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Western Digital Raptor WD740GD Hard Drive Review

By: Steve Dougherty | HDDs in Storage | Posted: Mar 9, 2004 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Manufacturer: Western Digital



Interface: - ESATA


Rotation speed: - 10,000 RPM


Buffer size: - 8MB


Formatted Capacity: - 74,356 MB


Number of platters: - 2


Number of Heads (Physical): - 2


Bytes per sector: - 512


Average Read Seek - 4.5ms


Track-to-Track Seek - 0.7ms (avg)


Overview of Features


When comparing the specifications of the new drive and its smaller brother, we see a few differences. Aside from the obvious increase in storage capacity, the seek timings of the new drive are slightly better with the average read seek time reduced to 4.5ms. That's quite a significant speed boost over the original Raptor, 0.7ms faster in fact.


Second of all, the WD740GD houses two platters as opposed to the single platter on the previous drive. The fact that its storage capacity is twice as large explains this obvious change. The platters themselves on the new drive also feature a slightly higher bit density which in turn helps to result in higher read speeds.



Another noteworthy change is the implementation of a fluid bearing motor over that of the ball bearing one used in the original WD360GD. This would undoubtedly play a role in how quiet the drive operates as it helps to alleviate vibration along with the high pitched whining noise heard with many ball bearing hard drives on the market, this being merely due to metal-against-metal. Obviously the fluid bearing design separates the direct contact which one would assume dampens down what would normally have been a major cause of these issues.


Finally, as was pointed out earlier, we see the inclusion of Command Queuing. A feature previously seen only across the SCSI range of hard drives but is new territory for the IDE/ATA sector. It should also be mentioned that WD allow this feature to be utilized only through its firmware (in other words, software), as opposed to the feature on many SCSI drives being controlled via a dedicated hardware implementation. How this would affect the drive's ability in this area is not currently known, but at the end of the day, the feature is resident on this drive and it works in exactly the same manner.



Looking at the back of the drive, we still see the 4-pin molex connector there, which tells the same story the original Raptor did. The drive isn't natively a SATA disk. Why? Well for one, a native SATA drive only allows power connectivity via its unique lower power consuming 15-pin connection.



Secondly, if you turn the drive upside down and take a look at the PCB, you'll still spot the same implementation of Marvell's 88i8030 SATA to PATA Bridge used with the first-gen Raptor. What is it? Basically it is there to interface PATA to SATA, essentially meaning that the drive itself is based around PATA technology. This is nothing to be alarmed about though because with current drive technology being performance-limited by other factors (platter speeds, firmware, and mechanical design), even a traditional ATA100 PATA interface isn't utilized to the fullest of its potential. Thus, performance of the drive isn't influenced by the method in which it talks to the controller, but rather the design of the drive itself.


Now let's move on to the section you've all been waiting for, benchmarks!


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