Western Digital announced Monday that it has begun shipping a VelociRaptor hard drive, an enterprise-class device the company said has twice the capacity and a 35 percent performance increase over its previous generation of hard drives.
Tom McDorman, WD vice president and general manager of its enterprise business unit, said the new drive "delivers the greatest performance and reliability of all SATA hard drives currently on the market." He added that the drive was created to lead "PC enthusiasts into the next era" of storage performance and to satisfy their thirst for speed.
This 300GB monster spins at 10,000 rpm, has a three Gb/s interface and a 16MB cache, and is initially targeted at gamers and owners of professional workstations. There are expectations that it will be used in business settings as well, with a mean time between failures rating of 1.4 million hours. WD said that spec was the highest available reliability rating of any SATA drive.
The SATA drive itself is squeezed into a 2.5-inch chassis, although it is enclosed in what WD calls the IcePack, a 3.5-inch mounting frame with a heat sink built-in. This arrangement allows the small unit to be mounted into a standard 3.5-inch system bay and to stay cool. At present, the drives are not compatible with notebook computers.
John Rydning, research manager for hard drives at IDC, said the VelociRaptor is primarily intended for the gaming market, although its reliability standards are closer to those of an enterprise. He described WD's approach to the cooling issue in this form factor as being "clever and innovative."
36 Hours of HD Video
To give some idea of how much storage is in this drive, WD offered some guideposts. The drive can store up to 85,700 digital photos in JPEG mode with an average size of six MB each, or up to 75,000, four-minute, 128kbps songs.
For video, which eats up storage space, VelociRaptor can carry up to 23 hours of digital video, whether miniDV, DVCAM, or DVC-Pro; up to 130 hours of DVD-quality video; or up to 36 hours of high-definition video, either 720p or 1080i.
Two features in particular are designed to maximize its lifespan. A Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward provides optimal performance when the VelociRaptor is utilized in a multi-drive chassis that is vibration-prone. And the SecurePark feature locks the recording heads away from the disk surface when they are in spin up, spin off or the drive is turned off.
Gamers will be able to get the drive as part of Alienware's high-performance ALX gaming desktop, beginning at the end of this month. Two of the 300GB units will be offered in a RAID 0 configuration, and VelociRaptors will be available through Alienware exclusively this month. Beginning in mid-May, the drives will be available at selected distributors and resellers at a suggested retail price of $299.