WD challenges SSDs with world’s fastest hard drive

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WD challenges SSDs with world’s fastest hard drive

Lake Forest (CA) – Western Digital (WD) today introduced its new Velociraptor hard drive, a performance-tuned device that not only promises to offer a substantial speed increase over its predecessor, but is also likely to make you think twice about that $1000+ 64 GB solid state disk drive for your enthusiast PC. First reviews are in and it seems that this drive can compete with performance SSDs in numerous benchmarks.   

WD has completely rethought the high-end consumer hard drive space and it seems that there is much more life left in these devices than we previously thought. At least on the performance side, it can offer the same data transfer rates than SATA SSDs for about 33% of their price and 3.7 times their capacity (300 GB vs. 64 GB).

Other than the previous Raptor drive, the new Velociraptor is actually an enterprise-class 2.5” drive that is enclosed in a 3.5” heat sink mounting frame called IcePak. The frame’s purpose is to keep the drive cool and increase its reliability, which stands at 1.4 million hours meantime between failure, which is about half the reliability of current SSDs, but about three times the rating of average hard drives.

WD claims that the Velociraptor is about 35% faster than its predecessor and reviews seem to confirm this claim. Tom’s Hardware found that the drive achieves data read rates of 65.2 and 124.6 MB/s, with an average of 102.0 MB/s. Write performance is equally impressive at 77.5 to 123.9 MB/s, with an average of 101.6 MB/s.  These results nearly match and even exceed the transfer speeds of current performance SSDs, which hit 100 MB/s write speeds and 120 MB/s read speeds.

Among hard drives, the Velociraptor takes the lead in most benchmarks in Tom’s Hardware’s parcours of tests, and only has to retreat in server-specific benchmarks such as I/O runs, file server and web server tests. Among consumer-related benchmarks, it leads the field with the exception of the Windows XP startup test, in which Seagate’s 15K Savvio drive holds the lead. The mounting frame also delivers on its promises, as the publication found a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius for the drive, which compares as much as 53 degrees Celsius in Hitachi’s 1 TB drive.

An area where the hard drive can’t reach the SSD performance remains power consumption. While typical SSDs consume about 1.5 watts under load, the WD drive is rated at 6.08 watts during read and write processes.  

WD offers the Velociraptor for $300 MSRP, which is expensive for a 300 GB hard drive (the formatted capacity is actually 300,069 MB), but a relative bargain for a performance drive. A 64 GB SATA SSD will set you back at least $1100 and as much as $2000. Step up to 128 GB and you are looking at about $3000 to $4000.

It looks like hard drive have suddenly become very interesting again even for the most performance hungry users.