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Modding A Barracuda 7200.11 Into A VelociRaptor Rev. 1.2
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How Would It Looks Like For The Barracuda?

Unfortunately, we do not have the platter transfer profile of the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, so we will have to extrapolate the Samsung Spinpoint F1's platter profile to create the Barracuda's possible platter profile in the first 300 GB. Take a look :

Theoretically, the Barracuda 7200.11 would have a flatter (better) profile than the Spinpoint F1 due to its higher areal density, but even if we merely extrapolate the Barracuda's platter profile from the Spinpoint F1's profile, it is readily apparent that the first 300 GB of the Barracuda 7200.11 would easily beat the VelociRaptor at pure transfer rates.



The TechwareLabs guys did a great job of dispelling the myth that the VelociRaptor is the king of transfer rates. That may have been the case in the past, but as areal density increases, it is easy for 3.5" hard disk drives to rapidly improve their platter transfer rates. Thus, it isn't surprising to see standard 7,200 RPM hard disk drives beat the VelociRaptor in the first 300 GB.

However, the Western Digital VelociRaptor's main advantage is not its high transfer rate, but rather its very fast seek time. It allows the VelociRaptor to trash the 7,200 RPM desktop drives in random accesses even as it loses out to them in sequential transfer rates. That's why Western Digital is marketing the VelociRaptor as an enterprise-grade drive. Desktop users, whose usage patterns run more in the line of sequential accesses, would do better with desktop hard disk drives with high areal densities.

Unfortunately, we have to point out that the TechwareLabs mod is well, quite pointless. It is not a mod per se because the drive's transfer rate after the "mod" is no different from what you would experience without the mod. Nothing has actually changed physically. All the mod does is limit you to the first (and fastest) 300 GB of your massive 1.5 TB hard disk drive. Their benchmark results merely reflect a narrowed focus on the outermost tracks of the drive.

There is, however, a benefit to limiting access to only the outer tracks. It forces the drive's read/write heads to stay within a very narrow range. This "short-stroking" effect reduces the drive's average seek time, even without an increase in spindle speed. It brings the Barracuda 7200.11 closer to the VelociRaptor in seek time, albeit the VelociRaptor will still be significantly faster in this aspect.

With that said, the same effect can be achieved by partitioning the drive and using the faster first partition for disk-intensive applications (page file, operating system, applications, work files) while reserving the remaining space for less important media files and archives. Doing so indirectly keeps the drive heads over the outer tracks most of the time, reducing the average seek time, but this time without losing any storage space.

So, don't cripple your hard disk drive using the "LBA mod" when you can achieve the same effect by partitioning the drive. If you want faster transfer rates and lower seek times for your operating system and applications, just partition off the outer tracks of your hard disk drive. The first partition of a hard disk drive will always contain the outermost tracks. Install your operating system and applications in this partition, and they will always remain on the outer (faster) tracks. It would also be a very good idea to install your page file in this faster partition.

You can then use the remaining space to store less performance-critical data. There's no need to throw away all that storage space just to create the illusion that you have a 300 GB hard disk drive that is faster and cheaper than the VelociRaptor. See? You can have your cake AND eat it too!

Note to the all-knowing pundit : We are fully aware that there is nothing special about partitioning a hard disk drive. Heck, we have been advocating the partitioning of the hard disk drive to take advantage of the faster outer tracks since we wrote the Virtual Memory Optimization Guide back in 1999! We are merely advising our readers that the time-tested method of partitioning the hard disk drive is a far better solution than "modding" it the TechwareLabs way. For more information about short stroking your hard disk drive, please read The Hard Disk Drive Short Stroke Guide.


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Modding A Barracuda 7200.11 Into A VelociRaptor
Doing It Without Losing 1.2 TB


How Does It Work?
What Did TechwareLabs Do?


How Would It Look Like For The Barracuda?


Questions & Comments

If you have a question or comment on this editorial, please feel free to post them here!

Date Revision Revision History



Initial Release.



Updated the article, listing the steps taken by TechwareLabs.
Update the results discussion with additional commentary.
Updated the conclusion, clarifying the partitioning solution for the all-knowing pundit.



Updated the article with a note on Seagate's support for TechwareLabs' modding method.
Also updated the article with a link to The Hard Disk Drive Short Stroke Guide.

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