Western Digital was the first and only company to release a consumer 10,000 RPM HDD. Since the first Raptor release no other company has even attempted to release a drive with a 10K platter speed that included a consumer SATA interface. The Raptor Series brought the 10K enterprise standard to consumer levels with the need of using a SAS controller and SAS interface. Until the introduction of solid state drives (SSDs) the enthusiasts standard was fairly clear; if you didn't have a Raptor, VelociRaptor or any number of RAID configurations using a minimum of two of these drives, you couldn't really consider yourself a power user.
SSDs clouded the window a bit and for the first time Western Digital had competition in the enthusiast HDD market. The VelociRaptor did have two key advantages that kept the first VelociRaptor in good graces of enthusiasts, price and capacity. With new SSD technology displacing previous generation technology in the 400 USD price range, the older Indilinx Barefoot tech is now reaching the 300 USD range for 128GB of capacity. The VelociRaptor has already dipped 100 USD from its introductory price of 300 USD making a 300GB WD VelociRaptor SATA-II 200 USD.
On the capacity front we have already reviewed drives with 512GB of capacity, quite a bit more than the first 300GB VelociRaptor, but of course the cost was more than what six 300GB VelociRaptors would be. It was still a contributing reason why Western Digital should take a good look at the series and either kill it or update it with a new product line as quickly as possible.
Given that it is now April, quick wasn't really on Western Digital's deck since we have been hearing rumors of a new VelociRaptor since CES back in January. Looking at how the market has changed since that time, it is easy to dissect why. SATA 6G has had a few ups and downs with Marvell slow to act on driver issues that affect performance. Getting in a good test with SATA 6G and an existing drive, the Caviar Black 1GB with SATA 6G was the next logical step and would have moved a new VelociRaptor back. Western Digital has also spent a great deal of time working on a solid state drive product line and we have already seen the first fruit fall from the WD SSD tree last month.
The good news is that the wait is now over and Western Digital has just announced / started shipping a new higher capacity, feature rich VelociRaptor that promises to usher in a new level of performance that will bridge the gap between low cost platter based drives with massive capacity and higher priced SSDs with minimal capacity.
Let's take a look at the specs for the new 450 and 600GB VelociRaptor featuring SATA 6G connectivity.