Today, I got a quick review of a consumer hard drive which has one of the biggest platter, 320GB/platter, around. This could demonstrate pretty well what you will get extra if you choose bigger hard drive instead of smaller & more value one. In this case, you will see the comparison between my previous storage--a pair of Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB SATA as RAID0--and Western Digital Caviar SE16 640GB.
One and two disks in hard drive really do effect how big hard drive is--I wonder how big 1TB (4 disks) would be really.
Actually, I haven't had any clean installation for testing; however, I made sure that two hard drive had the same thing by copying an image from one to another. Fair enough, right? Before getting into benchmark results, as you see the comparison above, I have used 2*160GB as RAID 0 for quite a while. What I expect to get better by replacing with 640GB is less power--that's from 2*12W to only 8W and another thing I hope it's going to be better is CPU utilization. Why? because software RAID 0 I have used needs CPU to process also. Let's see how much we have to waste CPU work on software RAID in shortly.
Right before benchmark, we haven't yet talked why bigger platter in hard drive helps. Imagine that you are on the center of the people circle, one has 16 people around. Another one has 32 people around. When you turn around 360 degree, you will see 16 and 32 people consecutively. No matter how fast you do, you still see the same. Yes, that's the same as hard drive head from both drives. When they read around a disk at the same speed, one with higher capacity per disk always reads more--which means better transfer rate theoretically.
Start at how fast they help Vista boot up. I decided to start from hitting enter from GRUB menu since RAID required a bit more time on POST. This way will eliminate the factor from different controller that might effect the result.
Although RAID 0 is considerably fast, larger platter (more density to disk) could do better in this case. Now it's going to be HDTune time; we might get some more info of the reason underneath.
As you see above, WD 640GB performs really impressive.It's almost the same transfer rate as RAID 0 320GB. What is getting even better is access time which you can see a result in boot time test. In addition, CPU usage decreases 50% from what it has to do on software RAID. Anyway, software RAID 0 still has pretty strong performance as expected--only little transfer rate drop in the end of the test.
If you are looking for a new storage device or finding a replacement from the old one, one big drive may not outperforms dual drives, but for one on one round, it definitely outclasses without doubt and something else around also could be another important factors to consider. Especially, if you do media center box or NAS, this helps you a lot. As always, the problem is choices.