Western Digital's Raptor - Part I: The World's Fastest Desktop Driveby Anand Lal Shimpi on March 11, 2003 7:46 PM EST
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A Raptor Loose in the Enterprise Market
Along with talking to Western Digital about the technical aspects surrounding the Raptor drive, we also asked about positioning. As we just alluded to, Western Digital is marketing the Raptor as a low-cost 10,000 RPM drive for the enterprise market; in essence, they are going after the SCSI market, something they are able to do because they have no SCSI line to cannibalize by doing this.
Western Digital has no delusions about being the fastest performer at 10,000 RPM, but what they are promising is a much lower total cost of ownership and competitive performance from their Raptor.
The lower total cost of ownership comes from the drive itself, which we already know will be between 20 and 30% cheaper than an identical SCSI drive, but there are a couple of other factors to take into account.
For starters, Serial ATA cabling is significantly cheaper than 68-pin SCSI cabling. Not only is it cheaper though, it is also much better suited to improving cooling within a chassis because of the very thin cables.
Next we have the cost of controller cards; remember that by the end of the first half of this year, Serial ATA will be integrated into all Pentium 4 I/O Controller Hubs (ICH5) courtesy of the 865 and 875 chipsets. That transition will also happen with server specific chipsets, although somewhat later. With integrated Serial ATA, the controller basically comes free of charge, as opposed to the pricey Ultra320 SCSI add-in cards.
The final point is that the cost of RAID will be significantly cheaper with Serial ATA as well, once again going back to the price of the controllers.
We mentioned in the previous section that Western Digital's decision to stick with a 36GB capacity was because of the fact that the majority of 10,000 RPM SCSI drives in use are either 18GB or 36GB in size. Western Digital's research shows that 36GB should be the target capacity for the rest of this year, but as we mentioned before, if there's room for competition with higher capacities then the Raptor will adapt.
You will be able to begin ordering the Raptor drives through resellers (not retail outlets however) in the next week or so.