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Revisiting the Caviar WD1000BB and the 'Cuda ATA IV
  October 8, 2001 Author: Eugene Ra  

Western Digital WD1000BB-SE provided by Western Digital Corporation.
See also Seagate Barracuda ATA IV Review
See also Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB Review


Introduction

Why retest the Barracuda ATA IV?

When we initially reviewed Seagate's Barracuda ATA IV we were surprised with the 14.9 millisecond access times that WinBench 99 delivered in light of lower scores reported from a variety of other sites. We combed through these other reviews searching for any mention of Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) but came up empty. As a result, we assumed the drives were reviewed in their default mode. At the time, Seagate also insisted that it did not plan to offer end users a way to toggle factory-set AAM settings but would rather leave the option to its OEMs.

Since then several readers have pointed out that a utility from IBM could be used to disable AAM on the 'Cuda ATA IV (Seagate tells us their own utility is now available through tech support). Doing so brings our measured access times in line with those reported by other sites. Did these sites disable AAM before reporting their results? If so, they didn't report it. Every site in question was based outside North America; perhaps international shipments don't fall under Seagate's new policy of delivering drives with AAM enabled by default. At any rate, it is SR's policy to disable AAM before reporting results. We therefore owe the 'Cuda ATA IV a second look.

Further, disabling AAM on the 'Cuda allows us to scrutinize the effects of a reduction in access time on higher-level benchmarks. SR community members hold measured access times in very high regard- most folks consider a one millisecond reduction quite significant. With today's modern firmware and caching strategies, however, just how much difference does one millisecond make?

Retesting the Barracuda ATA IV allows SR to gauge the effects of a reduction in access times and its impact on high-level performance.

Why retest the Caviar WD1000BB?

Long-time readers may remember that SR wasn't too fond of Western Digital's drives when we launched back in 1998. The performance they delivered simply didn't keep up with the competition. In recent times, however, WD has taken the lead when it comes to both capacity and performance. In the wake of Maxtor's recent acquisition of Quantum's hard disk operations, WD stands as the only major manufacturer concentrating its efforts in the ATA sector. As a result, according to company officials, Western Digital has quite a few interesting and unconventional projects on the table.

To differentiate their offerings from the competition, one of WD's largest OEMs recently requested an ATA drive with an 8-megabyte buffer. The manufacturer responded by retooling its current flagship, the WD1000BB, with an 8-meg cache. Though the WD1000BB-SE primarily caters to OEM needs, some extra units are available directly through the company's online store for $379... an $80 premium over the standard 2-megabyte BB unit.

Aside from its quadrupled buffer, the BB-SE's specs remain similar to the BB. Readers may recall that SR has twice tackled the difference that larger buffer sizes make in the past. The first, involving a pair of Maxtor drives that varied buffer size between 512k and 1024k, proved inconclusive. Our second look contrasted the standard Seagate Cheetah 18LP, equipped with a 1024K buffer, with the 4096K 'A/V' version. Here the Cheetah equipped with the larger cache turned in decidedly better scores. Since then, however, caching strategies, sizes, and SR's own methodologies have evolved considerably. The WD1000BB-SE's 8-meg buffer represents the first increase in ATA buffer sizes since IBM's Deskstar 22GXP and WD's own Expert AC418000 raised the bar to two megabytes nearly three years ago.

Testing the Caviar WD1000BB-SE allows SR to gauge the effects of an increase in buffer size and its impact on high-level performance.

Let's first take a look at the changes these differences deliver from a low-level perspective.


WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

 Testbed II Low-Level MeasurementsDetails... 
Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 12.3|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 13.1|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 13.4|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 13.5|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 13.9|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 14.8|
Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 43800|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 43733|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 42433|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 42200|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 39033|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 38433|
|
Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 27900|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 27800|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 27200|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 27200|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 22900|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 21300|
|

Click here to examine the STR graph for the Caviar WD1000BB-SE

With AAM disabled, the Seagate Barracuda ATA IV delivers a WinBench 99 measured access time of 13.9 milliseconds, down from the 14.8 milliseconds recorded with default AAM settings. Subtracting 4.2 milliseconds to account for the rotational latency of a 7200 RPM drive yields a measured seek time of 9.7 ms- very close to Seagate's claimed 9.5 milliseconds.

As mentioned earlier, SR readers consider a 0.9 ms difference in access time to be significant. The same difference exists between Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus 60 and the category-leading IBM Deskstar 60GXP.

Western Digitial's Caviar WD1000BB-SE turns in a measured access time of 13.5 milliseconds... virtually the same as the standard WD1000BB's 13.4 ms. Subtracting 4.2 milliseconds of latency yields a measured seek time of 9.3 milliseconds, a bit off of WD's 8.9 ms claim.

In theory, changes in access times and/or buffer sizes should yield no significant differences in measured transfer rates. And as expected, the 'Cuda IV with AAM disabled (after all, it's the same physical drive) yields no changes. Ditto for the WD1000BB-SE.

How do these changes translate into Disk WinMark 99 performance?


WB99/Win2k WinMarks

 Testbed II WB99/Win2k WinMarksDetails... 
Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 10900|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 8693|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 8193|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 8127|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 8067|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 7720|
|
Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 25567|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 22533|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 21033|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 20733|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 20500|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 20333|
|

The decreased access times gained from disabling AAM on the Barracuda ATA IV bring it a negligible increase in the Business Disk WinMark 99... 0.7% to be exact. Gains in the High-End Disk WinMark 99 are a bit more significant, though at less than 3% still not a difference one would likely notice.

In contrast, the difference in WinMarks turned in by quadrupling buffer size is immense. The WD1000BB-SE exhibits a 25% improvement over the BB in the Business test! This gain builds upon a drive that was already the ATA category leader in this measure. Put into perspective, the BB-SE's score of 10.9 MB/sec trails only Seagate's 15,000 RPM Cheetah X15-36LP... by a scant 2% margin at that!

Though improvements aren't quite as breathtaking, they're nonetheless significant in the High-End test. Here the BB-SE builds on the standard WD1000BB (again already the ATA leader here) with a 13% gain, landing itself in the midst of today's top SCSI drives.

WinBench 99 under Windows 2000 Professional in KB/sec - Top 10 Drives
Seagate Cheetah X15-36LP (36.7 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 11133 KB/sec|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 10900 KB/sec|
|
IBM Ultrastar 36Z15 (36.7 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 10047 KB/sec|
|
Fujitsu MAM (36 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 9190 KB/sec|
|
Seagate Cheetah 73LP (73.4 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 8840 KB/sec|
|
Quantum Atlas 10k II (36.7 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 8763 KB/sec|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 8693 KB/sec|
|
Seagate Cheetah 36XL (36.7 GB Ultra 160/m SCSI) - 8607 KB/sec|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD800BB (80.0 GB ATA-100) - 8587 KB/sec|
|
Maxtor Atlas 10k III (73 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 8577 KB/sec|
|
Seagate Cheetah X15-36LP (36.7 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 31633 KB/sec|
|
Maxtor Atlas 10k III (73 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 27533 KB/sec|
|
Fujitsu MAM (36 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 26367 KB/sec|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 25567 KB/sec|
|
IBM Ultrastar 36Z15 (36.7 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 25400 KB/sec|
|
Seagate Cheetah 73LP (73.4 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 24600 KB/sec|
|
Fujitsu MAN (36.7 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 23267 KB/sec|
|
Quantum Atlas 10k II (36.7 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 23033 KB/sec|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 22533 KB/sec|
|
Seagate Cheetah X15 (18.4 GB Ultra160/m SCSI) - 22500 KB/sec|
|

Let's turn to our IOMeter Indices.


IOMeter Performance

 Testbed II IOMeter Normalized GraphsDetails... 
Windows 2000 Professional, Unpartitioned
File Server Index
Workstation Index
Database Index
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 153.19|
|
Samsung SpinPoint P20 (40.0 GB ATA-100) - 145.82|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 143.25|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 137.55|
|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 131.73|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 130.07|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 126.56|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 122.15|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 166.59|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 164.13|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 163.90|
|
Samsung SpinPoint P20 (40.0 GB ATA-100) - 162.47|
|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 146.48|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 142.64|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 141.96|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 134.17|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 151.26|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 146.64|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 146.54|
|
Samsung SpinPoint P20 (40.0 GB ATA-100) - 146.32|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 131.62|
|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 130.15|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 127.74|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 122.29|
|

Decreased access times almost always yield greater scores in the IOMeter indices, normalized averages of tests that heavily stress random accesses. The lower access times delivered through disabling AAM accelerate the Barracuda ATA IV's IOMeter indices by 6% in File Server and Workstation patterns and by nearly 8% in the Database pattern. These improvements allow the 'Cuda to best Maxtor's DiamondMax Plus 60 across the board though its scores still don't approach that of IBM's Deskstar 60GXP or even the Caviar WD1000BB.

Speaking of WD drives, the WD1000BB-SE's larger buffer doesn't yield it any increases in our Workstation or Database indices... unsurprising considering IOMeter's more random nature. Interestingly, however, the BB-SE realizes a small 4% gain over the BB in the File Server Index.

Regular SR readers may have noticed that we've been deemphasizing IOMeter's relative weight in rendering comparative judgments, especially in the case of ATA drives. Why the change? Though our most noticeable activities consist of reviews on hard drives, optical drives, and controllers, much research occurs behind the scenes that never makes publication. Recently these studies have turned to the evaluation of more modern and accurate methodologies to compliment SR's "Testbed3," a project that aims to deploy identical test systems for our three separate review categories. Updated hardware, operating systems, benchmarks, and methodologies will accompany Testbed3. Research indicates that for single-user systems, the ancient WinBench 99 may still hold a lot of merit as an accurate barometer of performance. In addition, these studies have turned in some useful prototypes of measures that will be incorporated in our future testbeds. Let's take a look at one of these tests: IPEAK's RankDisk.


IPEAK RankDisk

In 1999, Intel released IPEAK SPT v3.0 (Intel Performance Evaluation and Analysis Kit - Storage Performance Toolkit), a comprehensive suite of software designed to assess the performance of various storage subsystems. As just one of IPEAK's many, varied tools, RankDisk plays back standardized sequences of disk accesses drawn from actual use... not unlike WinBench 99's Disk WinMarks. The Business and High-End Disk WinMarks, after all, are merely the disk accesses generated by the Business and High-End Winstone 99 application-level tests. ZD's Winstones play through actual applications scripted to mimic real use. Though in retrospect WB99 exhibits amazing staying power, it nonetheless suffers from age: WB99's patterns were drawn from an old suite of applications running on an old operating system featuring an old file system.

IPEAK features a tool called WinTrace32, a program that can capture the access pattern of any given real-world application load. The resulting raw trace file may then be examined (using another component, AnalyzeTrace) or be systematically replayed through RankDisk to comparatively evaluate various driver-controller-disk combinations. The combination of WinTrace32 and RankDisk allows SR to custom-create isolated playback patterns from real-world applications.

WinTrace32 requires some intricate OS customization before it can properly trace workloads under the Windows 2000 and Windows XP operating systems. As a result, our initial prototype pattern featured below was drawn from current applications running in Windows NT4 SP6a with the NTFS operating system. This "Typical Use" pattern was captured from an installation occupying about two gigabytes of disk space and represents an actual window of use by yours truly through a variety of light productivity applications. These programs include the various components of Microsoft's Office 2000, Internet Explorer 5.0, a telnet client, an FTP client, ICQ, and a small amount of the first-person shooter Half-Life: Counterstrike. RankDisk presents its results as an average of service times. In this case, "service time" equals the sum of the time required to access the requested data's position and the time it takes to transfer the data. Lower times indicate better performance.

IPEAK RankDisk - "Typical Use" Trace
Average Service Times in milliseconds (lower is better)
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 1.26|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 1.56|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 1.71|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 1.74|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 1.78|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 1.84|

Though these results are drawn from a prototype trace (final traces will feature a more contemporary OS dealing with data spread over a larger capacity), relevant conclusions may nonetheless be made. Disabling AAM allows the 'Cuda IV to realize a small but significant 5% gain in performance. And in the case of the WD1000BB-SE, its quadrupled buffer propels it 21% ahead of the WD1000BB. The BB-SE's placing is so great that it's trails only the latest 15k RPM drives from Seagate and Fujitsu.


Experimental IOMeter Indices

Our File Server, Workstation, and Database IOMeter access patterns play through on all tested drives at queue depths of 1, 4, 16, 64, and 256. To simplify this intimidating benchmark, we introduced the IOMeter indices, a normalized average of results drawn from 16 I/Os, 64 I/Os, and 256 I/Os. Why normalized? Result under a load of 256 I/Os on a given drive are always higher than those drawn under 64 I/Os. Correspondingly, 64 I/O results are always greater than those of 16 I/Os. Normalization simply entails multiplying the lower load scores by a coefficient to bring their weight in line when averaging.

Running some raw trace files through IPEAK's AnalyzeTrace suggests that lower-load results are more relevant to single-user disk performance. As a result, we've normalized and averaged results from 1 I/O, 4 I/O, and 16 I/O loads under an "experimental" index. A full sort of all tested drives may be found here.

 Testbed II IOMeter Normalized Graphs - Experimental IndiciesDetails... 
Windows 2000 Professional, Unpartitioned
File Server Index
Workstation Index
Database Index
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 100.19|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 98.95|
|
Samsung SpinPoint P20 (40.0 GB ATA-100) - 96.98|
|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 96.53|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 95.88|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 94.41|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 91.66|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 85.74|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 114.92|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 114.45|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 113.82|
|
Samsung SpinPoint P20 (40.0 GB ATA-100) - 111.30|
|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 109.56|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 106.75|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 102.49|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 96.36|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE (100 GB ATA-100) - 103.61|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB (100 GB ATA-100) - 103.52|
|
Quantum Fireball Plus AS (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 99.22|
|
IBM Deskstar 60GXP (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 98.42|
|
Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 (60.0 GB ATA-100) - 97.58|
|
Samsung SpinPoint P20 (40.0 GB ATA-100) - 96.85|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) - 95.62|
|
Seagate Barracuda ATA IV (80 GB ATA-100) w/ AAM On - 89.11|
|

An interesting shuffle occurs when sorting today's 7200 RPM ATA drives in these new indices. IBM's Deskstar 60GXP, a drive that manages to wrap up top spots in all our deployed indices, finds itself under assault by the WD1000 series. Differences between the BB-SE and BB here remain consistent with the deployed index: identical performance in Workstation and Database patterns yet a measurable increase in File Server performance.

The Barracuda ATA IV with AAM off exhibits uniform performance improvements under all three new indices. In a notable twist, however, the 'Cuda IV has trouble keeping up with the competition in these experimental averages even with AAM disabled.


Conclusion

In theory, disabling AAM should result in increased seek noise on the Barracuda ATA IV. Through subjective listening, however, we detect no increase in noise. Without AAM, the 'Cuda remains the quietest 7200 RPM drive that SR's ever tested in both idle and seek situations. The WD1000BB-SE's noise is, not unexpectedly, in line with the BB's. Unlike the 'Cuda, it doesn't plumb the absolute depths of today's noise floors. Even so, the drive's overall profile is hardly objectionable when used in our testbed. Remember, this test system's standard cooling incorporates only the CPU fan on the retail 700 MHz Pentium III and a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 235 ATX power supply. It's hardly a system overrun with the latest in exotic and noisy cooling.

Seagate Barracuda ATA IV AAM Conclusion: In the end, disabling AAM results in small performance increases across the breadth of our tests. Despite the improved speed, there's no detectable increase in noise. As a result, performance-minded users may wish to disable AAM to ensure that their 'Cuda delivers its absolute maximum in speed. On the other hand, however, measured increases are indeed small, so those less inclined to fiddle with their drive's settings are hardly missing out on a landmark speed increase.

In the end, does a 0.9 millisecond reduction in access time deliver? It's difficult to say. Results suggest that the difference is minimal. And remember, 0.9 ms is 75% of the reduction in access time achieved by moving from a 7200 RPM to a 10,000 RPM spindle speed. At any rate, these minimal margins shed light on why manufacturers such as Seagate and Maxtor ship disks with AAM enabled. Though the 'Cuda IV doesn't exhibit a difference in noise either way, other drives may noticeably benefit from AAM.

The StorageReview.com Safe Buy Award



Simply put, this designation means we'd purchase this product without regret. Sure, there may be a slightly better, slightly faster, and/or slightly less-expensive model from a competitor, but you can't go wrong with this particular unit. This award is applicable, of course, to all units at the top of their class, but also applies to units that, though not quite best-of-class, provide a strong showing nonetheless. Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB-SE Conclusion: The BB-SE delivers mind-blowing performance increases over what already was a best-of-class drive. It not only achieves 20+% increases in metrics most relevant to single-user machines but it also yields improvements in file server performance, making it a viable option for those building a server on the cheap. Further, experimental IOMeter indices indicate that the WD1000BB-SE tops the IBM Deskstar 60GXP in a benchmark that many readers highly regard.

An increase in buffer size, properly coupled with a well-conceived caching strategy, yields dramatic improvements in performance. Though Western Digital primarily manufactured the BB-SE for an OEM order, it's clear that they're gauging the market for ultra-high-end ATA disks by offering surplus units to end-users. A survey SR recently conducted comes to mind:

StorageReview.com Member Poll Results
  Responses     Question  
  600  
Would you buy an IDE drive that featured a 10,000 RPM spindle speed if it were less costly than a SCSI drive yet more expensive than a 7200 RPM IDE unit?
  Times Chosen     Choice     Popularity Graph  
  114   No
19%
  486   Yes
81%

Want to see more poll results? Click Here!

While the WD1000BB-SE doesn't feature a 10k RPM spindle speed, it's the first product the industry has witnessed in years that dares to break a significant ATA paradigm. Like 10,000 RPM rotation, 8 MB buffers were previously reserved for high-end SCSI units. In fact, the IBM Ultrastar 36Z15, Seagate's Cheetah 73LP, and the original Cheetah X15 all feature just half the cache of the WD1000BB-SE. Performance results suggest that the increased speed delivered by the BB-SE's larger buffer may in fact eclipse the gain that would be realized by cranking the WD1000BB up to 10k operation. Remember, the BB-SE is second only to the X15-36LP in both the Business Disk WinMark 99 and in our prototype RankDisk access pattern. 81% of participating readers say they would purchase a 10,000 RPM ATA drive even at a significant price premium. To us, this suggests that a majority of readers want to purchase an ATA drive that breaks the ranks and elevates performance to a new level. At $379 directly through WD's own online store, the SE commands just a 27% price premium over its $299 little brother. We hope performance-oriented users will demonstrate that there is indeed a market for ultra-high-performance ATA drives!

StorageReview.com Methodology Conclusions: SR continuously strives to research improvements in methodology that may be incorporated into our rigorous, exacting, and controlled standards. As more findings from Intel's IPEAK SPT come to light, it's becoming apparent that we should implement some methodology improvements before the hardware (ATA-133 controllers, serial ATA controllers, Ultra320 SCSI, Socket 478 motherboards with 64-bit, 64 MHz slots, etc.) for Testbed3 is in place. We'll start to roll out these changes in the coming weeks. In the mean time, follow (and participate in!) our Discussion Forum for more information.


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