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Western Digital Raptor WD360GD

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Our initial look at Western Digital's 10,000 RPM Serial ATA Raptor left many readers disappointed. However, the drive, an early pre-production concept model, lacked numerous features and refinements that substantially impact performance. For this final review, WD provided a production model unit. How large of a difference do the changes make? Join us for a comprehensive review of the most highly anticipated drive in ages!

Western Digital Raptor WD360GD Review

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Fantastic. The first high-performance, low-vibration low-capacity drive to come about in a long time.... even in the absense of command queueing, if the price is right, this could be an amazing drive inside a midrange array... low capacity means more spindles. There may not be a better drive on the market for data warehousing applications. Now, where are the SATA SANs?!

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This drive needs more improvement! And again WDC used extensive firmware tweaks to make their perform above par. Oh well, I'll wait For HITACHI's entrance unit. At least they are moral, hell maxtor's entrance version will be better!

take it at whatever meaning you want folks!

thx,

mann

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This drive needs more improvement! And again WDC used extensive firmware tweaks to make their perform above par.  Oh well, I'll wait For HITACHI's entrance unit.  At least they are moral, hell maxtor's entrance version will be better!

take it at whatever meaning you want folks!

thx,  

mann

HITACHI is coming out w/ 10K rpm SATA hard drives?!?!? When will THOSE be out?!?!

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This drive needs more improvement! And again WDC used extensive firmware tweaks to make their perform above par.  Oh well, I'll wait For HITACHI's entrance unit.  At least they are moral, hell maxtor's entrance version will be better!

take it at whatever meaning you want folks!

thx,  

mann

:? As long as the drive performs, does it matter how it's achieved (with firmware instead of mechanics)?

Certainly looks respectable for the first 10K IDE drive. Not going to seriously threaten 10K SCSI in all regards, but then again, I think it was a bit much to expect that for a first-gen product.

mann, do you have sources indicating Maxtor or Hitachi are working on and will soon release a 10K IDE drive? The industry was actually rather (uncharacteristically) tight-lipped about WD's drive before it came out.

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Interesting review (thank you)

I must say, I wish I had exposure to a "3'rd or 4'th gen 10,000rpm scsi drive" as I am very much aganist annoying whines.

Does anyone know if these babies are mounted into a case or on a desk while being benched?

Cause I've got a "no vibes III" from germany and it stops seek noise (to an extent) but not spindle noise, however I do have my case on the floor, on thick carpet with the cover on.........

I guess I'll have to wait for another "noise freak" to get one and review it personally and perhaps silent pc review.

i'm a bit disapointed it does not support command queuing however as anything to increase performance is good enough for me.

(is this some kind of bug? surely if it's a serial ata feature wd need to just turn it on or re-flash the firmware of the disk)

Can anyone give some feedback on how that might work (as I simply don't know if it's a software only feature or what)

Thanks again Eugene, you have definately tempted me :)

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This drive needs more improvement! And again WDC used extensive firmware tweaks to make their perform above par.  Oh well, I'll wait For HITACHI's entrance unit.  At least they are moral, hell maxtor's entrance version will be better!

So tweaking a product's firmware to perform it's best is immoral now!?!? What kind of comment is this?

The firmware in drives is the main differentiating factor between drives of the same class (rpm and ariel density). It's the reason SCSI drives perform well in server environments (including command queuing, which is handled by the firmware) and drives such as the Western Digital JB series have similar to desktop performance to drives with significantly better base specifications.

It's the firmware that's made this drive such a high performance desktop drive and average server drive, as WD have a lot of skill and experience in tuning their firmware for desktops, and not so much for servers.

Abrasion, if you're planning on using this drive in a desktop, you're not missing out on much by not having command queuing. It's possible for WD to write a new firmware with support for it, but it's not that common for new hard drive firmware to be made publicly available. It has been done plenty of times before, but don't hold your breath...

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Interesting review (thank you)

I must say, I wish I had exposure to a "3'rd or 4'th gen 10,000rpm scsi drive" as I am very much aganist annoying whines.

Does anyone know if these babies are mounted into a case or on a desk while being benched?

Cause I've got a "no vibes III" from germany and it stops seek noise (to an extent) but not spindle noise, however I do have my case on the floor, on thick carpet with the cover on.........

I guess I'll have to wait for another "noise freak" to get one and review it personally and perhaps silent pc review.

i'm a bit disapointed it does not support command queuing however as anything to increase performance is good enough for me.

(is this some kind of bug? surely if it's a serial ata feature wd need to just turn it on or re-flash the firmware of the disk)

Can anyone give some feedback on how that might work (as I simply don't know if it's a software only feature or what)

Thanks again Eugene, you have definately tempted me :)

I thought i was THE ONLY 1 that had heard about the "no vibes III"... i want to get that on my next pc... but i have a few questions about that though: 1) Is it available ONLY in the uk?!?! i'd really like to get it from USA (preferably newegg :D ), but have found it ONLY on 1 website. 2) Duz it really reduce noise? and if so, significantly or not?!?! 3) Is it worth the money?!?!? 4) Seeing as you have one, can they be home made?!?!

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One of the big deals wth SATA was supposed to be CPU utilization.

I'm kind of supprised not that I think about it, as to why this isn done for every drive. Surely ther must be some differences from drive to drive.

Oh, and why is write service time for this drive "0". Is it the cache?

thanks

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Oh, and why is write service time for this drive "0". Is it the cache?

From SR's Seagate SATA review:

"Unfortunately, the use of an external controller (the Promise SATA150 TX4) and its associated driver makes it difficult to consistently disable write caching which precludes us from presenting average write access times."

I'm interested to hear if this drive actually feels as fast in use as it tests in benchmarks. From my own personal experience, the WD JB drives don't feel any faster than the corresponding BB drives yet benchmarks show it consistenty winning by 20% or more. To me the DM+ 9 8MB drives felt faster than the current JB drives, which is why I returned a JB drive and kept the Maxtor, yet benchmarks suggest otherwise. It also appears that while the BB line is usually even or slower than the other companies' 2MB lines, the JB line seems to win pretty decisively in the workstation BM's vs the 8MB drives of the competition. I'm not going to accuse WD of flubbing benchmarks as I don't really see how they would, but I have felt for a while that the benchmarks these drives post don't represent how they really perform or how fast they feel. So I'm interested to hear if the Raptor feels as fast as it is benchmarking compared to the competition.

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Guest Eugene
So tweaking a product's firmware to perform it's best is immoral now!?!?  What kind of comment is this?

It's only immoral if you're not IBM or Hitachi ;).

Abrasion, if you're planning on using this drive in a desktop, you're not missing out on much by not having command queuing.

So true. Its interesting to see many readers say "but I multitask so single-user patterns don't apply to me!" The term "single-user" means exactly that. It doesn't matter if you're running multiple video streams while compiling your kernel and running Quake and Unreal at the same time. Such usage is still single-user and features localized patterns much closer to traditional desktop usage than server patterns.

/rant...

Relevance- Abrasion, unless you intend to use the drive in a server environment, the lack of command queuing doesn't matter... as evidenced by the desktop drivemarks.

Regards,

Eugene

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Thanks for the review guys, I'm buying at least one Raptor. :D

On the topic of tagged command queuing,

I use a 60gb 2mb IBM 180GXP and Linux kernel 2.5.65 on a plain old UDMA100 KT133A/vt82c686b Abit KT7A motherboard, and notice great speed improvements when enabling TCQ w/ depth 32. Am I missing something here, doesn't Parallel-ATA support TCQ as well?..

Btw, does Microsoft or IBM supply Windows XP-drivers that enable TCQ?

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all this firmware tweaking makes me wonder what could happen to my X-15 36LP if it was tweaked for single-user performance :D

Or even a 15K.3. This would make an, umm, lovely workstation drive... :)

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Quick, let's all write email messages to Seagate asking them to produce a version of firmware that is optimized for workstation usage. :D I for one would certainly like to see such a beast, though I suspect Seagate may not want to bother.

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Wow, this is a really awesome drive, lets hope it arrives on the market very soon.

to mann: I wonder if hitachi will rate their piece of stinker drives at 6 hours a day if they increase the spindle speeds to 10k. Or maybe they'll just catch fire

(personally bitten by the 75gxp and 60gxp and 120gxp and 180gxp series of paperweights)

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Although the performances leave little to be desired, I'll wait for the second generation of 10Krpm SATA drives. First because I feel SATA implemention still isn't very mature and second because I plan to reduce the noise level of my computer systems over the next year. Buying a drive with a very audible whining doesn't appeal me much. And I don't think it would please my customers either.

But I would like to ear it myself to judge if it really is annoying or not. If it isn't, then I might consider it.

I hope Maxtor plans to launch a reply to this drive soon. Maxtor is usually very good with their first try in a new field. Remember the DiamondMax Plus 2500, Atlas 10K (that was Quantum, whatever) and recently Atlas 15K? As long as they maintain the five years warranty though.

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Thanks for the review guys, I'm buying at least one Raptor.  :D  

On the topic of tagged command queuing,

I use a 60gb 2mb IBM 180GXP and Linux kernel 2.5.65 on a plain old UDMA100 KT133A/vt82c686b Abit KT7A motherboard, and notice great speed improvements when enabling TCQ w/ depth 32. Am I missing something here, doesn't Parallel-ATA support TCQ as well?..

Btw, does Microsoft or IBM supply Windows XP-drivers that enable TCQ?

How are you measuring these performance improvements? And how is the drive being used?

From what I have read there is minimal performance gain in single user environments. Can't find a good source of this right now. Maybe take a look at SR's review of the IBM drive, there might be something there.

For good reading on the topic of implementation, check out this thread.

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Something is fishy here. How can a 10K drive with the same areal density perform better than the best 15K drives such as 15K.3 and Atlas 15K? And it does perform better, according to the SR database, in case you missed it (the review only compares it against the other 10K drives). I'm curious about the reasons. I highly doubt the interface would have anything to do with that.

Leo

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Well, it only performs better in a couple of areas, in the desktop segment. I'd guess that the reason is that it's highly optimised for those aspects of performance (i.e. it uses its speed efficiently). The 15K.3 and Atlas 15K are optimised for server use, and consequently their optimisations may be holding back the 15K drives' desktop performance. They've been fastest in everything by brute force, but now a mechanically slower, but better optimised drive has overtaken them in some desktop measurements.

It comes back to IDE=desktop/single user, SCSI=server/multiple users. Servers have always needed higher speed drives than desktops, but IDE drives can be better optimised for desktop use - close the mechanical speed gap (by going to 10K & swifter actuators) and those optimisations become more important than the SCSI raw speed advantage, for desktop use.

Spod

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Well, it only performs better in a couple of areas, in the desktop segment. I'd guess that the reason is that it's highly optimised for those aspects of performance (i.e. it uses its speed efficiently). The 15K.3 and Atlas 15K are optimised for server use, and consequently their optimisations may be holding back the 15K drives' desktop performance. They've been fastest in everything by brute force, but now a mechanically slower, but better optimised drive has overtaken them in some desktop measurements.

Well, it performs better than 15K drives in two out of four SR benchmarks (High-End and Bootup). I'm especially curious about Bootup, because it features much deeper command queues than any other benchmark (save the server ones), and this is where SCSI is supposed to excel.

So, this might not be so simple as a wave in the desktop/server general direction.

Leo

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Hey eugene, are you gonna sit their and tell me that I am wrong. You'd better rethink that answer buddy! All I am saying is, how is it that their drives perform better than the rest when they are mechanically inferior to IBM for example. Mechanics make the drive go faster not software / firmware. The real thing here is that the drives firmware (on wd drives) always reports better than average results. This is DONE to produce bragging rights. I truely believe that you ALWAYS to fail to mention this LITTLE detail. Why is that? If you think I am Wrong, please give me a TECHNICAL answer as to why WD always just inches by the competition without any real reason.

thx mann

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Hey eugene, are you gonna sit their and tell me that I am wrong.  You'd better rethink that answer buddy! All I am saying is, how is it that their  drives perform better than the rest when they are mechanically inferior to IBM for example.  Mechanics make the drive go faster not software / firmware.  The real thing here is that the drives firmware (on wd drives) always reports better than average results.  This is DONE to produce bragging rights.  I truely believe that you ALWAYS to fail to mention this LITTLE detail.  Why is that? If you think I am Wrong, please give me a TECHNICAL answer as to why WD always just inches by the competition without any real reason.

thx mann

I don't think you comprehend the concept of the "SR testing methodology"

The SR tests are so thorough, across so many different applications the results can not be faked at all, simple as that.

Even if WD put a sticker on the drive ( a red one ) which had "magic go faster sticker" and the results increased according to SR's testing methods, then the odds are 99.9% likely the drive is actually physically faster at how it gets it's job done.

As for firmware not making a drive beat another drive and it all being mechanics - you are truely of the new age school of people who beleive throwing more hardware at a machine is better than optimal coding - :)

Go see what could be acheived with 640k of ram 7years ago, or 64(32!) k of ram on the C64 then come back to me about effecient code not meaning anything.

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Relevance- Abrasion, unless you intend to use the drive in a server environment, the lack of command queuing doesn't matter... as evidenced by the desktop drivemarks.

Regards,

Eugene

But surely it might help a little bit IF it had it right? :)

If that is the case - could it be done via firmware and is it truely SATA compliant WITHOUT it since it's an SATA feature?

I'm just being curious - any idea's?

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