Western Digital has added a new 2TB hard drive to its Caviar desktop family. Unlike the company's two-terabyte Caviar Green, this latest Black spins its 500GB platters at a full 7,200 RPM. A new dual-stage actuator apparently deserves a lot of the credit for getting such high-density platters up to speed. In addition to a mechanical actuator, this tag-team design puts a piezoelectric motor at the end of the drive arm. The motor offers 500 nanometers of fine-tuning—enough to span five tracks on the platter. WD says the ability to do a "short seek" with just the second stage of the actuator improves the drive's performance.
Although it probably won't speed things up in the real world, the new Caviar also sports a beefy 64MB cache. Support for 6Gbps Serial ATA transfer rates is curiously absent, but the omission is not completely unexpected. Obviously, the 2TB Black won't be able to sustain transfer rates higher than its 3Gbps SATA interface can handle. I suspect that Western Digital also wants to ease the validation of the Black's enterprise-oriented cousin, the new RE4 2TB.
Like previous RE remixes, the RE4 is essentially a Caviar Black hopped up on RAID-specific features and additional validation testing. WD says that its new dual-stage actuator is particularly helpful at maintaining performance in high-vibration environments, such as tightly packed arrays, making it potentially even more useful to the RE4.
2TB Caviar Blacks start shipping today, and they're expected to sell for $299. That's quite a bit more than the Caviar Green, which can be had for as little as $215. The RE4 is still being qualified by OEMs; it's expected to be available in the next couple of weeks, but a price hasn't yet been set. Expect a full review of the Caviar Black soon.
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