Electronic Design

Western Digital 500Gbyte Caviar SE16 Hard Disk

Western Digital $319 7200rpm Caviar SE16 (see the figure) is a solid performer. Its 300Mbyte/s SATA-2 interface is cutting edge although no drive on the market can keep up with this bandwidth except in bursts. It incorporates a 16Mbyte cache but it does not implement the Native Command Queuing (NCQ) found on some competing drives. This is less of an issue for desktop systems.

The unit has a standard SATA data connector but the unit comes with a special cable called SecureConnect that takes advantage of the wider extended connector on the drive. This provides a sturdier connection to the drive. In theory it is five time stronger unfortunately it is only at one end of the cable.

The drive is very quiet, just the thing for a home media center. Western Digital uses technologies called WhisperDrive and SoftSeek to reduce noise. It is also runs relatively cool so it matches the low power characteristics of the other components in the system. The drive is delivered with Western Digital’s disk management software but this will only be needed if you are installing the drive in an existing system and need to migrate or incorporate the drive with another drive.

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