hard drive history

2000: sea change

Western Digital Protege

Photo: Red Hill.

Western Digital Protege

Another late-2000 release, the Protege was Western Digital's second attempt at a budget line, and a notable improvement on the unlovely Spartan. Like the Spartan, the Protege was astonishingly light, less than half the weight of a standard drive; lighter even that the old aluminium-bodied Quantums of sub-500MB days. Having grown used to the reassuring solidity of a more traditional drive, this took some geting used to. (The then-new plastic packaged Pentium III Coppermine and Athlon XP CPUs produced a similar uneasy feeling to begin with.)

Like Seagate but unlike Quantum, WD stuck with the industry-standard 5400 RPM spindle speed for its cheaper line but, just as Seagate did with the U Series drives, allowed the seek time to blow out. The result was big, reasonably cheap drive that was competent enough but distinctly on the sluggish side. There is no particular harm in that if the price is low enough to justify it, but in practice the Protege came in at a few dollars over the price of the noticeably slower Seagate U-10 (which was fair enough) but about $10 dearer than the vastly faster Samsung SpinPoint V2040. The Protege needed to be cheaper than that if it was to sell in decent numbers. After the original samples, we only bought Proteges to cover out of stocks in faster (and quite often cheaper) drives like the Samsungs.

Data rate320 Mbit/secSpin rate5400 RPM
Seek time12.1msBuffer2MB
Platter capacity20GBInterfaceATA-100
WD100EB10GB1 GMR head
WD200EB20GB2 GMR heads**
WD300EB30GB3 GMR heads
WD400EB40GB4 GMR heads*