In the past few months, many ATA drive manufacturers have announced their next generation drives, incorporating new highs in spindle speed and/or areal density. One drive manufacturer conspicuously absent from the fray was Western Digital. Recently, though, the company quietly announced the launch of the newest in the caviar series, the 8.4 gig AC38400.
While other ATA drive manufacturers use up to four platters per drive to maximize offered capacity, Western Digital has religiously stuck with a 3-platter maximum. As a result, their 6.4GB AC36400, the largest WD ATA drive previously available, lagged a bit behind others in capacity. The AC38400 is no exception- it too incorporates 3 platters. 8.4 gigs of storage these days is rather mundane, but distributing it across only 3 disks results in an areal density of 2.8 gigabytes per platter, previously reached only by the Maxtor DiamondMax 2880 and IBMís Deskstar 14/16. Other specifications remain the same: 9.5 millisecond access time, 256k buffer, and 5400rpm spindle speed. WDís standard 3 year warranty protects the drive.
The unit tested here was retail-boxed; such packages of WDís are always a marvel to behold, with handholding-galore everywhere you turn. A very nicely written and illustrated manual guides the user every step of the way. Mounting equipment and overlay/copy software are also included. The drive installed without a hitch.
ZDBopís WinBench 98 along with Adaptecís Threadmark 2.0 were both run on the unit in Windows 95 OSR 2.1 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0 The drive was partitioned into a single volume of maximum size. The average of 5 trials is presented below.