from now when the sales channels are full you will see it for $250, and it will continue to drop after that.

RE: $300?
By Carter642 on 4/21/2008 2:10:55 PM , Rating: 2
*sigh* of course they release this not long after I shelled out for the 150GB.

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