Jun 21, 2010

Western Digital Velociraptor Review


When Western Digital first released it's first series of 10,000 rpm hard-drives which were simply called the "Raptor" line it was quite the stir in the computing world.  The Raptor was the first non-SCSI, SATA 1.0 capable drive to break the 7200 rpm platter speed and it was implemented everywhere from high-end gaming PC's that wanted fast seek times to enterprise-class server racks.

Since then the Raptor has evolved into the "Velociraptor" which has shrunk it's form factor from the standard 3.5" inch desktop size to a slimmed-down 2.5" inch size.  (Note: The Velociraptor is NOT designed for any laptop or portable use currently)  In it's current iteration the new "mini-Raptor" comes in 3 flavors:  A bare 2.5" inch SATA 2.0 interface, and 2 hybrid versions where the 2.5" inch drive core is installed into a 3.5" inch shell that acts both as a mount for internal desktop or server-rack use and really big heatsink.

Despite the smaller form factor from the original the new Velociraptor (that's a tough one to type without mis-spelling!) actually has a small performance gain of up to 35% from the previous generation according to Western Digital, with an average SEEK time of 4.2 ms and average WRITE of 4.7 ms and a theoretical 3Gps SATA 2.0 speed.

I say theoretical because in practical use even this latest-gen Raptor doesn't push out more than approximately 85-98 Mb/s when connected to a system either PC or Mac which means it's not an ideal platform for using in a RAID of any kind.  But that's never been it's intended use, certainly not for the desktop market.  In fact, it's best implementation is as a boot-volume wither it's PC or Mac, where the ultra-fast seek times will allow the OS to navigate around to all it's assets and loaded applications quickly, faster than anything else with exception to an SSD-type disk.  (SSD's are still to pricey to be considered a good purchase for even advanced computer users)


The Velociraptor some in two sizes, 300GB and 150GB so if you're main boot volume is chock-full of applications, user-files and the OS then it may not have enough storage space to accommodate the need.  But if you're smart about how you allocate your resources, which is to only load the OS and your applications on the boot volume (and whatever necessary cache files need to live there because of application-specific requirements) then this ultra-fast data mover from Western Digital is as blistering fast as spinning-disk HDD's get without the kings-ransom cost of SCSI.

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