Introduction and Internals
I'm going to let the cat out of the bag right here and now. Everyone's home RAID is likely an accident waiting to happen. If you're using regular consumer drives in a large array, there are some very simple (and likely) scenarios that can cause it to completely fail. I'm guilty of operating under this same false hope - I have an 8-drive array of 3TB WD Caviar Greens in a RAID-5. For those uninitiated, RAID-5 is where one drive worth of capacity is volunteered for use as parity data, which is distributed amongst all drives in the array. This trick allows for no data loss in the case where a single drive fails. The RAID controller can simply figure out the missing data by running the extra parity through the same formula that created it. This is called redundancy, but I propose that it's not.
Subject: Storage | July 10, 2012 - 05:04 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, red, NAS, hdd, Hard Drive
** Note ** - Full review has been posted HERE!
Today Western Digital launches their Red series of hard drives. These are basically Caviar Greens that are specificially tuned to operate in small RAID configurations - namely home and small business NAS solutions containing up to 5 drives. These drives carry over some of the features present on Western Digital's Enterprise lines while adding a few of their own.
We got samples of the Red in yesterday evening, so instead of going on with conjecture derived from the news post, I'll hit you with the new features and a bit of my initial impressions from our early benching:
- Extremely quiet operation thanks to a new dynamic balancing mechanism built into the spindle motor hub. The drive essentially re-balances itself on-the-fly as temperatures change, etc.
- Seeks are equally quiet - quiet enough that a bunch of these doing random access outside of an enclosure would barely be audible from only a few feet away.
- Great sequential throughput (~150MB/sec at start of disk, ramping down to ~65MB/sec at the end).
- Random access times in the 20ms range - likely due to the very quiet seeking mechanism.
- Red Series drives will all be advanced format (i.e. internally addressed by 4k sectors).
- Reds will all be 1TB/platter, available in 1, 2, and 3TB capacities. This gives similar throughput figures regardless of capacity purchased.
- 3-year warranty, with a 24/7 support hotline specifically for Red owners.
- Red drives feature a QR code on the label to assist with any support issues down the road.
I'm not kidding about the quiet operation. The only sound the Red makes is reminiscent of a DVD spinning at low speed, in a sound deadening enclosure. There is no motor whine whatsoever and the head actuator is nearly inaudible. I have to almost lay my head on the drive to tell it is seeking at all.
A full review with all of the gory details will be up later today. For now I leave you with the WD press release after the break, along with this nifty QR to get you more info on the Red Series:
*note - the QR page may not yet be live.
A few weeks ago I witnessed a technology demo by Western Digital. I arrived expecting to see something storage related, but what I saw was completely different - a new line of routers!
The new 'My Net' series of Western Digital routers are intended to cover the mid to high end of the home usage spectrum. Models start with 4 ports of Fast Ethernet and scale all the way up to 7x GigE switching. All models support some form of simultaneous dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz), with a minimum of 2x2 and scaling up to 3x3 configurations (more detail / explanation on that later).
It's been a long while since we've looked at a hard drive, and how fitting that it be a new model of the Western Digital VelociRaptor! Western Digital appears to be on a somewhat fixed 2-year cycle with these, as out 600GB VelociRaptor Review went up two Aprils ago, and the 300GB two years prior to that. Well then, let's take a look at this new model!
(from left) 300GB, 600GB, and finally the 1TB VelociRaptor
Here's the old school VelociRaptor logo (from back when they were less than 100GB!)
Subject: Storage | December 30, 2011 - 06:45 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, Warranty, Seagate, hitachi, hdd
It's been a few short months since Thailand saw some serious flood damage. The flooding had a huge impact on everything from Automobile production to the making of fiber optic cables. The largest impact to the computer industry was that of storage devices. While flash memory fabs were spared, makers of HDD components were hit hard.
Hitachi plant in Thailand, partially submerged.
This effect quickly trickled down to the HDD quickly spiking prices by nearly 200% by Halloween. Inventories remained at critically low levels for a 60-day window - long enough to have far reaching impact on the PC industry as a whole. With a key component missing from PC production chains, the effects caused dips in demand from the PC suppliers, eventually trickling back up the chain to other component makers. Intel was forced to scale back their chip production. The industry finally saw a reprieve just a few weeks ago, as HDD production recovered sufficiently as to begin the slow replenishment process, and it started to look like everything would be ok.
...and then the other shoe dropped.
Right as HDD Suppliers started catching up on supply, Western Digital made a surprising announcement. Starting on January 2nd of next year, most of their drive lines will see a drastic reduction to warranty periods. Caviar Blue, Caviar Green, and Scorpio Blue drives see a 50% drop from 3 to 2 years. Seagate quickly jumped on the bandwagon, cutting the 5-year warranties of several of their lines down to three. Even worse, the Baracuda, Baracuda Green, and Momentus (laptop) drives will be cut from five all the way down to 1-year warranties. Seagate's reductions go into effect December 31, 2011.
The Momentus XT, while technically a Hybrid SSD/HDD, was not spared in the warranty cuts.
This isn't the first time warranties saw an across-the-board cut in duration. Back in 2002, Western Digital and Seagate (as well as Maxtor - since acquired by Seagate), jointly cut their warranties back to just one year. The reasoning back then was claimed to be strictly business, and that it was done to be in-line with the 1-year warranty provided by PC OEM's, but was that the only reason? We would need a bunch of data on HDD failure rates to know for sure...
Western Digital launches Sentinel Series of NAS devices, bringing enterprise features to the small business.
Subject: Storage | November 15, 2011 - 05:08 AM | Allyn Malventano
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).
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.
Subject: General Tech, Storage | October 27, 2011 - 01:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: wdc, shortage, Seagate, Samsung, hitachi, hdd, Hard Drive
Chances are good you have heard about the recent flooding in Thailand - as Yahoo puts it: "The country's worst flooding in half a century, caused in part by unusually heavy monsoon rain, has killed 373 people since mid-July and disrupted the lives of nearly 2.5 million." Obviously this is a horrific disaster and we feel for the people affected by it.
But there is a tech angle to the story that has been showing up in many of our discussions as late and is the impact this disaster has had on the production of spindle-based hard drives. Looking for a 2TB hard drive today on Newegg.com this is what I found:
Prices for hard drives have sky rocketed in the last week or so due to the pending shortage of them across the world. Many of the top manufacturers have facilities based in Thailand for production as well as partners that are responsible for supplying companies like Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi with the parts they need to produce platter-based drives.
While we used to talk about finding 2TB hard drives in the $89 price range, the best prices we could find on comparable units today start at $129; and this is for the slower units. Western Digital Caviar Black drives are starting at unit prices of $229 now!
Pricing graph from Pricegrabber.com for Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
If you are careful and shop around, you can still find drives like this for the $149 price point at sellers like Amazon are bit slower to update their prices. (Scratch that, after publication this was already at $199!) But don't just blindly purchase drives at this point - do your research!
WD drives aren't the only ones affected. When doing a search for a Seagate 2TB drive, these were our results:
When asked for comment, a representative of one of the affected manufacturers expressed concern for the people of Thailand first, but when pressed, said:
"The entire hard drive business is affected. Two of our factories are inundated with water, which supports 60% of our output. But a ton of suppliers that the entire industry uses are also flooded so we are all impacted."
While looking over at WD's press center we found this comment from John Coyne, President and CEO:
In mid-October, to protect our employees and our equipment and facilities, we temporarily suspended production at our two factories in Thailand, which have been inundated by floodwater. In addition, many of our component suppliers have been impacted, leaving material for hard drive production considerably constrained. We are working with suppliers to assess the extent of their impact and help devise short- and long-term solutions. This is a complex and dynamic challenge that will require extensive rebuilding for the Thai people and government, and present unprecedented obstacles to the hard drive industry for multiple quarters.
Obviously with a majority of the facilities affected we can only expect these prices hikes to increase and to linger. That fact that Coyne specifically notes "multiple quarters" indicates that users likely won't see a return to the pricing we were used to until at least mid-2012. With competition from solid-state drives heating up, this could be bad timing for companies dependent on spindle drives as the driving revenue source: comparing a $300 SSD to a $90 standard drive is a much different decision than that same $300 SSD and a $240 standard drive of high capacity.
According to this report from Xbit labs, the industry has "two to four weeks" of hard drive inventory available. The author claims that this points to the situation not being so dire, but with the WD's CEO stating the effects will be seen for "multiple quarters", I am guessing we will see a major buy-up of inventory from system builders like HP and Dell that will cause drive shortages much more quickly than anticipated.
PC Perspective will keep tracking the effects on driving pricing and if any player in the business has other input they want to offer us. Stay tuned!
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