Western Digital has announced the release of its Thunderbolt enabled My Book VelociRaptor Duo SSD. The external drive will contain two 10,000 RPM Velociraptor HDDs which can be configured as either a JBOD, RAID 0 or RAID 1 array. According to Western Digital, the drive will be able to sustain a maximum transfer rate of up to 400 MB/s, rivaling many SSDs on the market. WD’s new product will be available immediately with an MSRP of $899, and will carry a three year warranty.
Well, talk about an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ scenario, WD has made it a point to emphasize the SSD like transfer rates of their new external drive. And why shouldn’t they – two 10,000 RPM hard drives, each with 1 TB of storage capacity, should actually keep up pretty well with the transfer rate of most SATA 3 SSDs, especially when one considers the high areal density of the drives and their ability to be put into a RAID 0 configuration. It would seem that magnetic platters still have quite a bit of potential left in them and WD is running with that idea by putting their new hard drive based products directly in the spotlight. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new push on the part of WD to re-establish the appeal of mechanical storage in the eyes of power users and the like. If so, having two flagship drives in a striped configuration is definitely a formula for success.
Another interesting aspect about this release is the reliance on the Thunderbolt interface, which has really been making the rounds lately, especially when it comes to high performance external solutions. Indeed, it appears that things are turning out just as Intel said they would, with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt complementing, rather than competing with one another, though it seems the latter is being reserved for higher performing products. And what of eSATA? Well, it looks as though the interface has fulfilled its role as a high performance stopgap solution for external storage and is primed to be supplanted by USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. Considering the oftimes strict length requirements imposed by the SATA standard, it’s good to see alternatives which are a little more robust over distance. However, I have to say, it is nice to get perfectly native performance from an external drive. Ah well, progress can be a harsh mistress. We’ll know soon enough if eSATA stands the test of time.
All in all, it looks like Western Digital is getting back to basics with it’s latest foray into the high performance storage segment. Delivering blazing fast data transfer along with super high capacity storage, WD may have delivered what is, for many users, a close to perfect external solution. Add to that a reasonable (relatively speaking) price, and WD may be able to, in many situations, give the SSD competition a run for their money. Western Digital has brought mechanical storage back with a vengeance, and has proven that their VelociRaptor line can flourish even in the wake of the ever present solid state assault. I guess it’s payback time…..
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