Subject: Storage

Introduction and Internals

Introduction:

The Western Digital RAID Edition line of hard drives has been around for some time now, and has largely impressed us with each subsequent release. Since the launches of the RE4-GP and later, the faster spinning RE4, WD's enterprise line had been capped at the 2TB mark. Now that has changed with the introduction of a new line: simply named the RE Series:

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Yup, that's right. 4 TeraBytes! With the Green and Red series capped at 3TB, this new RE is the largest capacity drive available from Western Digital. The catch is that, since it's tailored and built for enterprise use, it comes at a rather hefty price premium.

Read on for the full review!

Western Digital launches 4TB RE Series in both SATA and SAS flavors

Subject: Storage | September 27, 2012 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, RE, RAID Edition, raid

Today Western Digital announced a new line of RAID Edition (RE) drives. While the WD RE series is not new, preceded by the RE4-GP and faster spinning RE4, it was certainly overdue for an update.

WD RE 4TB.jpg

This update brings the maximum capacity to 4TB and includes a SAS line as well. SATA connectivity will be 6Gb/sec, while SAS will employ dual port full duplex connectivity for the higher end enterprise sector. These drives appear to use the same platter capacity scheme employed by the recent WD Red Series, though the PR blast states 800GB/platter. I'm awaiting clarification on that point, as the math doesn't seem to work out evenly. Pricing is at a premium for these models, as they are intended for enterprise use. Mid to high $400's for SATA and SAS. Pricey, but still 1/10th of current good deals on SSDs.

Press blast (and detailed pricing) after the break!

HGST Working With Helium To Inflate Hard Drive Capacities

Subject: Storage | September 19, 2012 - 11:27 AM |
Tagged: western digital, WD, patter density, hitachi, hgst, helium, Hard Drive, 6tb

Western Digital-owned Hitachi Global Storage (HGST) recently announced that it is pursuing the mass production of helium-filled hard drives. The culmination of six-plus years of research and development, Hitachi’s engineers have come up with a workable solution to craft a sealed enclosure to contain the helium and internal drive hardware over the long term and in a way that can be mass produced. While the company is not ready to talk specifics or announce individual products, HGST (Western Digital) is going on record in stating that its helium-filled “hard drive platform” will offer up performance, power efficiency, and capacity improvements in a 3.5" form factor (with up to seven platters) sometime in 2013.

helium hard drives.jpg

Don't try this at home folks, it won't actually work :).

The current crop of hard drives have small holes on the top to allow air pressure equalization, as the drives are not a fully-sealed design (and is why dunking them in oil is a bad idea). The proposed helium-filled hard drives would change that design, by being fully sealed from the outside environment after being filled with the noble gas. Steve Campbell, CTO at HGST stated the following in the company's press release:

 “The benefits of operating a HDD with helium fill have been known for a long time. The breakthrough is in the product and process design, which seals the helium inside the HDD enclosure cost effectively in high-volume manufacturing,”

But why exactly is helium better for hard drives? In short, the gas is one-seventh (1/7) as dense as the air around us. This reduction in density allows for the platters to spin faster, or at the same spindle speeds at today's drives while experiencing less resistance and turbulance from versus an air-filled hard drive. Thanks to the reduced drag force, Hitachi can pack the platters closer together, which means that it can place more platters into the 3.5" hard drive form factor than ever before – up to seven with the current design. Further, the motor does not have to work as hard to drive the platters which results in quieter operation and more power savings. HGST also claims that using helium allows for better thermal conductivity, and allows the helium-filled hard drives to run up to 4°C cooler than an equivalently-configured air-equalized drive. Granted, 4°C is not that much of an improvement when looking at a single drive (or even a few in a desktop system), but it can add up to some decent cooling savings when these drives are utilized in datacenters.

Hitachi Global Storage does not yet have any specific products to announce publicly, but the company did offer up a few performance numbers that certainly seem promising – an in line with the company's goal of reducing the "total cost of ownership," or TCO. In addition tot he temperature improvements, the company claims up to 23% power reduction versus air. And when HGST factors in its seven-platter design, they have managed to bring the Watts-per-Terabyte (W/TB) 45% versus current drives. Assuming the helium-aided hard drives use the same (or more) amount of platter area as the company's previous drives, Hitachi/Western Digital could offer up to 7TB hard drives when combined with the company's 1TB per platter areal density improvements.

It has the potential to get even better, however. Should the engineers be able to integrate Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) – similar to what Seagate is pursuing – helium hard drives could offer up approximately 85TB 3.5" drives thanks to the additional two platters. Previously, Seagate envisioned up to 60TB HAMR hard drives in the 3.5" form factor. Those numbers are fairly far off in the future (and theoretical), however. On the other hand, Seagate believes that 6TB HAMR hard drives are reasonably close to public consumption, and if a HAMR drive could also benefit from the extra platters, potential spindle speed improvements, and power savings of using helium, I think 8TB+ is not out of the question while using less power than a traditional air-equalized (not sealed) 6TB HAMR-equipped hard drive.

Extremetech does bring up an interestng point about pricing, though. Mainly that helium is much more expensive than simply using the air around us! And as it is used up, it will only get more expensive, which are likely costs that will be passed onto consumers. Fortunately, it should not be too much of a premium that customers would have to pay (over a traditional hard drive) because a 3.5" hard drive will need only a small amount of the helium gas to realize the benefits, according to PC Perspective's resident storage guru Allyn Malventano.

What do you think about the prospects of a heluim-filled hard drive? Will we see such devices within our lifetimes, and just how much will these things cost? I suppose we'll have to wait until next year to find out!

Source: HGST

Podcast #218 - Gigabyte Z77X-UD7, Apple A6 SoC, Thunderbolt GPU Tech from Lucid, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2012 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: z77x-ud7, z77n-wifi, WD, thunderbolt, SoC, podcast, lucid, idf 2012, Hybrid Drive, haswell, gpu, gigabyte, arm, a6

PC Perspective Podcast #218 - 09/13/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the Gigabyte Z77X-UD7, Apple A6 SoC, Thunderbolt GPU Tech from Lucid, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malvantano and Scott Michaud

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:01:33

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:02:50 Live Recap: Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 & Z77N-Wifi Preview
    2. 0:11:11 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review
    3. 0:16:20 Apple A6 SOC: Cortex A15 Hits the Market
    4. 0:21:30 IDF 2012: Intel Haswell Architecture Revealed
      1. Intel Haswell CPUs as low as 10W TDP
  2. 0:28:05 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:28:45 IDF 2012: Lucid External GPUs?
    2. 0:32:05 IDF 2012: Intel Dives in to Oil!
    3. 0:35:45 IDF 2012: Western Digital Hybrid Hard Drives - 5mm 500GB
    4. 0:38:00 AMD Steamroller -- Shrunk Die Without a Die Shrink?
    5. 0:39:50 Firefox OS Interface: Sept 6, 2012.
    6. 0:42:30 CiiNow Sounds Like Wii... also AMD Investment.
    7. 0:47:15 Valve Big Picture Mode for Steam
  4. Closing:
    1. 0:50:36 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Jeremy: SLI\CrossFire PSU for dirt cheap, NewEgg not quite so good
      2. Josh: Not terrible. Hopefully it actually works for the S3
      3. Allyn: WD MyBook VelociRaptor Duo
      4. Scott: Back to school? For the love of God, laser printers.
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

 

Western Digital Releases 2TB Thunderbolt-connected My Book VelociRaptor Duo

Subject: Storage | August 30, 2012 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: western digital, WD, VelociRaptor, my book, duo

We took a look at the 1TB VelociRaptor back in April. Well now Western Digital went and stuck a pair of them into an oversized My Book chassis, connected it via Thunderbolt, and voala:

vraptor_duo.jpg

This is a nice little external storage device that can be configured as a RAID 0 or 1. My Book Duos can even be daisychained to support RAID 10! Daisychaining allows up to four My Book Duos to be connected simultaneously. The price is a bit steep, but seems to be in-line with other Thunderbolt enabled products. More to follow once we get a sample in for review!

WD Red drives *do* support TLER...

Subject: Storage | August 3, 2012 - 02:25 PM |
Tagged: western digital, WD, TLER, red, raid, hdd

This morning I received a tweet about WD Red drives not supporting Time Limited Error Recovery. TLER is the feature which allows a RAID comprised of Reds to much more gracefully handle drive failures and/or read errors. It's carried down from enterprise drives like the RE4 and RE4-GP.

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I'm posting this quick note here to let the masses know that the Red drives *do* in fact support TLER. It's a primary component of NASware - the NAS aware firmware that drives the Reds. Here's the official reply I received from Western Digital:

WD does enable intelligent error recovery controls, which is not the same as a desktop drive.  WD's exclusive NASware technology is built in each WD Red drive, which reduces the concern with using desktop drives in a RAID environment.
More info on details of NASware can be found here:  http://www.wd.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=810

Western Digital has assured me they are tracking down where the miscommunication occurred.

 

Podcast #209 - Thunderbolt on Windows, Western Digital Red Drives, a passively cooled GTX 680 and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2012 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: WD, ThunderFX, thunderbolt, ssd, red, podcast, Intel, gtx 680, gpu, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #209 - 07/12/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Thunderbolt Performance on Windows, the new Western Digital Red Hard Drives, a passively cooled GTX 680 and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:15:06

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Quakecon - we need Tshirt ideas!!
  6. 00:05:45 Thunderbolt Performance on Windows with ASUS P8Z77-V Premium
  7. 00:17 Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Motherboard Review
  8. 00:18:30 AMD, Vishera and Beyond!
  9. 00:26:45 HP Envy 14 Spectre Review
  10. 00:28:30 Western Digital Red 3TB NAS HDD Review
  11. 00:41:51 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  12. 00:42:45 Passively cooled GTX 680 anyone?
  13. 00:45:45 Windows 8 Pro will run you $39
  14. 00:50:00 Overclocking makes your system less stable...duhhh
  15. 00:57:00 ASUS and Gigabyte raise warranty times
  16. 00:58:30 Mid-range Kepler rumors
  17. 01:03:03 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: ThunderboltEX from ASUS
    2. Jeremy: I like this Lenovo X220 work stuck me with
    3. Josh: Like I need another time sink
    4. Allyn: WD Red
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

​For those of you that prefer the video version, see below:

SSD and HDD Price Analysis: End of Shortage In Sight?

Subject: Storage | December 18, 2011 - 11:20 AM |
Tagged: WD, thailand, ssd, Seagate, hdd, Hard Drive, flooding

The hard drive industry might be recovering more quickly than expected and the entire tech field should be hoping that is the case.  We have been covering the unfortunate disaster in Thailand and the accompanying disruption in the world of storage since things first started hitting the fan in October.  The initial result was a very dramatic price increase on traditional spinning disks - prices going up as much as 200% in some cases.  This week we got our hands on some very interesting data from Dynamite Data, a company focused on channel monitoring, that they were willing to let us share with you.

First, the bad news that we already know about - the price increases we have seen percolate throughout the entire industry in the last two months.

ssd_hddpriceindex.png

Click to Enlarge

This graph shows the average price of the top 50 spinning disk drives over the last year in red and the very specific Western Digital Velociraptor 150GB pricing on Amazon.com in blue.  You can see that around October 16th the big price increase began and over the entire ecommerce span that Dynamite Data monitors, prices on the top 50 HDDs went up by 42%.  And while not shown in the graph, other provided data shows that at its peak the low-cost leaders in the HDD market increased their prices by 150% as of early December.

Why did this happen?  Looking at inventory levels clearly shows the drop in availability.

ssd_hddinventory.png

Click to Enlarge

Based on those same top 50 SKUs, we saw ecommerce inventory drop by 90% in late October (in less than one week!) after the first impact on the supply chain that occurred on October 8th. What is interesting is that it took a week or more for the price changes to take place based on the analysis of the disaster in Thailand.  Much to the dismay of many of the conspiracy theorists out there though this data definitely backs up the price increases from WD, Seagate and others. 

There is an uplifting bit of news in both of the above the graphs though - look towards the end of the time lines of gathered data.  Both show movement in the direction of consumer's interests: a jump in inventory and a drop in average pricing.  WD announced on November 30th that the first of its production facilities was back online and we are already seeing results.  Of course the CEO of Seagate is still claiming that it will take more than a year for the industry to recover but it looks like supply may increase at a quicker rate than initially expected. 

Finally, just for a bit of added bonus coverage, many have wondered if the price increase on traditional spinning drives would affect the pricing of SSDs.  Well, it looks like did at least for a 10 day span.

ssd_priceindex.png

Click to Enlarge

Over the last year prices for solid state drives have dropped by 23% on the top 50 devices available with one minor hiccup.  In a 10 day period between the end of October and early November, there was an SSD price increase that isn't explainable by any kind of inventory changes or supply line changes.  This was likely due to the HDD shortage and vendors looking to maximize profits when consumers didn't have access to the low cost hard drives they were used to.  But because the price increase lasted such a short time I think we can clearly see that customers didn't fall for the ploy and the hiccup was quickly self-corrected.

Even though we have been monitoring prices on our own since the Thailand disaster first occurred, it is great to get some hard data to put alongside our presumptions.  While there is tons of bad news still to digest for at least the first two quarters of 2012, the information provided by Dynamite Data provides some hope that the worst is behind us.  If you are interested in more analysis of this data and you will be at CES in January, you should stop by the Storage Visions conference where there will be a short talk on the topic. 

Western Digital launches Sentinel Series of NAS devices, bringing enterprise features to the small business.

Subject: Storage | November 15, 2011 - 08:08 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, NAS, home, hdd

 Today Western Digital launches their Sentinel line of NAS devices. These Intel Atom powered devices can store up to 12TB when equipped with 3TB drives. The OS of choice is Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, which supports RAID levels 1 and 5, as well as built in backup routines and the ability to configure the devices dual Gigabit ports with Adaptive Fault Tolerance (redundancy).

snap-474-.png

Also available are some interesting yet agressive service options via Western Digital's Guardian Services, which include options for next-day warranty replacement of defective or failed parts, as well as the option to extend the warranty period from three to five years.

Pricing starts at $949.99 for 4TB (3 bay) and $1449.99 for 8TB (4 bay).

Following is the press release, and even more detail and pics should be available from WD themselves once their product link page goes live.

WD® DELIVERS NEW LINE OF NETWORK STORAGE SERVERS FOR SMALL TO MEDIUM BUSINESSES

WD Sentinel™ DX4000 Small Office Storage Server Combines Centralized Storage, Backup-and-Restore Protection for 25 Network Devices and Allows SMBs to Connect, Protect, and Collaborate

IRVINE, Calif. – Nov. 15, 2011 – Western Digital® (NYSE: WDC), the world’s leader in digital storage solutions, is introducing WD Sentinel™ DX4000 (photo), a complete network storage solution designed specifically to meet the demands of today's small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs). WD Sentinel DX4000 includes the Windows® Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials operating system software and the Intel® D525 Dual Core Atom CPU. The WD Sentinel DX4000 is centralized shared storage and automatic server-based backup and restore for up to 25 devices (PC and Mac®) in the network. It offers complete data protection with built-in hardware and software redundancy for all of the connected devices in the network. With capacities including 4 TB and 8 TB, WD Sentinel DX4000 lets small business owners expand small office server storage capacity as their business and storage demands grow. In addition, the WD Sentinel DX4000 small office storage server acts as the “on-premise cloud storage" for the SMB.

“The WD Sentinel small office storage server is the ideal storage, backup, and secure remote access solution for any SMB,” said Thomas Gallivan, vice president of marketing for WD’s SMB Solutions Group.

WD® Introduces New Line of Network Storage Servers for Small to Medium Businesses

“The ability to have centralized storage that is both on-premise and offers secure remote access provides a small business owner and employees the flexibility needed for today’s mobile lifestyle. WD is providing small business owners with a hands-free solution that offers complete data protection and unparalleled peace-of-mind.”

“The requirement for collaboration across multiple devices and locations necessitates the need for a centralized storage solution in today’s SMB environment”, said David Tuhy, General Manager, Intel Data Center and Connected Systems Group. “Intel is working closely with the industry and companies like Western Digital to provide the technology that is at the core of these storage solutions and provide SMBs a platform to manage, organize and secure their data to ensure business continuity.”

“Built on Windows Storage Server, WD Sentinel gives small business customers the storage and file services capabilities of Windows Server, as well as a solution aimed specifically at the SMB segment,” said Thomas Pfenning, general manager, Storage, at Microsoft. “We are pleased to see WD Sentinel serve our mutual customers.”

Whether they’re personal or professional, digital content and important files are invaluable and often irreplaceable if lost or compromised. WD Sentinel small office storage server provides several ways for businesses to protect their information without user intervention. WD Sentinel comes preconfigured with enterprise-class drives, RAID storage protection, built-in server based backup and recovery software, redundant networking ports and a redundant power option. In addition, WD Sentinel offers users the ability to connect to a “public cloud” storage provider, which offers small businesses an economical and integrated disaster recovery solution against earthquake, theft and fire or water damage.

Software included with WD Sentinel provides business owners and their employees the freedom and flexibility to remotely access files and share files with external employees, independent consultants and satellite offices anywhere in the world.

Five Levels of Data Protection

WD Sentinel DX4000 provides five levels of data protection for every device on the small office network and is supported by WD Guardian Services.

WD® Introduces New Line of Network Storage Servers for Small to Medium Businesses

1. The Drives Inside: Pre-configured with WD’s award-winning enterprise-class drives for durability and reliability.

2. RAID: Featuring levels 1 and 5 for data protection and speed.

3. Daily Backup: Automatic backup and recovery software provides daily full system back ups for up to 25 devices on your network. Simply set it and forget it.

4. Redundant Network Connectivity: Dual Gigabit Ethernet configured in Adaptive Fault Tolerance (AFT) automatically switches to second network port in the event of a network failure.

5. Optional Disaster Recovery Protection: Connect to the small business cloud provided by optional disaster recovery software and store your data offsite for disaster recovery.

WD Sentinel is certified to be compatible with a variety of Operating Systems (OS) including Windows XP, Windows Vista®, and Windows 7. In addition, WD Sentinel is compatible with Mac OS X® Leopard® and Snow Leopard® for file sharing among Windows, Mac and Unix/Linux operating systems and allows businesses to share files with clients, consultants, and inter-office personnel regardless of the OS used.

WD Guardian™Services for Small Business

WD Sentinel DX4000 is backed by WD’s world-class customer service and support. All WD Sentinel small business customers will receive free tech support for 30 days from the time of the first call. WD Sentinel customers may wish to upgrade their service plan to one of three options:

1. WD Guardian Express: Offers next-day parts replacement service including shipping and handling costs.

2. WD Guardian Pro: Offers a one year support agreement with WD service, express parts replacement and priority access to technical support.

3. Guardian Extended Care: Service that extends the product warranty from the standard three year warranty to five years.

Western Digital Launches 2.5 TB and 3 TB 3.5" Hard Drives For AV Systems

Subject: Storage | May 21, 2011 - 03:10 AM |
Tagged: WD, TB, Hard Drive

wdfAVGP_64.jpg

Western Digital recently launched two new hard drives for it's AV-GP series. The AV-GP series are WD Green Power hard drives with special firmware optimized for heavy audio/visual applications such as video streaming, surveillance systems, and HD video recorders.  The two new additions to the series come in 2.5 TB and 3 TB respectively.  Both drives are 3.5" form factor, contain 64MB of on-board cache, and utilize the SATA II 3Gb/s interface.  Designed for use in high temperature environments, the drives have a claimed 1 million hour MTBF (mean time before failure) rate and are covered by a three year warranty.  Further, the 2.5 TB and 3 TB drives use the advanced format (4K sector) partitioning, which means that these drives are not well suited as boot drives, especially in the case of many older computers.  The 2.5TB WD25EURS hard drive is available for $159.99 USD while the 3TB WD30EURS variant will cost $179.99 USD.