July 25th, 2005 by eugene
Today Western Digital announces the Caviar WD4000YR, which joins the Caviar WD2500KS as the second of the firm's native SATA designs. Also dubbed "RE2," or "Raid Edition 2," the 400 GB drive sits along the Raptor WD740GD as a product targeted more towards the enterprise sector, though it will likely interest avid enthusiasts as well. WD claims a more rugged design largely leveraged from the 10,000 RPM Raptor series and equips the drive with a large 16 MB buffer.
The WD4000YR and WD2500KS together present an interesting conundrum. The latter, available for a few months now, claims "SATA II" support- it's maximum SATA transfer rate is 300 MB/sec. It does not, however, support Native Command Queuing. The Caviar RE2, on the other hand, represents WD's first foray into NCQ. It, however, sticks with the original 150 MB/sec maximum transfer rate.
Drives such as Maxtor's MaXLine III and Seagate's Barracuda 7200.8 offer a more robust feature set, offering both the 300 MB/sec maximum transfer rate and NCQ in their drives. WD argues that the increased 300 MB/sec headroom is unnecessary in enterprise-oriented applications. We agree... but 300 MB/sec also doesn't offer much in the enthusiast/desktop sector either.
Remember that figures such as 150 MB/sec or 300 MB/sec refer to the maximum transfer rate allowed through the interface. Actual rates are limited by the platter to buffer transfer rates which currently hover in the mid 60 MB/sec range.
Still, that said, the WD4000YS remains an intriguing product. We'll review it ASAP!