Davin

Western Digital Raptor WD740GD Preview

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Western Digital's Raptor series remains alone as the only 10,000 RPM ATA drive series. Impressive as it was, however, the Raptor WD360GD came up short in a few areas- capacity, idle noise, and multi-user performance. Western Digital claims to have addressed all three issues while also increasing performance. Has the ATA titan delivered? Join SR for a special sneak peak at the next-generation Western Digital Raptor WD740GD.

Western Digital Raptor WD740GD Preview

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I've been burnt on the first series raptor - I don't know if I trust WD enough to give them my money again..............

I'd rather wait several months after the release of this and be 100% sure that END USERS get the final version of the drive with TCQ and the same kind of performance (OR HIGHER) than in this review.

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Did I mention that I just applied for a refund from my 1999 taxes (adjustment in my favor!)? And that it could pay for a few 74G Raptors???

I mean, really, what else could I spend it on after a preview like this...?

...drool...

Future Shock

N.B. - Davin and Eugene - EXCELLENT explanation of the three previous gen Raptor benchies and complications.

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Very, very nice...

Just sold my old workstation, laptop, and monitor, to "subsidize" the building of my new box.

I have everything picked out... except the hard disk (and the display). I don't need tons of space (have an array for that, and backup is to tape), I just want a very quick responsive drive for the box. So I've been waiting for the 74G Raptor.

Well, I may not be able to get my paws on the drive yet, I'm eagerly awaiting it. Hopefully it won't be too much more than $260 at the wholesalers though, because I'm feeling awfully guilty on getting 1GB of that OCZ memory with the 2-2-2-5 timings.

Course the sad part is with a rockin' box, I'm waiting for Jan/Feb for the new video cards, so I'll be flailing with a GeForce2 until post Radeon 9800XT/GeForce FX 5950. :(

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"As has been the case with all bridged solutions (that is to say, all serial ATA drives except Seagate's Barracuda series), the new Raptor features both a newer 15-pin power connector as well as the more traditional 4-pin molex receptacle."

That's strange, I thought the Samsung Serial ATA drives have a bridge chip and only a 15 pin power connector and no molex. I'm sure I saw a photo of a Samsung Serial ATA drive in a review somewhere and it had no molex connector.

Anyway that's only a minor matter, I enjoyed reading the preview. These new Raptors are the ant's pants now that they've got rid of the whine. The larger capacity should make them appeal to many more people who would like super speed and a five year warranty. If they become a popular choice, it may convince other manufacturers to speed up the development of their 10,000 rpm (or 15,000 rpm :)) Serial ATA drives, which will be good.

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An excellent drive now in an interesting sweet point capacity. 74GB is really nice.

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I've been refreshing SR in my browser for days now waiting for this review. THANK YOU Davin and Eugene - You prove again and again, that SR is the place to look for the best hd reviews on the planet... :)

This drive sure looks like a killer - I have an aging Seagate Cheetah X15 in my box at home, but it looks like it will only beat the WD740GD in seektime :rolleyes:;) - Could be time for a new "brick" in my box... :D

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Though it features two platters and a 10,000 RPM spindle speed, WD's first exclusively fluid dynamic bearing- based drive delivers noise floors every bit as competitive as Seagate's Barracuda ATA series. That's pretty darn quiet!

If this holds true for the retail part, my Seagate Barracuda IV will finally be able to retire. This drive looks suberb! :D

Any word on when you receive a retail part for final review (aka close to shipping date)?

BTW: Thanks for an awesome site! I have been looking here for advice, insight and reviews over the years and nobody compares. B)

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Hi all,

I just read this great pReview and started to compare some tests against my own system.

And I came to think about adding "seek noise" to the test-bed. I recently bought a 7K250 160GB HD after reading the review here of course ;P

And what I noticed is that its much more quiet than my older 180GXP 180GB when seeking and during other HD work, when idling its pretty much the same (7K250 is only slightly quieter).

This could be because of my 7K250 only has 2 platters and the 180GXP has 3 but still "seek noise" tells much more than idle noise and should be added to the test-bed as well.

-thx

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Won’t this be a problem for Seagate, Maxtor and IBM/Hitachi SCSI drives? Seems like WD is engineering a SATA drive capable of delivering performance that of a high end SCSI drive of its RPM spindle class. Why did they quit the SCSI business...

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Won’t this be a problem for Seagate, Maxtor and IBM/Hitachi SCSI drives? Seems like WD is engineering a SATA drive capable of delivering performance that of a high end SCSI drive of its RPM spindle class. Why did they quit the SCSI business...

Did you look at the server benchmarks? While the lack of TCQ is significant, I'm not sure that its addition could, by itself, make up the >25% difference between the Raptor and the 10k SCSI drives. I think the firmware is too heavily tweaked for single-user performance for it to match the SCSI drives in a multi-user scenario.

As great as this drive sounds, I just can't help but think about the possibility of WD tweaking the drive specifically for the SR set of benchmarks. Of course, I have absolutely no evidence to support this possibility, but with all the Nvidia driver stuff a while back, I'm a bit more hesitant to get excited about benchmarks.

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Did you look at the server benchmarks? While the lack of TCQ is significant, I'm not sure that its addition could, by itself, make up the >25% difference between the Raptor and the 10k SCSI drives. I think the firmware is too heavily tweaked for single-user performance for it to match the SCSI drives in a multi-user scenario.

I dunno, TCQ might make up for it and thensome. Take a SCSI RAID array, and turn off TCQ in the Windows registry. Run some benchmarks. Under heavy loads, performance degrades considerably. When I had issues with my array (four ST318406LCs -- Seagate 10K.6 18.2G drives), and had to turn off TCQ to attempt to debug things, and performance sort of fell off a cliff.

Well, maybe not a cliff. But a steep hill.

I agree that the firmware is heavily tweaked for single-user, but keep in mind that these things are offered in servers already. Even Dell offers them. They should be competitive with other 10K SCSI offerings. I don't expect it to smoke them, but it should be near the top of the heap.

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It is these results, however, that are most subject to change when a final retail product is mated with an appropriate controller. Although the Raptor's TCQ will be implemented in firmware (as oppose to hardware in most SCSI drives), its presence will dramatically increase the WD740GD's viability as loads scale upwards.

What constitutes an 'appropriate controller'?

If TCQ is implemented at the device level is there any benefit or degredation when not connected to an 'appropriate controller'?

Can TCQ be turned off with a utility if it does hinder performance?

Are any drivers needed to enable the benefits of TCQ?

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Won’t this be a problem for Seagate, Maxtor and IBM/Hitachi SCSI drives? Seems like WD is engineering a SATA drive capable of delivering performance that of a high end SCSI drive of its RPM spindle class. Why did they quit the SCSI business...

Did you look at the server benchmarks? While the lack of TCQ is significant, I'm not sure that its addition could, by itself, make up the >25% difference between the Raptor and the 10k SCSI drives. I think the firmware is too heavily tweaked for single-user performance for it to match the SCSI drives in a multi-user scenario.

As great as this drive sounds, I just can't help but think about the possibility of WD tweaking the drive specifically for the SR set of benchmarks. Of course, I have absolutely no evidence to support this possibility, but with all the Nvidia driver stuff a while back, I'm a bit more hesitant to get excited about benchmarks.

Yup, i know in TCQ, the drive just wasn't even close to 10k SCSI drives but it sure has a huge boost for STR's in the begining and the ending!. Now if you where to choose the drive that could copy files the fastest in the 10k RPM area, which one would you choose? seems like the Raptor won on that area with it's newer release :(

Anyways, it's a WD drive and i just don't like them not for personal experience but just because, Maxtor's on my list and their Hard Drives pack a punch for what you get. And you can't go wrong with Seagate SCSI drives :D , But the Atlas from Maxtor are getting some medals for their performance indeed :ph34r:

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Great job on the preview...and thanks for labeling it a preview. :)

As someone else mentioned, thanks for listing the previous Raptor tests and commenting on them.

I'm definitely waiting to see what effect TCQ has on the "server" performance. Maybe these new raptors will be faster than my Cheetah X15. (Under normal usage my X15 and Raptor seem to be a match, but when I start to use my system, the X15 pulls ahead.)

Oh well, looks like my 36GB Raptor's days are numbered. Another piece for my museum of technological firsts. :lol:

DogEared

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I really think that drive access time and reduction is drive latency are the important issues here! TCQ and other features that are like deserve to stay on where they originated, hence scsi!. i think that all the hype over scsi features in ATA is all just that -- hype! Is anyone, gonna really notice these features in ata, scsi definitely, not ATA. So yes, WD, tweaks firmware (maybe / maybe not), so they lose some I/O, bid DEAL! All the really counts that the drive delivers a great 5 year warranty (like scsi) and that the cost is comparable to regular ATA 7.2k drives currently in circulation! I hope that anyone who reads this does not just think i am bad mouthing good quality of drives, but needless to say, the main thing we as HDD users should seriously (number 1) consider is reliability and warranty that the hdd company offers!

Thx

SCSA

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Great review. This drive looks like it has tremendous potential for high end desktop users and low end workgroup servers. Might make one heck of a package with MS Small Business Server 2003 on a nice high-end P4 machine or a low-end Xeon or Opteron.

One suggestion: I think it would be a very good idea for SR to add a high-end multimedia benchmark.

"In a perfect world" the benchmark would include some combination of the following:

1) Multitrack high definition audio recording and playback

A good benchmark might be to use Cubase SX or Sonar or something and just keep adding record tracks until you start seeing dropouts, clicks, and pops in the recorded data. Playback could work similarly.

2) Nonlinear video editing

I'm an audio guy, so I don't really know how to set up a benchmark for this purpose. Perhaps you could see how many editing tasks you could perform at once or something, e.g. with Pinnacle studio or something? I dunno, but I'm sure there are plenty of video editing types who would love to see this type of review.

I'll tell you this much, if you were indeed to add this type of benchmarking to your test routines, you would probably see a readership spike - audio and video people are particularly sensitive to drive capability issues, and are very dedicated to their work (not to mention their hardware!). Reviews that included this type of information would almost certainly propagate across the forums and bring a lot of new readers in.

Just some thoughts...

Jacob

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I really think that drive access time and reduction is drive latency are the important issues here! TCQ and other features that are like deserve to stay on where they originated, hence scsi!.  i think that all the hype over scsi features in ATA is all just that -- hype! Is anyone, gonna really notice these features in ata, scsi definitely, not ATA.  So yes, WD, tweaks firmware (maybe / maybe not), so they lose some I/O, bid DEAL! All the really counts that the drive delivers a great 5 year warranty (like scsi) and that the cost is comparable to regular ATA 7.2k drives currently in circulation!

I don't see how $4/gig for the Raptor is at all comparable to ~$1/gig for most 7.2k ATA drives if you don't care about performance. An older generation 10k SCSI drive would be better if you want a 5 year warranty with a decent price for capacity.

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After reading this article I'm seriously considering removing all scsi support in the small organization (~50 people) that I work in. I'm thinking of upgrading all old scsi storage subsystems with 3ware serial controllers along with these 2nd generation Raptor drives in 8 servers. Would anyone here have any commends or suggestions on this kind of configuration?

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