Specs, Testing Methodology and System Setup

This drive adopts some features previously only available in the RE4 and 2TB Caviar Black: 
  • NoTouch™ ramp load technology — Previously called “IntelliPark”.  Drive heads take an ‘exit ramp’ off of the platters instead of landing on the platters when the drive is spun down.  You know how the most damage is done to your engine when you start it on a cold morning?  This means the drive heads do not have to break stiction each and every time the drive spins up.  The heads are able to leave the ramp and float onto the spinning disk.  
  • Native Command Queuing (NCQ) — The drive can reorder groups of reads/writes to minimize overall head movement, and therefore increase effective access time.  Beware – this is only effective with an AHCI-enabled SATA controller. 
  • Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) — Bits are aligned vertically instead of horizontally to get more packed onto each platter.  Think dominoes (the game, not the food).
  • 32MB cache — Up from 16MB on the 300GB VR.  Increased cache helps boost random access performance.  
  • Dual processors — Introduced with the RE4-GP line, the additional core helps the drive keep track of the added cache and increased throughput streaming off of the head pack.
  • RAID-specific time-limited error recovery (TLER) — The drive limits the ‘hang’ experienced on a read error in order to avoid a RAID controller considering the drive dead / offline.
  • Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF™) — I’ve got nothing.  Just kidding.  More on this near the end of the article.
  • Memory path protection — The data path architecture has been modified to prevent silent data corruption along the internal data buses (i.e. parity bits).
While there is added cache and some new bells and whistles to the feature list, the vast majority of specs remain unchanged.  Seek, noise and power ratings remain nearly identical to the previous model.  The physical size remains the same despite the additional platter.  There was one spec that stood out: Load/unload rating has gone from 50,000 to 600,000 cycles, presumably due to advances in the ramp load tech over the past two years.  Remember the ramp concept was a fresh idea with the 300GB VR, but much has changed since then.

Specific to this Review

Back in our Caviar Black WD1002FAEX (6Gb/sec SATA) review, we determined that the current Marvell 6Gb/sec controllers and drivers, while decent, fall a bit short of Intel’s native ICH10 solution.  Any advantage possibly seen by the greater interface throughput was countered by inefficiencies in the Marvell device driver.  Combined with the lack of proper S.M.A.R.T. reporting and other missing features, we will for the moment avoid clouding our HDD results with controllers suffering a 15% drop in write speeds (for some benches).

Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB Review - Can the king return? - Storage 29

Marvell controllers and drivers are not sufficiently refined for comparative HDD testing.

Testing Methods  

Our tests are a good mix of synthetic and real-world benchmarks.  PCMark, IOMeter, HDTach, HDTune, Yapt and our custom File Copy test round out the selection to cover just about all bases.  If you have any questions about our tests just drop into the Storage Forum and we’ll help you out!

Test System Setup 
Hard Drive Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7 920 @ 4 GHZ (HT disabled)
Motherboard Asus P6T
Memory Corsair Dominator 6GB DDR3-1600
Hard Drive G.Skill 32GB SLC SSD
WD VelociRaptor 600GB WD6000HLHX (200GB/platter)
WD VelociRaptor 300GB WD3000GLFS (150GB/platter)
WD Caviar Black WD1002FAEX-00Z3A0 (500GB/platter)
WD Caviar Green WD20EADS-00R6B0 (500GB/platter)
WD RE4-GP WD2002FYPS-01U1B0 (500GB/platter)
WD Caviar Black WD2001FASS-00U0B0 (500GB/platter)
WD RE4 WD2003FYY-01T8B0 (500GB/platter)
Sound Card N/A
Video Card BFG Geforce 8400 GS 512MB PCI
Video Drivers Geforce 181.22
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-650TX
DirectX Version DX9.0c
Operating System Windows XP X64 SP2

  • PCMark05
  • Yapt
  • IOMeter
  • HDTach
  • HDTune 
  • PCPer File Copy Test
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