Hard disks are continuing to get bigger and faster thanks to perpendicular recording, larger cache sizes, SATA-II interface and faster rotation speeds of the platters. Hard disks by no stretch of the imagination are one of the most important parts of the PC. Having a 4GHz CPU with 8GB RAM and quad graphics cards is nice, but if the HDD you have isn't fast or reliable you're going to be waiting quite a while for your OS to load and apps to run.
So far we have had a look at a few of the new technologies that hard disks are taking advantage of, this including Native Command Queuing to allow faster access to files by retrieving the bits in an out of order fashion, similar to how CPU's can do instructions out of order. This speeds up access rather than having to do multiple passes to get the bits in order on the platter, it can get it in a spiral motion to reduce access times.
RAID has become the big thing now in terms of speed and security. RAID first came to the desktop market by hacking the drivers and BIOS of Highpoint IDE controller chips that were originally put on some boards back when Slot 1 was the only CPU to use. These chips not only allowed for UDMA-66 on the motherboard for the first time, but also with a resistor soldered on the board and a BIOS update to the IDE controller, having desktop drives in RAID was the in thing. Since then we have seen plenty of IDE RAID controllers, SATA RAID controllers and even the Intel, VIA, SiS and NVIDIA integrated SATA controllers supporting RAID functions. The question is, which drives to get?
Today we are looking at Western Digital's top end SATA hard disk designed specifically for RAID environments. Using Enterprise class components these drives are built to last. The specific model we have on the chopping block today is the Western Digital RE2 750GB Hard Disk.