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WD VelociRaptor 600GB: Fastest Hard Drive Ever
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Date: Apr 06, 2010
Section:Storage
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

 

With all of the press solid state drives have received over the last year or so, it would be easy to think that few advancements have been made in the hard drive space. After all, hard drive capacities have seemingly hit a plateau at 2TB, performance can't come close to even a mid-range SSD in most scenarios, and it's hard to imagine prices falling any lower, when some drives can be had for about 7.5 cents per gigabyte.  However, Western Digital, despite releasing their very own line of SSDs recently, continues to push the performance envelope with traditional spinning hard drives. Need evidence? Then feast your eyes on the brand new WD VelociRaptor 600GB...


WD's VelociRaptor 600GB, Model WD6000HLHX

Like the first-Gen VelociRaptor, the new 600GB variant you see pictured here employs a 2.5" form factor, with a 10K RPM spindle speed. This new offering, however, sports denser platters, more cache, a SATA 6Gb/s interface, and a dual-core processor; all features designed to crank performance up a notch or three. Will the new VelociRaptor hit the same speeds as an SSD? No. But it is the fastest HD we have ever tested. Read on and see for youself.

WD VelociRaptor (BLHX / HLHX Models)
Specifications and Features

Product Description
  • WD VelociRaptor
  • 2.5-inch bare drive
  • 3.5-inch w/IcePack configurations
  • 10,000 RPM
  • 32 MB buffer
  • Data X-fer Rate (Buffer to Disk) 145MB/s
  • 15mm z-height
  • 3-platter design, 200 GB/platter
  • Capacities of: 450 GB and 600 GB

Data path protection

  • Manufactured to Enterprise Reliability Standards
  • 1.4 million hours MTBF
  • 24x7 Power on (8760 annual POH)
  • Error Recovery
  • RAID-specific time-limited error recovery (TLER)
  • Vibration Tolerance
  • Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (Enhanced RAFF)
  • 600k Head Load / Unload Cycles
  • Data LifeGuard 3
  • 5-year Warranty

 

Product Features

  • Halogen free
  • Full dual core processor
  • SATA 6 Gb/s

 


Looking at its specifications and features, one could easily confuse the WD VelociRaptor 600GB drive with a less advanced offering. It has "only" 32MB of cache, whereas many other current high-end hard drives feature 64MB, and its capacity its capacity is only 600GB. The WD VelociRaptor 600GB drive's 10K RPM spindle speed, SATA 6Gb/s support, and dual-core processor / controller, however, hint at the ultra high-performance this drive is capable of, relatively speaking of course.
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WD VelociRaptor 600GB

Like the original WD VelociRaptor, this latest iteration has a unique aesthetic, at least when it is paired to the WD IcePak. While the actual drive conforms to the 2.5" form factor, sliding it into the IcePak essentially transforms it into a 3.5" drive with some additional cooling capabilities, of course...

 

 
WD's VelociRaptor 600GB, Model WD6000HLHX

While the WD Velociraptor HLHX model shown here does conform the standard 3.5" form factor, the actual drive mechanics are housed in a 2.5" HDA drive with a 15mm z-height, similar to the original. The drive itself is mounted in a what is essentially a large heatsink, that keeps the drive cool, while also adapting its connectors to fit in any standard 3.5" bay with backplane.

As you probably know, the WD VelociRaptor is targeted at performance enthusiasts, workstations, and the enterprise. Its 600GB capacity comes from a trio of 200GB platters spinning at 10K RPM within the drive mechanism. Six heads access the platters, and because the platters spin so quickly relative to most other hard drives, and are physically smaller than standard 3.5" drives, the Velociraptor is able to access and transfer data much more quickly than full sized, 3.5" offerings. Complimenting the head and platters is 32MB of data cache and a dual-core processor / controller. In addition, the new WD VelociRaptor also supports a SATA 6Gb/s interface, although it's unlikely any traditional, spinning hard drive will be able to saturate even a SATA 3Gb/s interface any time soon.

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Test System and IOMeter

Our Test MethodologiesUnder each test condition, the drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a different hard disk used for the OS and benchmark installations.  The drives were left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO and Vantage benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7 870


Asus P7P55D-Premium
(P55 Express Chipset)


GeForce GTX 280

6144MB Corsair DDR3-1333
CAS 7


Integrated on board

WD VelociRaptor 600GB
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
Seagate Barracuda XT
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11
WD RE4

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -
Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows Vista Ultimate
Intel 9.1.0.1012
DirectX 10
NVIDIA v190.82

Benchmarks Used:
HD Tach 3.0.1.0
IOMeter 2008
ATTO ver 2.41
CrystalDiskMark
PCMark Vantage
SiSoftware Sandra 2009 SP4a

 IOMeter
 I/O Subsystem Measurement Tool

In the following tables, we're showing two sets of IOMeter access patterns running on our test drives; one with an 8K transfer size, 80% reads (20% writes) and 80% random (20% sequential) access and one with IOMeter's default access pattern of 2K transfers, 67% reads and 100% random access.

Western Digital's new 600GB VelociRaptor is the fastest of the hard drives tested here, with only the 300GB VelociRaptor puttin up similar numbers. Response times were unexpectedly high, but in terms of IOPS and data transfer rates, the VelociRaptor crushed the competition.

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SiSoft SANDRA Read & Write

Testing began with SiSoftware's SANDRA XII, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provided the results from our comparison drives. The benchmarks were run without formatting and read performance metrics are detailed below. We also included SANDRA's graph so you are able to see how the drive performs over time along with the average rated result.

 SiSoft SANDRA 2009
 Synthetic Benchmarks



WD VelociRaptor 600GB 6G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 6G
 


WD VelociRaptor 300GB 3G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 3G
 


Western Digital RE4


Seagate Barracuda 7200.11


With regard to Read performance, the WD VelociRaptor 600GB is up to 30% faster than the older 300GB version and about 16% to 18% faster than the high-performance, high-capacity reference drives tested here.

 


WD VelociRaptor 600GB 6G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 6G

 


WD VelociRaptor 300GB 3G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 3G

 


Western Digital RE4


Seagate Barracuda 7200.11

The same holds true in SANDRA's Write performance test. Here, the WD VelociRaptor 600GB is about 25% faster than the competition.

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ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO is a more straight-forward type of disk benchmark that measures transfers across a specific volume length.  It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart.  We chose .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes over a total max volume length of 256MB.  This test was performed on blank, formatted drives with NTFS partitions.

ATTO Disk Benchmark - Read/Write Performance
Version 2.41



WD VelociRaptor 600GB 6G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 6G

 


WD VelociRaptor 300GB 3G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 3G

 


Western Digital RE4


Seagate Barracuda 7200.11

The new WD VelociRaptor 600GB drive was once again the fastest of the bunch. According to the ATTO Disk Benchmark, the WD VelociRaptor 600GB offers faster reads and write speeds than any of the other drives tested.

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CrystalDiskMark Testing

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic test that evaluates both sequential as well as random small and large file transfers.  It does a nice job of providing a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to hard drive performance, best case being large sequential transfers and worse case being small, random 4K transfers. 

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests



WD VelociRaptor 600GB 6G



Seagate Barracuda XT 6G

 


WD VelociRaptor 300GB 3G



Seagate Barracuda XT 3G

 


Western Digital RE4


Seagate Barracuda 7200.11


CrystalDiskMark tells somewhat of a different story than ATTO. Here, the WD RE4 2TB drive puts up better sequential read and 512K write performance than the new VelociRaptor, but the VelociRaptor still manages to outpace all of the other drives handily.

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HD Tach Testing

Simpli Software's HD Tach 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, 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 being tested."

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



WD VelociRaptor 600GB 6G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 6G

 


WD VelociRaptor 600GB 6G
 


Seagate Barracuda XT 3G

 


Western Digital RE4


Seagate Barracuda 7200.11

According to the HD Tach benchmark, the new WD VelociRaptor 600GB drive is significantly faster (about 25% give or take) than any of the other drives tested here, and its access times were roughly half that of the 7200 RPM offerings.

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PCMark Vantage

Next we ran the drives through a battery of tests in PCMark Vantage from Futuremark Corp. We specifically used only the HDD Test module of this benchmark suite to evaluate all of 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. For specific information on how the HDD Test module arrives at its performance measurements, we'd encourage you to read pages 35 and 36 of the white paper.

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


We really like PCMark Vantage's HDD Performance for its real-world application measurement approach to testing.  From simple Windows Vista start-up performance to data streaming from a disk drive in a game engine and video editing with Windows Movie Maker, we feel confident that these tests best illustrate the real performance profile of our SSDs in an end user/consumer PC usage model.


Talk about a blow-out. The new WD VelociRaptor 600GB drive annihilated the competition in these four tests from the PCMark Vantage suite. None of the other drives came close to touching it.

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PCMark Vantage (cont.)

Our next series of Vantage tests will stress write performance of the drives. Applications like video editing, streaming and recording are the focus here...

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


Once again, the new VelociRaptor 600GB drive significantly outpaces the competition in every test (while the actual margins may look small in some tests, the percentage gains are significant). The older 300GB VelociRaptor comes close to the new drive in a couple of the tests, but there is no contest in the others.

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The WD VelociRaptor 600GB performance characteristics speak for themselves really. Though, to put it simply, the WD VelociRaptor 600GB is the fastest hard drive we have tested to date, bar none. The drive's increased areal density and cache, along with whatever other secret sauce WD has baked in, resulted in significantly increased performance over the first-gen 300GB VelociRaptor. Finally, the drive was faster than our high-end 2TB reference drives as well, virtually across the board.

The landscape in the PC storage space is very different today than it was when the original VelociRaptor launched in April of last year. Since then, Solid State Drives, while still extremely expensive in terms of cost per GB, have gotten much more affordable and performance has increased dramatically. At the same time, the cost of relatively speedy, high-capacity 7200 RPM hard drives has dropped to right around $.10 per GB (give or take a couple of pennies). In the current market, it would be possible to purchase a 60GB SSD to use as a boot volume and a pair of relatively fast 7200RPM 640GB - 1TB hard drives, for the same price as a single 600GB VelociRaptor. RAID the hard drives together and you end up with a "best of both worlds" type of scenario--a super fast solid state boot volume and a large bulk storage volume, that also happens to be pretty fast. With options like that possible today, it's increasingly more difficult to find the ideal fit for the VelociRaptor 600GB drive in an enthusiast's desktop rig, today. With that said, the new WD VelociRaptor is still the fastest hard drive money can buy. And it offers much more capacity than a similarly priced SSD, while at the same time being measurably faster than any other single HD thanks to its larger cache, increased areal density, and beefed-up dual-core controller versus the original. 

There are actually four models of WD VelociRaptor about to hit the scene, two with 600GB capacities and two with 450GB. Models WD4500HLHX and WD6000HLHX (the version we tested) are 3.5-inch versions that include the WD IcePack and will be available immediately at select distributors and resellers. 2.5-inch versions of the WD VelociRaptor without the IcePack module (models WD4500BLHX and WD6000BLHX) are currently being evaluated by OEM customers and will be available sometime later this quarter. The MSRPs of the WD VelociRaptor 450GB (model WD4500HLHX) is $299 and the 600GB (model WD6000HLHX) is $329. At those prices, the WD VelociRaptor costs about $0.55 per GB, or about 5x more per GB than some of the more affordable 7200 RPM, 640GB - 1TB drives currently on the market. That's a pretty steep premium for the extra performance. In light of current SSD offerings and the strong performance of relatively inexpensive 7200RPM drives, we feel pricing on the WD VelociRaptor--at least in terms of its MSRP--is a little on the high side. Hopefully street prices will ultimately settle somewhere south of the MSRP, because the WD VelociRaptor is a killer hard drive, worthy of your consideration if you're in the market for the fastest spinning media you can get your hands on.


 

  • Fastest HD Yet
  • Double The Capacity Of Previous VelociRaptor
  • SATA 6G Support
  • Relatively Quiet
  • High Cost Per GB Versus 7200RPM Hard Drives



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