Podcast #366 - MSI 990FXA-Gaming, Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3400, R9 Nano Controversy and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2015 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, msi, 990FXA-Gaming, usb 3.1, corsair, ddr4-3440, amd, r9 nano, Fiji, Fury, western digital, 6tb, Red Pro, Black, asus, ROG Swift, Grado, SR225e, video

PC Perspective Podcast #366 - 09/10/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the MSI 990FXA-Gaming, Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3400, R9 Nano Controversy and more!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malventano

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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction:

It has been a while since we took a look at some hard drives here at PC Perspective. While seemingly everyone is pushing hard into Solid State Storage, those spinning platters have gotten the computer industry by for several decades, and they won't be going away any time soon so long as magnetic domains can store bits for cheaper than electrons can. SSDs have been eating away at the market for OS and single drive mobile needs, but when it comes to bulk storage, nothing beats a great hard drive for the money. Since many users would rather avoid maintaining a large array of drives, getting the capacity of each 3.5" unit higher is still a need, especially for storage hungry consumers. Enterprise units have been pushing into 8TB territory lately, but the consumer sweet spot currently remains at 6TB. Western Digital entered this area in July of last year, pushing their popular Green and Red lines up to 6TB. While the capacity was great, those two lines are mean to be power saving, slower spinning drives. When platter speeds are low, the laws of physics (and of rotational latency) kick in and dictate that they could never perform as well as their 7200 RPM counterparts.

DSC05209.jpg

...and now they have filled that gap, with their Black and Red Pro models now made available in up to 6TB capacities. To clarify the product lines here, the Green and Black products are intended for usage as a single drive, while the Red and Red Pro are meant for operating in NAS devices and use in a RAID. The two drives in this review are the faster spinning models, so we should see better performance all around. Spinning those platters faster means more power drawn and more heat generated by air friction across the platters, as we can look into below:

Specifications:

Western Digital Red Pro 6TB:

  • Model: WD6001FFWX
  • Max Sequential Read: 214 MB/s
  • Form Factor: 3.5”
  • Interface Type: SATA 6.0 Gb/s (SATA 3)
  • UBER: <1 in 1015
  • Power (active/idle/standby): 10.6W/7.4W/1.6W
  • Warranty: 5 years

Western Digital Black 6TB:

  • Model: WD6001FZWX
  • Max Sequential: 218 MB/s
  • Form Factor: 3.5”
  • Interface Type: SATA 6.0 Gb/s (SATA 3)
  • UBER: <1 in 1014
  • Power (active/idle/standby): 10.6W/7.6W/1.6W
  • Warranty: 5 years

For comparison, the slower spinning 6TB Red and Green models run at 5.3W/3.4W/0.4W. Lesson learned - moving from ~5400 RPM to 7200 RPM roughly doubles the power draw of a high capacity 3.5" HDD. Other manufacturers are doing things like hermetically sealing their drives and filling them with Helium, but that is a prohibitively expensive proposition for consumer / small business drives, which is what the Black and Red Pro lines are meant to satisfy. It has also been proven that Helium filled drives are not the best if their track geometry is not optimized as well as it could be.

Western Digital Launches 5TB and 6TB Black and Red Pro

Subject: Storage | August 18, 2015 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Red Pro, hdd, Black, 6tb

It's been a while since Western Digital updated their Black series of HDDs, with their 4TB release taking place over two years ago. I'm happy to say that for those looking for a massive HDD suited for holding that enormous games folder too large to fit on your SSD, your wait is finally over, as today WD has updated the Black line to include 5TB and 6TB capacity units.

WD6001FZWX-2.jpg

The Black series introduced that nifty dual stage actuator technology nearly five years ago, and has added a few more bells and whistles along the way. These new models include a 128MB cache and run on dual-core processors.

Along with that news also comes an update to their Red Pro series, which was also limited to 4TB in capacity when they launched last year. Red Pro models will now also include 5TB and 6TB units, so those wanting the most performance and lowest response time from their NAS can now also enjoy that performance at a 50% gain in capacity.

WD6001FFWX-2.jpg

The new 6TB Red Pro also includes a 128MB cache and can peak at 214MB/sec (at the start of the disk). Also included in these is WD's NASware 3.0 firmware, which is specifically tuned to enable packs of these operating in packs while minimizing the effects of vibration on performance.

20140715-194643.jpg

The 5TB Black comes in at $264 while the 6TB comes in at $294. The Red Pro's come at only an additional $5 over the Black, respectively (small price to pay for better compatibility with larger arrays). Both the Red Pro and Black carry a 5-year warranty.

Press blasts for the 5/6TB Black and Red Pro appear after the break.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital
Tagged: wdc, WD, Red Pro, red, hdd, 6tb, 4TB

Introduction and Specs

Introduction:

*** NOTE ***

In the preparation for this review, we noted abnormal behavior with the 6TB Red. After coordination with Western Digital, they replicated our results and will be issuing a firmware to correct the issue. We are publishing this piece as-is, with caveats added as appropriate. We will revisit this piece with an additional update once we have retested the 6TB Red on the updated firmware / configuration. More information / detail is available in our related news post on this matter.

** Update ** WD corrected early shipments of these drives and we have a full retest of the corrected units posted here.

*** END NOTE ***

Last year we covered the benefits of TLER enabled drives, and the potential for drive errors in a RAID can lead to the potential loss of entire arrays. Western Digital solved this problem by their introduction of the WD Red series. That series was since incrementally updated to include a 4TB capacity, and other Western Digital lines were also scaled up to 4TB capacities.

20140715-195152.jpg

This week the Red line was updated to include both 5TB and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).

Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds - a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.

As a recap of what can potentially happen if you have a large RAID with 'normal' consumer grade HDD's (and by consumer grade I mean those without any form of Time Limited Error Recovery, or TLER for short):

  • Array starts off operating as normal, but drive 3 has a bad sector that cropped up a few months back. This has gone unnoticed because the bad sector was part of a rarely accessed file.
  • During operation, drive 1 encounters a new bad sector.
  • Since drive 1 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 1 and marks it offline.
  • Array is now in degraded status with drive 1 marked as failed.
  • User replaces drive 1. RAID controller initiates rebuild using parity data from the other drives.
  • During rebuild, RAID controller encounters the bad sector on drive 3.
  • Since drive 3 is a consumer drive it goes into a retry loop, repeatedly attempting to read and correct the bad sector.
  • The RAID controller exceeds its timeout threshold waiting on drive 3 and marks it offline.
  • Rebuild fails.
  • Blamo, your data is now (mostly) inaccessible.

I went into much further detail on this back in the intro to the WD 3TB Red piece, but the short of it is that you absolutely should use a HDD intended for RAID when building one.

Continue reading our review of the new WD 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro!!

Western Digital launches 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro - with a configuration issue

Subject: Storage | July 23, 2014 - 10:21 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Red Pro, red, 6tb, 4TB

Western Digital has extended its Red line with 5 and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).

20140715-194643.jpg

Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds - a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.

We typically have our WD reviews post right at the NDA. On this piece, we opted to hold back as we've been working with Western Digital on some abnormal performance results we saw with the 6TB Red. Below are the results seen in Iometer. Note that the 6TB Red failed to demonstrate the expected 'ramp up' seen with other drives. HDDs normally show increased performance as Queue Depth increases. This is because the HDD controller is able to see multiple pending requests and optimize its access pattern. The more commands in the queue (higher QD), the more the HDD can optimize the pattern, and therefore the higher resulting IOPS seen.

iometer-ios-file.png

As you can see above, the 6TB Red appears to behave as if NCQ is disabled. Some might argue (in reviews that have already published) that the drive still performs well, but the plain truth of the matter is that a HDD effectively operating without NCQ removes the drives ability to scale when multiple commands are issued. Any test issuing more than one command simultaneously will see a lesser result as compared to a properly configured drive, so things like streaming multiple videos or several users actively simultaneously accessing a NAS will see a negative impact on performance.

The 4TB Red Pro did not demonstrate the issues noted above, and Western Digital has just issued this statement in response to our feedback. Here it is:

WD has learned that initial production units of WD Red 5* and 6 TB drives perform below our expectations in random-read benchmark tests when measured with specific testing software. We have found a configuration setting to be causing these particular test results, for which we are developing a firmware update to correct the configuration setting. In the intended application -- multi-drive NAS systems -- the drives have performed to our high expectations in WD’s labs and by our system partners; users will experience normal WD Red performance.

WD is committed to providing optimally performing storage products, designed for intended applications, and we will have a firmware update available through the WD Red Product Customer Service support line as it becomes available.

*Limited quantities of 5 TB have shipped with the earlier configuration setting.

We have decided to publish the full article covering both new drives, including the 6TB Red in its (currently shipping) misconfigured form. It will go live once I add the necessary verbiage explaining the misconfiguration seen on the 5TB and 6TB Red. Stay tuned for that piece later tonight (**EDIT** our review is now live **EDIT**), as well as a follow-on piece to be published as soon as we have the updated firmware from Western Digital.

Full press blast on the 6TB Red and 4TB Red Pro appears after the break.