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Western Digital SATA 6Gb/sec 1TB Caviar Black (WD1002FAEX) Review

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital
Tagged:

Specs, Testing Methodology and System Setup

Specifications 

This drive adopts some features previously only available in the RE4 and 2TB Caviar Black: 

  • NoTouch™ ramp load technology — Previously called "IntelliPark".  Drive heads take an 'exit ramp' off of the platters instead of landing on the platters when the drive is spun down.  You know how the most damage is done to your engine when you start it on a cold morning?  This means the drive heads do not have to break stiction each and every time the drive spins up.  The heads are able to leave the ramp and float onto the spinning disk.  
  • StableTrac™ — The spindle is supported at both ends instead of only at the bottom, keeping the platters more stable during reads and writes. 

  • Native Command Queuing (NCQ) — The drive can reorder groups of reads/writes to minimize overall head movement, and therefore increase effective access time.  Beware - this is only effective with an AHCI-enabled SATA controller. 

  • Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) — Bits are aligned vertically instead of horizontally to get more packed onto each platter.  Think dominoes (the game, not the food).
  • 64MB cache — Up from 32MB for the other Caviar Black models (save the 2TB model).  Increased cache helps boost random access performance.  
  • Dual processors — Introduced with the RE4-GP line, the additional core helps the drive keep track of the added cache and increased throughput streaming off of the head pack. 

This 1TB model adopts the new Dual Actuator previously only available in the 2TB Caviar Black and RE4 series drives (translated, with pictures): 

  • Dual Actuator Technology — This new head design treats the 'old' electromagnetic actuator as a coarse adjustment, with an added piezoelectric actuator providing fine tuning over an approximate 5 track width.  This also provides nearly instantaneous track-to-track seeks (within the range of the second actuator).
 

 

This engineering marvel should increase seek resolution and open the door for even greater densities in future generation drives. 

  • Anti-disks — Carried from the Caviar Black line to now include the RE4 series, these are uniquely machined static plates mounted between and around each platter.  Their purpose is to optimize airflow along each platter, reducing turbulence and ultimately keeping head flight more consistent.
 

The topmost anti-disk can be seen above.  Note this photo is of an earlier Caviar Black. 

The 1TB we are reviewing today contains 2 500GB platters.

We're hoping to see some good gains in performance with a large 64MB cache, dual CPU's, and the newer SATA 6Gb/sec interface.  There will also be some additional performance seen in the case of the newer Marvell driver, as it caches at the system level.  We're still evaluating the impact of the newer driver.  I would still like to see caching left up to the user (and windows settings) as opposed to having it forced on me by the storage driver.  I'll be putting the drive through our full suite a full 3 times (!).  Once on the Intel ICH10R (SATA 3Gb/sec) controller, and twice on the Marvell, using both the caching and non-caching drivers.

Specific to this Review



We're using this new drive as an opportunity to evaluate real world differences between SATA 3Gb/sec and 6Gb/sec controllers.  We tested under the following combinations:
  • Marvell 9128 (HighPoint Rocket 620LF) with 1.0.0.1027 (caching) driver.
  • Marvell 9123 (Asus U3S6) with 1.0.0.1008 (non-caching) driver.
  • Intel ICH10R (Asus P6T) with 8.9.0.1023 (non-caching) driver.

Asus U3S6 (Left) and HighPoint Rocket 620LF (Right).
Testing Methods  

Our tests are a good mix of synthetic and real-world benchmarks.  PCMark, IOMeter, HDTach, HDTune, Yapt and our custom File Copy test round out the selection to cover just about all bases.  If you have any questions about our tests just drop into the Storage Forum and we'll help you out!

Test System Setup 

  

Hard Drive Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7 920 @ 4 GHZ (HT disabled)
Motherboard Asus P6T
Memory Corsair Dominator 6GB DDR3-1600
Hard Drive G.Skill 32GB SLC SSD

WD Caviar Black WD1002FAEX-00Z3A0 (500GB/platter)

WD Caviar Green WD20EADS-00R6B0 (500GB/platter)

WD RE4-GP WD2002FYPS-01U1B0 (500GB/platter)

WD Caviar Black WD2001FASS-00U0B0 (500GB/platter)

WD RE4 WD2003FYY-01T8B0 (500GB/platter)

WD VelociRaptor 300GB WD3000GLFS

Sound Card N/A
Video Card BFG Geforce 8400 GS 512MB PCI
Video Drivers Geforce 181.22
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-650TX
DirectX Version DX9.0c
Operating System Windows XP X64 SP2

  • PCMark05
  • Yapt
  • IOMeter
  • HDTach
  • HDTune 

  • PCPer File Copy Test

August 26, 2011 | 10:16 PM - Posted by Kelly (not verified)

I find it odd that the author chides Marvell for the interface performance: in effect doubling the Windows O.S. for transference.
I am bewildered he then goes on to say that the 2TB Drives are faster, but perhaps, should be equalled by the WD1002FAEX.

If the Marvel controller were saturating on the Motherboard, it probably would similarly saturate for the 2TB Hard Disks. Assuming that the OEM PC and the Windows O.S. have not changed, this particular difference must lie within the testing of the WD1002FAEX.

[While it is alleged that] Marvell's 88SE9123 or 88SE9128 controllers have not been able to deliver improvements to 3GB/sec as suggested; this is partly and largely due to Marvell's SE91XX drivers having flaws.

January 23, 2012 | 03:25 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Some software requires caching to be disabled. For example, SQL Server. When the driver ignores convention, you have no choice on having a reliable system.

December 20, 2012 | 04:07 PM - Posted by RKF (not verified)

1.5 and 2 TB have a major and minor arm whereas 1 TB has only 1

December 20, 2012 | 04:07 PM - Posted by RKF (not verified)

1.5 and 2 TB have a major and minor arm whereas 1 TB has only 1

April 17, 2013 | 09:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Have had two of these fail - from completely different systems. Steer clear!!

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