Western Digital was founded in 1970 and began designing and manufacturing hard drives in 1988. The company is headquartered in Lake Forest, California, and employs approximately 23,000 people worldwide. Their innovative manufacturing facilities are located in Malaysia, California, and Thailand with research and design facilities in California. Western Digital has long been a leader in the ATA market. They were the first to adopt an eight megabyte drive buffer, first to reach 200GB drive size, and they are the only supplier offering a 10,000 RPM SATA drive with the class leading Raptor series.

Western Digital has recently updated their RE product line with the availability of the YD series of drives that feature a 16MB drive buffer, native 3Gb/s SATA support, and 7200 RPM spindle speeds. The YD series is available in 250GB and 160GB capacities and supplements the SD, SB, and YS product lineup. The SD series features 1.5Gb/s SATA support, 8MB drive buffer, and 7200 RPM spindle speeds with capacities ranging from 160GB to 320GB. The SB product is designed around an ATA 100MB/s interface, 8MB drive cache, 7200 RPM spindle speed and also comes in capacities ranging from 160GB to 320GB. The just released YS series features 3Gb/s SATA support, 16MB drive buffer, NCQ, and 7200 RPM spindle speeds with capacities ranging from 160GB to 500GB.

We consider the RE series to be the "budget" offerings from Western Digital in their nearline enterprise storage sector with the RE2 and Raptor series being slotted in the premium product range. The main differences between the RE and RE2 product lines are in capacities, mean time between failure (MTBF) rates, Native Command Queuing (NCQ, now available on the YS), Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF) system, and component design choices. What this means is the RE2 product line is available in capacities up to 500GB, features a 1.2m MTBF rate compared to 1m for the RE series, available NCQ support, includes advanced anti-vibration logic for rack-mount servers (RAFF), and design aspects are based upon the Raptor series of products instead of the Caviar SE series.

Both product families feature five-year warranties, 24x7 100% duty cycle range, and Time Limited Error Recovery (TLER). TLER is a feature first introduced by Western Digital that reduces drive fallout by improving upon the communication coordination between the RAID controller and drive in handling drive errors. However, since the RE/RE2 drives expect to be connected to a RAID controller and handle error-recovery differently than the SE desktop product range, WD highly recommends against using these drives on the desktop.

Based upon the excellent performance of the RE2 drive series in the enthusiast market and the fact we have not experienced any direct issues with TLER enabled on the general desktop (although the possibility exists), we thought it might be interesting to see how these drives perform with our desktop benchmark suite. We should also note that the RE/RE2 drives carry a minimal cost penalty compared to their desktop counterparts. Whether this price difference justifies a purchase is up to the individual but the additional two year warranty, 24/7 operation rating, improved electronics, and other performance features of the RE/RE2 product seem to justify the cost in our opinion.

While our review today will concentrate on the desktop performance of the WD2500YD against the larger and more expensive RE2 drives we will be comparing this drive to its main competitors in the nearline enterprise storage sector, the Seagate NL35.1/NL35.2, new Western Digital YS family, and Maxtor MaXLine Pro series, in an upcoming article that will concentrate on RAID 0+1, 1, and 5 performance along with additional multi-tasking benchmarks. We have also just received additional Western Digital SE16, Western Digital RE16 YS, Seagate 7200.10, and revised Hitachi drives so our next desktop roundup will feature direct comparisons between the nearline enterprise and desktop products.

Let's see how this RE16 drive performs against the RE2 and Raptor based drives.

Feature Set and Hardware Testbed
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  • driveguy - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link

    I do not understand why the YD family was reviewed so late in it's life.

    The YS familily has been introduced from 160-500GB on a common platform.

    It would make much more sense to review the current product.
  • Gary Key - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link


    I do not understand why the YD family was reviewed so late in it's life.

    We reviewed the recent product life update to the YD family that changed it to the RE16 family with 16MB cache and 3GB/s SATA support. The YS family (160GB~320GB range) just started shipping in volume earlier this month and samples are arriving shortly in the 160GB and 250GB sizes. We received the 320GB YS today that will be tested against the other 320GB drives from Western Digital and Seagate in the near future. Thank you for the comments.
  • driveguy - Tuesday, June 27, 2006 - link

    Hi Gary,

    Thank you for your response.

    YS goes from 160GB to 500GB. The real attraction for the RE products is reliability more than performance. This is really not something you can review because you will not have access to field failure rates but these drives have done quite well in high duty cycle envirements. They have crushed STX NL models in the market with the absolute lion's share of this market.
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, June 28, 2006 - link


    I could have been a little clearer in my 160GB~320GB statement, my point was those drive sizes just started shipping in volume this month. The 400GB and 500GB drives were shipping in May although we have not received the 400GB sample yet. I think with the YS series WD has brought the nearline performance up to and at times exceeding the SE16 line now. I think it will be interesting comparing the NL35.2 to the WD YS series since both are new product releases. We are implementing a 16 drive RAID chassis for enterprise/benchmark testing shortly so we should be able to look at some failure rate information this time next year in this market segment.

  • Squidward - Monday, June 26, 2006 - link

    By looking at this article and others I've seen the Raptor is hands down the best drive you can get without going into SCSI drives. How does that apply to real usage, is the difference that notable versus the other drives in this article? I've been considering buying one if the difference is truly noticable, particularly as it applies to game loading times and recording tv programs.
  • tallman45 - Saturday, June 24, 2006 - link

    Nice job as always with the review.

    A more valuable comparison IMHO though would have been like cost competitors such as the new 74GB 16mb cache Raptor and the 7200.10 320gb Seagate. It stands to reason that a $300 150GB Raptor had better outperform a $90 250gb YD
  • Gary Key - Saturday, June 24, 2006 - link


    We have the new 74GB 16MB cache Raptor arriving in about 10 days. We have completed our testing on the Seagate 320GB 7200.10 and are in the process of completing several other 200GB~320GB drives for a desktop roundup shortly in what we believe is the best price to performance range at this time. Our 500GB roundup and PVR article will be available in late July. As stated in the article we will also do a separate review on RAID performance with both nearline enterprise and desktop drives in the near future. The process of adding additional multi-tasking benchmarks along with doing both hardware (Areca) RAID and soft (nF500) RAID is painstakingly slow. ;->
    The other process we have setup is an additional test bench that is currently running previously reviewed drives 24/7 with varying stress tests so we can start reporting on reliability and doing a quick follow-up on the drives performance every few months. In about two weeks, you should start seeing storage articles from us about every 10 days.

    Thank you for the comments.
  • Gary Key - Saturday, June 24, 2006 - link

    Where is the edit button? :) I meant to end my reply with "storage reviews from us about every 10 days or less."
  • dhei - Saturday, June 24, 2006 - link

    150gig raptor is around $200 now...
  • dhei - Saturday, June 24, 2006 - link

    forgot to add the 75gig Raptor is only $130. In terms of pure performance most people would go for the little premium in price for Raptor than more hd space. They just get a 200+gig drive for backup and install main apps on raptor.

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