Western Digital's 6.4G Caviar HDD

Western Digital's Caviar AC 36400
6.4G Ultra Dma/33 Hard Drive

cav-new.jpg (6832 bytes)


When it was first released, the WD Caviar AC36400 set high standards for storage, performance, and reliability. It's large storage capacity of 6.4 GB, the workhorse WD Caviar drive was engineered to handle the most storage-intensive desktop, workstation, multi-media, and internet applications, running Windows 98, Windows 95, Windows 3.x, WIndows NT, OS/2 Warp, Novell NetWare, or Unix operating systems on Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium II, PowerPC, or RISC-based processors.
Does it still set the standards required by today's cutting edge super7 platform machines?  We dropped Western Digitals AC 36400 into a super7 system hosted by Iwill's XA 100 Plus mainboard and put it through it's paces and we'll show you just how the drive faired in just a bit.  But first let's take a look at the platform through the eyes of Western Digital's Engineering and Marketing departments...
cavsmal.gif (1984 bytes)


Recommended Parameters

Cylinders 13328
Heads 15
Sectors/Track 63
Landing Zone 13328
WPC 13328

Physical Specifications

Interface EIDE
Formatted Capacity 1 6448.6 MB
Actuator Type Rotary Voice Coil
Number of Platters 3
Data Surfaces 6
Number of Heads 6
Bytes Per Sector 512
User Sectors Per Drive 12,594,960
Servo Type Embedded
Recording Method GCR 8,9 - PRML
ECC Reed Solomon
Head Park Automatic

Performance Specifications

Average Seek
  • Read
  • Write
 9.5 ms
11.5 ms
Track to Track Seek 2.0 ms
Full Stroke Seek 19 ms
Average Latency 5.5 ms
Rotational Speed 5400 RPM
Data Transfer Rate:
  • Buffer to Host

  • Buffer to Disk
16.6 MB/s (Mode 4 PIO) 2
16.6 MB/s (Mode 2 DMA) 3
33.3 MB/s (Mode 2 Ultra DMA)

68 Mbits/s minimum
131 Mbits/s maximum

Read Cache Adaptive
Write Cache Yes
Buffer 256 KB DRAM
Interleave 1:1
Spindle Start Times
  • From Power-on to Drive Ready
  • From Power-on to Rotational Speed

11s typical, 18s maximum

7s typical, 15s maximum
Start/Stop Cycles 40,000 minimum
Master/Slave support Yes
LBA support Yes
IORDY support Yes
Error Rate
- Non-recoverable
<1 in 10 13 bits read

Environmental Specifications 4


Half sine wave od 3 ms duration, measured without isoltaion


Vibration: Operating
5-20 Hz, 0.037 inches
(double amplitude)
20-300 Hz, 0.75 G
(0 to peak)

5-20 Hz, 0.195 inches
(double amplitude)
20-500 Hz, 4G
(0 to peak)
Operating Temperature
& Humidity:
5 C to 55 C

5-85% RH non-condensing

Thermal Gradient
20 C/hour max
Non-Operating Temperature
& Humidity:
-40 C to 60 C

5-95% RH non-condensing

Thermal Gradient
30 C/hour max
Acoustics: Idle Mode
37 dBA typical 5
Reliability: MTBF
350,000 Hours
AFR: <1.2%

Power Requirements

Voltage 5V 5%, 12V 8%
Spinup 24.35W max
Read/Write/Idle 5.35W
Seek 8.62W
Standby 1.5W
Sleep 1.0W

Physical Dimensions

Height 1.00 inch 0.02
Length 5.75 inch 0.02
Width 4.00 inch 0.02
Weight 1.1 lb (.50 kg) 10%
Warranty Three (3) years.

1. Western Digital defines a megabyte (MB) as 1,000,000 bytes and a gigabyte (GB)
    as 1,000,000,000 bytes.
2. Max PIO burst rate is specified at 16.6 MB/s using the IORDY signal.
3. Max DMA and multi-word DMA burst rate is specified using the DMARQ and DMACK signals.
4. No non-recoverable errors during operating tests or after non-operating tests.
5. Sound power level.

Test scores reflected below are averaged over 3 runs of each test using the following system parameters:


Mainboard Iwill XA 100 Plus
L2 Cache 512KB
Processor(s) AMD K6-2 350MHZ (3.5x100MHz)
Cyrix MII 333 (3.0x83MHz)
Intel P233MMX (3.5x66MHz)
Memory 64MB PC100 (CAS 2)
Corsair CM 654S64-BX2
VGA Card Diamond Viper 550
Operating System Windows 98

  AMD K6-2 350MHz Cyrix MII 333 Intel P233MMX
WinBench 99/Business Disk WinMark 99 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 1280 1220 1230
WinBench 99/Disk Access Time (Milliseconds) 14.4 14.4 14.4
WinBench 99/Disk CPU Utilization (Percent Used) 1.31 1.66 2.98
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/Bus:Overall (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 1280 1220 1230
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:AVS/Express 3.4 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 2320 2310 2310
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:FrontPage 98 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 19900 18500 15700
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:MicroStation SE (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 3140 3140 2960
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:Overall (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 4110 4090 3330
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:Photoshop 4.0 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 3530 3530 3520
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:Premiere 4.2 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 4370 4360 2250
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:Sound Forge 4.0 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 4600 4580 2880
WinBench 99/Disk Playback/HE:Visual C++ 5.0 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 5880 5660 5150
WinBench 99/Disk Transfer Rate:Beginning (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 3910 3830 3840
WinBench 99/Disk Transfer Rate:End (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 3800 3790 3780
WinBench 99/High-End Disk WinMark 99 (Thousand Bytes/Sec) 4110 4090 3330
1. Common test settings: Disk Drive=c:\ Report CPU Utilization=No
2. The transfer rate during this test averaged 1324 thousand bytes per second.
3. The playback directory was c:\~wbdtmp

approved.gif (5878 bytes)

When all is said and done we find that although perfectly acceptable for use with the super7 platform there are better, faster and quieter drives currently available in the same price range.  (See out Quantum Fireball EX review).  The "Caviar" platform has always been a bit on the loud side but this shouldn't detract most users.  


MediaTek All Rights Reserved