CES 2014: PEPCOM Tidbits: Western Digital and Linksys

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2014 - 01:20 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, router, linksys, CES 2014, CES, 802.11ac

Western Digital:

Last night at the PEPCOM Digital Experience, we swung by Western Digital's booth. While there are no new launches at CES, it's always nice to see the full spread all laid out on display:

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4TB Green and Black, 1TB Blue, Ultra Slim drives, and of course the Black2.

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The other table shifts to backup and external storage, scaling up through the My Cloud to the larger EX4.

Linksys:

My eye was also caught by the behemoth of a router that is the Linksys WRT1900AC!

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This beast is way more than an evolution on the old WRT54G. While there are four antennas, the dual band Marvell radios are only 3x3 capable. They can, however, choose among the four antennas to achieve the best possible throughput. The '1900' rating comes from 1300Mbps (5GHz) + 600Mbps (2.4GHz). This router will be Open-WRT capable out of the box, so you can expect the folks like DD-WRT and Tomato to have usable firmware built very shortly after launch, which is expected sometime around April of this year. Let's check out the ports:

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Not only is there USB3, but we also have eSATA for even faster connectivity. Throughput to connected storage should be stellar as the on-board CPU will be a 1.2 GHz dual core ARM. Radios and CPU will be cooled by a built-in fan, and Linksys also noted they will be launching an 8 port Gigabit switch in a matching (and stackable) form factor. Open source firmware buff tech note: 128MB Flash, 256MB RAM. MSRP: $299.

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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction:

If you're into the laptop storage upgrade scene, you hear the same sort of arguments all the time. "Do I go with a HDD for a large capacity and low cost/GB, but suffer performance"? "I want an SSD, but can't afford the capacity I need"! The ideal for this scenario is to combine both - go with a small capacity SSD for your operating system and apps, while going with a larger HDD for bulk storage at a lower cost/GB. The catch here is that most mobile platforms only come with a single 2.5" 9.5mm storage bay, and you just can't physically fit a full SSD and a full HDD into that space, can you? Well today Western Digital has answered that challenge with the Black2 Dual Drive:

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Yup, we're not kidding. This is a 120GB SSD *and* a 1TB HDD in a single package. Not a hybrid. Two drives, and it's nothing short of a work of art.

Continue reading our review of the Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive!!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Features

Introduction:

Today Western Digital launched an important addition to their Personal Cloud Storage NAS family - the My Cloud EX4:

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The My Cloud EX4 is Western Digital's answer to the increased demand for larger personal storage devices. When folks look for places to consolidate all of their bulk files, media, system backups, etc, they tend to extend past what is possible with a single hard drive. Here is Western Digital's projection on where personal storage is headed:

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Where the My Cloud was a single drive solution, the My Cloud EX4 extends that capability to span up to four 3.5" drives. When it comes to devices that span across several drives, the number 4 is a bit of a sweet spot, as it enables several RAID configurations:

WD EX4-RAID options.png

Everything but online capacity expansion (where the user can swap drives one at a time to a larger capacitiy) is suppoted. While WD has stated that feature will be available in a future update, I find it a bit risky to intentionally and repeatedly fail an array by pulling drives and forcing rebuilds. It just makes more sense to back up the data and re-create a fresh array with the new larger drives installed.

Ok, so we've got the groundwork down with a 4-bay NAS device. What remains to be seen is how Western Digital has implemented the feature set. There is a lot to get through here, so let's get to it.

Read on for more on Western Digital's new My Cloud EX4!

Western Digital announces new Sentinel DS5100 and DS6100 small business NAS devices

Subject: Storage | October 10, 2013 - 09:21 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD

Today, Western Digital announced a couple of additions to their small business NAS solutions.

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These two new devices, marked in blue on the below spec comparison chart, are an updated version of the previous Sentinel DX4000 and RX4100 models. The new units feature Xeon processors running Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials. Unlike previous models, the new units can boot from separate 2.5" HDD's (or SSDs) running single or in a RAID-1 mirrored pair, meaning the system does not have to rely on the primary storage array for OS files. The use of the new Windows Server also enables the use of Storage Spaces in lieu of the on-board RAID solution, should the configuration require it.

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These are definitely higher end NAS devices which pack a lot of processing punch. As a result, they are a far cry from an ARM powered home NAS in price as well as in performance. We're following these releases closely, and expect additional releases along these lines from Western Digital in the future. I hope to see an 8 bay (or greater) model materialize as well.

Full press blast after the break:

Western Digital launches My Cloud storage device

Subject: Storage | October 2, 2013 - 10:42 PM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, My Cloud, cloud storage, cloud

Imagine a device of a similar form factor to the Western Digital My Book, but instead of USB or Thunderbolt connectivity, you had a Gigabit Ethernet connection and a dual core CPU capable of handling large throughputs to your home network. Toss in some back end software and a handfull of remote access apps for various mobile devices, and you have what Western Digital calls the My Cloud:

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The concept behind this is to have something similar to DropBox, with some differences. We will be diving further into the My Cloud shortly and will publish a full write-up for your viewing pleasure, but for now it seems to cover every base except for having your shared data available on mobile devices when those devices are offline (with the exception of cached copies, of course).

Full press blast afer the break:

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction

Introduction:

Last July, I went on a bit of a mini-rant about how using a bunch of drives not meant to be in a RAID could potentially lead to loss of the entire array from only a few bad sectors spread across several disks. Western Digital solved this problem by their introduction of the WD Red series. That series capped out at 3TB, and users were pushing for larger storage capacities for their NAS devices. In addition to the need for larger disks came the need for *smaller* disks as well, as there are some manufacturers that wish to create NAS / HTPC type devices that house multiple 2.5" HDD's. One such device is the Drobo Mini - a 4x2.5" device which has not really had a 'proper' NAS storage element available - until now:

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Today Western Digital has announced a twofold expansion to their Red Series. First is a 4TB capacity in their 3.5" series, and second is a 2.5" iteration of the Red, available in both 750GB and 1TB capacities.

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, and Western Digital is removing that last excuse for not doing so by introducing a flagship 4TB capacity to the Red Series.

Continue reading our review of the new WD 3.5" and 2.5" Hard Drives!!

WD Improves Red, expands line to include 4TB and 2.5" form factor

Subject: Storage | September 3, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, red, NAS, hdd

Today Western Digital launched both a 4TB 3.5" Red, as well as a new 2.5" form factor available in both 750GB and 1TB:

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The full press blast from WD appears after the break. Once you're done perusing, be sure to check out our Full Review of these two new models!

Western Digital shrinks 1TB 2.5" WD Blue HDD down to 7mm

Subject: Storage | June 3, 2013 - 08:15 AM |
Tagged: western digital, wdc, Blue, 7mm, 1TB

Today Western Digital continues their push for smaller and thinner mobile hard drives by releasing a 1TB revision to their 7mm Blue series of mobile devices:

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Looking at the new spec sheet, the new 1TB Blue carries increased cache (16MB) and reduced Drive Ready time (2.8 sec) as compared to their previous 9.5mm 1TB models.

Press blast after the break.

Western Digital refreshes enterprise lineup, launches new Se series datacenter HDD

Subject: Storage | May 28, 2013 - 08:15 AM |
Tagged: Xe, western digital, wdc, se, RE, hdd

Today Western Digital did a slight rearranging of their enterprise product lineup:

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Starting from the top down, the Xe series is essentially a SAS version of their 2.5" 10k RPM VelociRaptor form factor, available in 300GB, 600GB, and 900GB capacities. The Re series is the same 'RE' we are all familiar with, and is now available in both SAS and SATA. That bottom block, however, is something new:

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The Se series is Western Digital's attempt at a lower cost Re series drive, and will be available in capacities up to 4TB. 

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So the Se is an Advanced Format version of the Re, designed for reduced workloads. Throughput is slightly reduced due to differences in track geometry, though WD let me know they expect final shipping Se's may be closer to the Re spec than the slide indicates. The Se carries the same RPM as well as StableTrac (where the spindle is supported at both ends), RAFF (where accelerometers compensate for chassis vibration), and TLER (where IO request timeouts are adjusted to play nicely with hardware RAID).

The key to the success of the Se will be just what sort of reduced cost Western Digital is able to price the drive at. That information, as well as a full review of an Se, will be coming later today, just as soon as our next batch of samples arrives.

Western Digital updates mobile Blue series with 5mm thin HDD

Subject: Storage | April 23, 2013 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: wdc, WD, hdd, 5mm

Today Western Digital launched their new 5mm 2.5" Blue. This model will only come in 500GB. Capacity options are limited presumably due to a single 500GB platter, which is about all you can fit into a housing that's only 5mm thick.

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The drive launches at an MSRP of $89.00, but don't rush out to buy one just yet. The new drive will require a purpose-built installation, as it uses a new SFF-8784 edge connector to receive data and power from the host system. You're basically going to need a laptop that has a bay designed for just this drive, which may take a while.

Press blast after the break!

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