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Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB SATA HD
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Date: Apr 21, 2008
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications


Western Digital's Raptor line of high performance hard drives has been a long-time favorite of PC enthusiasts since its introduction several years ago.  When WD's Raptors first hit, their 10K RPM spindle speeds allowed for much lower access times than the more common 7200 RPM desktop drives of the time, and overall relative performance was strong.  Many users were put off by the relatively low capacities of the Raptor, which debuted at 36GB and topped out at 150GB, but they were still wildly successful amongst enthusiasts regardless.

As time wore on though, Western Digital's competitors introduced faster and faster, high capacity drives, that began to out-perform the Raptor in a number of key metrics.  WD too released some fast, high-capacity drives that out-performed even the fastest Raptor in many scenarios.  WD released a number of more eco-friendly drives under their "Green Power" badge as well, which may have led some to believe WD's focus on the enthusiast sector had diminished.  However, as you'll see today, that is definitely not the case.

Today, Western Digital is unveiling the brand new Velociraptor WD3000GLFS 300GB hard drive.  Like the previous generation Raptors, the new WD Velociraptor sports a 10K RPM spindle speed, but the drives are actually quite different.  As you'll see, this new Velociraptor is simply in a league of its own, thanks to some innovative design choices.


Western Digital Velociraptor VR150 300GB Hard Drive
Specifications and Features

*Note:  MTBF now estimated at 1.4M hrs.

In a side by side feature comparison, the WD Velociraptor resembles the older Raptors. The drives share the aforementioned 10K RPM spindle speed, they have the same 16MB buffer, the same reliability ratings, and acoustic and environmental characteristics.  The WD Velociraptor's new design, however, offers significantly increased performance, both in terms of access times, IOPS, and data transfer rates.

We should also point out, that while the Raptor line and Velociraptor share the same acoustic specifications, the drives definitely do not sound alike.  With the new Velociraptor, the high-pitched whine emitted from the previous-gen Raptors has seemingly been eliminated.  However, the Velociraptor's heads can easily be heard chunking along within the drive.

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The WD Velociraptor VR150


At first glance it's clear that the new Western Digital Velociraptor is not your typical 3.5" hard drive.  In fact, it's not really a 3.5" drive at all.



While the WD Velociraptor does have a 3.5" form factor, the actual mechanics are housed in a 2.5" HDA drive with a 15mm z-height, similar to standard notebook hard drives--only taller.  The drive itself is mounted in a what is essentially a large heatsink, that WD has dubbed the IcePAK.  The IcePAK is what allows the WD Velociraptor to be mounted in any standard 3.5" drive bay and, of course, it also helps keep the drive cool.



As you probably surmised, the WD Velociraptor is targeted at performance enthusiasts, workstations, and low-end servers.  Its 300GB capacity comes from a pair of 150GB platters spinning at 10K RPM within the drive mechanism.  Four heads access the platters, and because the platters spin so quickly, and are physically smaller than standard 3.5" drives, the Velociraptor is able to access and transfer data much more quickly than competing offerings.



A visual comparison between the WD Velociraptor and a previous-gen 150GB Raptor reveals almost no similarities, other than their coloring.  And be aware, because the WD Velociraptor is not a standard 3.5" SATA drive, its connectors are not in the same position as other drives.  That makes the Velociraptor incompatible with virtually all external hard drive enclosures, DIY NAS boxes, etc.

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Our Test Systems and HD Tach


To test the new WD Velociraptor, we used a system built around an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3 GHz) processor and Asus P5E3 Premium X48-based motherboard.  The test system was also outfitted with 2GB of DDR3 RAM, an LG optical drive, and a GeForce 8800 GTX. The operating system (Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit) was installed on a separate WD Raptor 74GB drive, and all of the comparison drives were completely blank during testing.

HotHardware Test System
Intel C2E Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3 GHz)


Asus P5E3 Premium
X48 Express / ICH9R chipset

GeForce 8800 GTX

2048MB Corsair DDR3-1333
CAS 7


Integrated on board

Western Digital Velociraptor
300GB - 10,000RPM - SATA 3Gb/s

Western Digital RE WD1000FYPS
1TB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS
640GB - 7,200RPM - SATA 3Gb/s
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
150GB - 10,000RPM - SATA 1.5Gb/s

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows Vista Ultimate
Intel 8.6.1006
DirectX 10

NVIDIA ForceWare v169.25

Benchmarks Used:
HD Tach 3.0.1.0
HD Tune 2.55
IOMeter
PCMark Vantage
SiSoftware Sandra XII SP2

HD Tach v3.0.1.0
http://www.simplisoftware.com/

We began our testing with Simpli Software's HD Tach, which is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device possible."


 












As you look through the performance data, please pay special attention to the graph headers, as lower scores indicate better performance in some tests. As you can see, the new WD Velociraptor smokes all of the other drives we tested in every part of the HD Tach test suite, with the exception of CPU utilization.  While the WD Velociraptor had the highest CPU Utilization of the bunch, it was also clearly the fastest drive of the bunch.

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HD Tune v2.55


HD Tune runs through a set of tests similar to those of HD Tach on the previous page and determines maximum and average transfer rates, access times, and CPU utilization.

HD Tune v2.55
http://www.hdtune.com/

















Once again, the WD Velociraptor decimates all of the other drives in every aspect of HD Tune testing, except for CPU utilization. The WD Velociraptor's minimum data transfer rate in particular was impressive in light of the performance of the reference drives, which includes the the recently released, and already very fast WD6400AAKS.  According to HD Tune, CPU utilization was more in-line with the other drives, but considering the Velociraptor's increased performance, higher CPU utilization is too be expected.

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IOMeter Performance


We also used IOMeter's default test script to with all of the drives represented here.  IOMeter's default test uses 2-Kilobyte random I/Os with a mix of 67% reads and 33% writes, which represents a typical database workload.

IOMeter Performance
Details: www.iometer.org













Once again, the new Western Digital Velociraptor outperforms all of the reference drives in every portion of IOMeter's test script, with the expected caveat of slightly higher CPU utilization.

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PCMark Vantage


Next up is PCMark Vantage from FutureMark Corp. We specifically used only the HDD Test module of this benchmark suite to evaluate all the drives we tested. Feel free to consult Futuremark's white paper on PCMark Vantage for an understanding of what each test component entails and how it calculates its measurements.

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage
http://www.futuremark.com














At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the WD Velociraptor once again significantly outpaced the competition in every module thus far in the PCMark Vantage HDD test suite.

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PCMark Vantage (Cont.)


Futuremark's PCMark Vantage (continued)
http://www.futuremark.com











The WD Velociraptor outpaced our reference drives in the remaining tests modules build into Vantage's HDD test suite as well.  Note the significant advantages for the Velociraptor which range from about 15% to over 100% in some tests.

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SiSoft SANDRA XII SP2


In our SiSoft SANDRA XII SP2 testing, we use two of the suites built-in benchmarks: Physical Disk and File System. We ran the Physical Disk tests before formatting the test drives, but had to format the drives in order to run the File System tests. The results from this testing can be seen on this and the next page.

SiSoftware SANDRA XII SP2
http://www.sisoftware.net














The WD Velociraptor outperformed all of the other drives we tested by significant margins in every measurable way according to SiSoft SANDRA's Physical Disk and File System benchmarks.

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SiSoft SANDRA XII SP1 (Cont.)


SiSoftware Sandra XII SP1 (continued)
http://www.sisoftware.net














The rest of SiSoft SANDRA's file system tests tell essentially the same story, with the WD Velociraptor outpacing the reference drives by wide margins in all but the buffered read tests.

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Power Consumption


Although hard drives don't typically draw huge amounts of power, we still wanted to see how the Velociraptor compared to its peets in terms of power consumption. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and under load. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the drives alone.

Power Consumption
As Reported by Seasonic Power Angel




Somewhat surprisingly, despite offering the best overall performance, the WD Velociraptor also consumes the least amount of power.  The deltas are quite small amongst the three newest drives (the Velociraptor, Caviar SE16 WD64000AAKS, and RE WD1000FYPS), with only a single watt or two separating the drives, but the Velociraptor was lowest nonetheless.

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Our Summary and Conclusion


Performance Summary: Summarizing the WD Velociraptor's performance couldn't be any easier. In every benchmark and test we ran, the new Velociraptor was clearly the fastest drive of the lot, and usually by a wide margin.  In terms of sequential or random reads and writes, access time, I/Os, or burst rates, the WD Velociraptor is the fastest hard drive we have ever tested. CPU utilization was markedly higher than the other drives we tested, but higher utilization is to be expected considering the Velociraptor's performance characteristics.  We should note, that the drive we tested was an engineering sample and testing of the firmware was not 100% complete.  It's possible, tweaks to the drive's firmware could change its performance versus what you've seen here, but WD assures us "it will only get better".





Although they've been relatively quiet on the enthusiast front for quite a while, the Velociraptor proves Western Digital still knows how to produce high performance products for power users.  From a performance standpoint, at least for now, the WD Velociraptor its quiet simply in a league of its own.

Of course, with only a 300GB capacity (279GB formatted) the Velociraptor suffers from the same shortcoming of its predecessors in today's landscape where 750GB can be had for well below $200.  But like Raptors that came before it, we suspect enthusiasts won't mind considering the drives extreme performance.  At an MSRP of $299 though, a price per gigabyte leader the Velociraptor is not.  While some very fast high-capacity drives can be had for roughly .22 per gigabyte, the Velociraptor commands a hefty $1.

The WD Velociraptor will be available very soon in select Alienware systems and it should be in the channel sometime in mid-May.  If you're in the market for some super-fast storage, and can wait just a little longer, do yourself a favor and check out the WD Velociraptor.




  

  

  • Extremely FAST
  • Low Power Consumption
  • WD IcePAK Cooling
  • High Cost Per Gigabyte
  • Relatively Low Capacity



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