When it comes to hard drives, size and speed can make a real difference in performance and usability, and Western Digital thinks its new VelociRaptor hard drive is a winner in both areas. The new WD VelociRaptor is an enterprise-capable drive with twice the capacity and a 35 percent performance boost over Western Digital's existing family of Raptor hard drives.
According to Tom McDorman, VP and general manager of Western Digital's enterprise business unit, the VelociRaptor drive delivers better performance and reliability than all other SATA hard drives currently on the market. While the VelociRaptor is well suited for low-end servers and workstations on the business side, it also packs a performance punch designed for PC power users with a thirst for speed and storage performance.
Fast and Furious
The VelociRaptor is a 300GB hard drive that spins at 10,000 rpm, with a three Gb/s interface and a 16MB cache. In terms of reliability, Western Digital says the drive has a mean time between failures (MTBF) rating of 1.4 million hours. That, says Western Digital, is 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."
A Day and a Half of HD Video
To give a rough idea of how much capacity the VelociRaptor provides, WD estimates storage of up to 85,700 digital photos in JPEG mode with an average size of six MB each, or up to 75,000, four-minute, 128 kbps 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 of the VelociRaptor in particular are designed to maximize its lifespan. A Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward provides optimal performance when the VelociRaptor is used 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.
Western Digital has begun shipping the VelociRaptor, which will first become available to gamers 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. The drives will be available exclusively through Alienware in April. Starting mid-May, the drives will also be available at a suggested retail price of $299, through distributors and resellers.
© 2017 Barry Levine under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.