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.

Breeding a Raptor The Test


View All Comments

  • rhinofishing1 - Monday, November 17, 2003 - link

    I have a AOpen AX4SPE-Max Motherboard which has SATA and Raid support. I was thinking about getting 2 of these drives and setting them at Raid 0 for my system drive. I plan on doing a lot of video editing and using a 200GB drive for my A/V content on a regular IDE master channel. Do you see any problems, or have any suggestions with my setup? Thanks in advance... Reply
  • FASE77 - Sunday, November 2, 2003 - link


    I have a WD800JB and WD1200JB, i'm really glad to see the WD1200JB performing too well in the test, the only thing I don’t like about the drive is that it has no heat sensor! unlike my older Seagate Barracuda drive (ST360021A).

    I really hope Western Digital will start embedding heat sensors into their drives soon.
  • mrHand - Thursday, October 30, 2003 - link

    Re: Post on Aug 3, 2003: I have never had a Western Digital drive lose a single bit of my data. Other manufacturers, yes, but not this one.

    I have a WDC1600JB that walks all over this SATA drive (I bought one and tried it out). Anybody had a different experience? It could be a BIOS setting...
  • mrHand - Thursday, October 30, 2003 - link

  • Anonymous User - Monday, August 25, 2003 - link

    Please compare Raptor single drive performance with two Raptors in a Raid 0 configuration. Please compare also with two PATA drives in Raid 0 configuration.

    Is there a problem with excessive heat being generated by these units.

  • Anonymous User - Sunday, August 3, 2003 - link

    But how is the reliablilty going to be, maybe its just me but western digital drives are notorious for being unreliable Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, August 2, 2003 - link

    I have a question about write caches: I have read that many SCSI drives do not by default enable their write caches (enterprise may want safety over performance). Are the two 10K SCSI drives in this article run with their write caches enabled to make the comparison more fair? Given the dramatic increase in the SATA drive's performance with write caching, it could be a significant factor.

    Another comment: WD's drives looks more like the next generation high performance desktop drive, not a low-cost enterprise alternative to SCSI. Perhaps the follow up benchmarks (4 months in the making?) will shed light on this.

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