Western Digital kicks butt

By Rob Enderle  |  Posted 2004-04-16 Print this article Print

Why Western Digital Kicks Butt. What makes Western Digitals Raptor drives so fast is a combination of speed—10,000 rpm—cache and unique technology. This line, currently in 74 and 36GB sizes, spec with an access time of 4.5 ms, which, typically, using workstation benchmarks, toasts comparable SCSI 10,000 rpm products. It has a whopping 8MB buffer and a unique technology that actually monitors vibration and adjusts the drive to minimize it. This last is important in RAID configurations, which are standard in servers and becoming more and more common in desktop systems. The parts cost is around $100 for the 36GB drive and about $200 for the 72GB drive, which is very aggressive for a drive in this class. Currently, if you are buying a performance PC, this is the drive to specify, and it is common to see it in benchmark systems from Intel Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. It is simply the fastest desktop drive on the market today, by a considerable margin. Hitachi Isnt There Yet. The Hitachi 10,000 products, right now, are still SCSI. They can match on rpm and are just slightly slower on access times, but the Raptors are still faster. Hitachi does, however, have 15,000 rpm products that are faster. Unfortunately, they cost $485 for 74MB, which is way too much for desktop use. This means that Hitachi has the capability to compete here as well and clearly is executing on a low-margin market-share growth strategy overall, meaning the company is looking at every hard drive vendor as an opportunity to take share.
Currently Hitachi Ultrastar 10,000 SCSI products are still based on the old IBM pricing and are priced at a premium over Western Digitals SATA offerings. Its nearly a 2x premium, which makes the Western Digital drive a bargain. However, as we have seen in the other segments, Hitachi will probably adjust prices down sharply as the company brings its own high-performance SATA drives to market, and then well have a race. For now, Western Digital is chewing up Hitachi on both price and performance, but I doubt its resting easy knowing that Hitachi is coming with a vengeance.
Next page: How the fights shaping up.

Rob Enderle Rob Enderle Enderle Group 389 Photinia Lane San Jose, CA 95127

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