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.

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...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 Releases My Book Pro - up to 12TB of Thunderbolt Connected Storage

Subject: Storage | September 8, 2015 - 03:43 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, thunderbolt, My Book Pro

Western Digital has launched a new Thunderbolt RAID-capable external drive called the My Book Pro:

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The My Book Pro connects a pair of 3, 4, 5, or 6TB HDD's to a host system via either 20 Gbps Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 (at 5 Gbps). The unit comes preconfigured as a RAID-0 to give full capacities of 6, 8, 10, or 12 TB, but can be switched to RAID-1 or JBOD mode upon connection to a host system. Note that RAID-1 (mirroring) will cut the usable capacity in half - limiting to the capacity of a single drive. As seen above, there are also a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the front of the unit for connecting additional devices to the host via the My Book Pro.

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Looking at the rear, we see a pair of Thunderbolt ports (daisy chaining of up to six My Book Pros is supported), as well as a USB 3.0 port.

We are not sure which drives come pre-installed, but the press release clearly states 7200 RPM and since WD just launched a higher capacities of the Red Pro, we'd guess that was their choice here.

Press blast appears after the break.

Western Digital Updates My Cloud OS3, Refreshes My Cloud Mirror

Subject: Storage | September 1, 2015 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, OS3, My Cloud Mirror

A little over a year ago, we took a look at the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror. This was a simple network connected storage device that came with a suite of software and mobile apps to give remote access to the data stored at home.

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Today Western Digital announced a refresh to the My Cloud Mirror. Available for pre-order today and in stores at the end of this month, the new Mirror is essentially just a speed boosted version of the original version (which was no slouch really). Something the added speed may help with is the functionality being added to WD's My Cloud OS software:

OS3.jpg

The new 'OS3' version adds some requested features, such as using the My Cloud as a hub for syncing across multiple systems (similar to Dropbox, but with your own storage being used instead of their servers).

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Another requested feature was the ability to backup and/or offload pictures and videos from mobile devices. This can be done only when connected to WiFi or over cellular data if the user has the GB/month to spare on their data plan.

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Another interesting feature is My Cloud Albums. This feature lets you invite your friends/family to share *their* photos / videos from an event. You send them a link and they can then upload their content directly to your My Cloud via their mobile browser or via the My Cloud app (if they have it installed). This sounds like a great idea for collecting photos taken at group events like birthday parties or weddings.

My Cloud OS3 is slated for a 21 September release. We will take a look another look at its features once released.

Western Digital's full press blast appears after the break.

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

Subject: Storage | August 18, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Western Digital Launches Re+ Datacenter HDD, Bests HGST He6 in Power Consumption

Subject: Storage | March 10, 2015 - 03:44 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, Re+, hdd, 6tb, 5TB

Western Digital has just launched a new entry in their Datacenter Capacity HDD lineup:

WD_Datacenter_PRN Graphic.jpg

The Re+ is based on the Re series of enterprise 3.5" HDDs (first revision reviewed here), but this one reduces the spin speed down from 7200 RPM to 5760 RPM. The HGST Ultrastar He6 is a great power efficient and Helium filled drive, but while that unit spins at 7200 RPM, it's max data rate is only 177 MB/sec. The 6TB WD RE spins at the same speed with a much higher rate of 225 MB/sec, but also draws more power than an He6. By reducing the platter speed, WD was able to bring power consumption into the 4.6-6.2W range with peak transfer rates of 175 MB/sec. The competing He6 draws 5.0-7.0W.

While dialing back the RPM was a simple way to achieve this very low power consumption, the He6 would still have the advantage in seek times (a faster spinning disk means less time waiting for the data to come around to the read head). The seek time argument may be moot given the purpose of these HDDs leans towards cold/warm/archival data storage that is very infrequently and sporadically accessed. Still, it is an interesting point that WD's platter density was so much higher that they could simply slow the RPM and yet maintain throughputs competitive with a faster spinning unit.

In combination with this announcement is the fact that the Re and Se lines (formerly limited to 4TB) are now available in 5TB and 6TB capacities. With the Se moving up to 6TB, we may see a Red Pro in the same capacity in the near future (depending on demand).

More to follow on these at a future date. Full press blast after the break.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Test System Setup

A while ago, in our review of the WD Red 6TB HDD, we noted an issue with the performance of queued commands. This could potentially impact the performance of those drives in multithreaded usage scenarios. While Western Digital acted quickly to get updated drives into the supply chain, some of the first orders might have been shipped unpatched drives. To be clear, an unpatched 5TB or 6TB Red still performs well, just not as well as it *could* perform with the corrected firmware installed.

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We received updated samples from WD, as well as applying a firmware update to the samples used in our original review. We were able to confirm that the update does in fact work, and brings a WD60EFRX-68MYMN0 to the identical and improved performance characteristics of a WD60EFRX-68MYMN1 (note the last digit). In this article we will briefly clarify those performance differences, now that we have data more consistent with the vast majority of 5 and 6TB Reds that are out in the wild.

Test System Setup

We currently employ a pair of testbeds. A newer ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt and an ASUS Z87-PRO. Storage performance variance between both boards has been deemed negligible.

PC Perspective would like to thank ASUS, Corsair, and Kingston for supplying some of the components of our test rigs. 

 
Hard Drive Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-4770K
Motherboard ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/TB / ASUS Z87-PRO
Memory Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR3-2133 CL9
Hard Drive G.Skill 32GB SLC SSD
Sound Card N/A
Video Card Intel® HD Graphics 4600
Video Drivers Intel
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-650TX
Operating System Windows 8.1 X64 (Update 1)
  • PCMark Vantage and 7
  • Yapt
  • IOMeter
  • HDTach *omitted due to incompatibility with >2TB devices*
  • HDTune
  • PCPer File Copy Test

Read on for the updated performance figures of the WD 6TB Red.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

Today I'm going to talk to you about something you might not have thought you needed, but once you realize what this new device can do, you might just want one. Imagine a Western Digital My Cloud, but only smaller, battery powered, and wireless. You could fill it with a bunch of movies, music, and other media for something like an upcoming family road trip. If said device could create its own wireless hotspot, the kids could connect to it via their tablets or other portable devices and watch their movie of choice during the drive. Once you are at your destination and snapping a bunch of photos, it would also be handy if this imaginary device could also mount SD cards for sharing recently taken photos with others on your trip. A bonus might be the ability to store a back-up of those SD cards as they become full, or maybe even empty them for folks without a lot of SD capacity available. As a final bonus, make all of this work in such a way that you could pull off an entire trip with *only* mobile devices and tablets - *without* a PC or a Mac. Think all of that can happen? It can now!:

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Behold the WD My Passport Wireless!

Read on for our full review!

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 - 06:21 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.

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Packaging

Introduction:

Late last year, Western Digital launched their My Cloud series, first with a single-drive My Cloud, and immediately followed up with a beefier small-office product, the 4-drive My Cloud EX4. Then earlier this year, they filled My Cloud gap (so to speak), with a 2-drive variant of the EX4 - the My Cloud EX2. As the EX2 was more of a business type of NAS, it commanded a bit of a price premium as compared to competing 2-bay NAS devices. The logical solution is was for WD to expand the standard My Cloud lineup upward by adding a 2-bay device to their existing consumer line.

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The My Cloud Mirror is very similar to the My Cloud EX2. You get the bulk of the same features as compared with the EX2, but with some of the more workstation / enterprise features removed. Here's a couple of slides to help explain those differences:

EX2vsMirror-1.png

EX2vsMirror-2.png

Packaging:

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Packaging is simple, with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.

Read on for more on Western Digital's new My Cloud Mirror!