Flash back nearly three years ago, around the time StorageReview.com launched. March 1998: Maxtor prepared for the imminent release of its latest DiamondMax, a 4-disk, 2.9 GB/platter drive packed what at the time was a monstrous 11.5 gigs of storage into a single low-profile unit. Maxtor's execution in bringing the highest areal densities to the market was enviable. On the other end of the spectrum sat Western Digital, who's flagship 6.4 gig drive seemed downright paltry. WD eventually released a 2.9 gig/platter disk... several months after Maxtor. It was clear who was leading then.
Times have changed. Though Maxtor (poised to merge with Quantum) is far from the precarious situation that faced (and still faces) Western Digital, today it's the latter that presents the more intriguing drives. WD's 40 gig, 7200RPM WD400BB hit the streets a full quarter before models from the competition arrived. And the 400BB isn't a slouch rushed to the market... it's the heir-apparent to the 7200 RPM Leaderboard throne as IBM Deskstar 75GXPs and Quantum Fireball Plus LMs become increasingly scarce. And how about the drive we're about to examine here? The WD600AB has been available on superstore shelves for several weeks now... the competition, on the other hand, has yet to announce similar units. What makes the 600AB so special?
Well, WD's newest 5400 RPM drive is the first to feature 30 gigs of data on a single platter. In other words, the WD600AB packs ten times as much data on a platter as the DiamondMax 2880 does. Not bad at all for a mere three years of progress. As we journey towards ever-higher densities, it becomes increasingly apparent that massive capacities are required only by niche applications. As a result, this latest Caviar utilizes only 2 platters... a flagship capacity of "just" 60 gigs. For sure, its nothing to sneeze at... but not quite large enough to dethrone the Maxtor DiamondMax 80 as the largest ATA drive around.
Seek times are pretty mundane at 9.5 milliseconds. Buffer size remains at an industry-standard 2 megabytes. A three-year warranty backs the drive.
The 600AB ships exclusively with an ATA-100 interface. Remember, since ATA drives have yet to break sequential transfer rates greater than even 45 MB/sec that ATA-66 (and in many cases, even ATA-33) interfaces will run a drive with optimal performance. Our testbed remains equipped with a Promise Ultra66 controller.