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:

WD EX4-market shift.png

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.

WD Sentinel DS6100 101013.jpg

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.

WD Sentinel.png

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:

WD My Cloud.jpg

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:

WD Red 4TB et SFF 083013.jpg

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!

HAMRs, Shingles and SSD cached HDDs; size versus speed

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, SMR, cache, hdd, Seagate, western digital, hgst, helium

Enthusiasts are wholeheartedly adopting SSDs for their storage media of choice with HDDs relegated to long term storage of infrequently accessed storage.  For SMB and enterprise it is not such an easy choice as the expense to move to a purely SSD infrastructure is daunting and often not the most cost effective way to run their business.  That is why HDD makers continue to develop new technology for platter based storage such as HAMR and shingled magnetic media in an attempt to speed up platter drives as well as increasing the storage density.  Today at The Register you can read about a variety of technologies that will keep the platter alive, from Seagate's cached Enterprise Turbo SSHD, HGST's helium filled drives and the latest predictions on when HAMR and SMR drives could arrive on the market.

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"At a briefing session for tech journos yesterday, Seagate dropped hints of new solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs) - which combine a non-volatile NAND cache with spinning platters - and a general session about Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) and Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

WD LAUNCHES FOURTH GENERATION WD ARKEIA NETWORK BACKUP APPLIANCES

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 28, 2013 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: western digital, Arkeia, backup

IRVINE, Calif. – June 27, 2013 – WD®, a Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC) company and world leader in digital storage solutions, today unveiled the fourth generation of WD Arkeia™ network backup appliances, delivering an all-in-one backup and disaster recovery solution for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

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The new line up consists of four rack-mount appliance models with larger internal disk capacities, faster processors, increased memory, and integrated solid state drives (SSDs) to shorten backup time and accelerate data recovery. The bundled WD Arkeia v10.1 software delivers new support for “seed and feed” technology to support hybrid cloud backups. This allows companies to move backups offsite via network replication rather than shipment of tapes.

“In announcing their fourth generation of purpose-built network backup appliances, WD Arkeia is delivering comprehensive SMB backup solutions that go beyond simple raw capacity increases,” said Liz Conner, senior research analyst, IDC. “WD Arkeia offers easy- to-use data protection that takes the guess work out of purchasing, configuring and managing data backup and recovery, while also embedding features such as deduplication and hybrid cloud backup for small- and medium-sized businesses or remote offices." “WD is committed to providing the growing SMB marketplace with a comprehensive suite of storage solutions,” said Jim Welsh, executive vice president and general manager of WD’s branded business unit. With unique features, these next-generation WD Arkeia network backup appliances offer solutions providers and their customers a simple, smart way to protect their data.

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Fourth-Generation Performance and Ease-of-Use
Fourth-generation WD Arkeia backup appliances deliver performance and ease-of-use at an affordable price for SMBs. These new appliances extend the upper range of WD Arkeia appliances and complement available lower-range appliances. WD Arkeia R120s and R220s, both with optional LTO4 tape drives, integrate dual-core Atom and quad-core Xeon processors, respectively. Existing appliances deliver disk capacities from 2TB to 12TB and will also bundle WD Arkeia v10.1. The new fourth-generation appliances offer: o Increased Backup and Recovery Speed: New features include integrated LTO5 tape drives, processor upgrades to a maximum of 2 hex-core Intel® Xeon®, integrated SSDs on select models, and memory up to 96 GB to allow for increased data backup and recovery speeds of both files and disk images. WD Arkeia’s patented Progressive Deduplication™ technology accelerates backups by compressing data at source computers before transfer over local area networks (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs).

  • Higher Storage Capacity: Storage capacity doubles from the third generation, with raw capacity now ranging up to 48 TB, configured in RAID-6.
  • Improved Ease of Use: Version 10.1 of WD Arkeia software, delivered with the new generation, includes an on-boarding wizard to streamline the appliance setup process. 
  • Storage Reliability: All new WD Arkeia appliances feature WD enterprise-class WD RE™ hard drives for maximum data integrity.
  • Simplified Tape-free, Offsite Storage: Version 10.1 of WD Arkeia software extends support for hybrid cloud backup capabilities to the full line of WD Arkeia appliances. “Seed and feed” capabilities allow administrators to supplement network replication of backup sets offsite by using USB-connected hard drives to transfer initial and large backup sets and also to size WAN bandwidth for the replication of nightly incremental backups.

Pricing and Availability
WD Arkeia fourth generation network backup appliances – models RA4300, RA4300T, RA5300, RA6300 – will be available in July 2013 through select DMR’s and WD-authorized value-added resellers (VARs) in the US, Canada, and Europe. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, including hardware and software, begins at $9,990 USD. WD Arkeia network backup appliances are covered by one year of unlimited access to technical support, one year of software updates, and a one-year limited hardware warranty.

Hopefully you have had chicken pox already, otherwise you might want to skip Shingled HDDs

Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2013 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: HAMR, western digital, ssd, hdd, Areal Density

Western Digital, along with Seagate, Toshiba, and Hitachi are working on the next step in increasing the storage density of platter based drives while HAMR is still in the works.  They will be adding overlapping tracks to their platters, which they are referring to as shingles (as in the roof, not the pox).  There will be two types implemented, with the first type having the shingling hidden to ensure compatibility with existing applications which might take exception to overlapping data tracks.  Type two will not hide its light under a bushel and will require applications to be aware of the shingling and hopefully take full advantage of the new type of magnetic recording.  According to the presentation that The Register attended we will see shingles in the near future, with HAMR due in 2016.

wd_areal_density_graphic.jpg

"Over the coming years the remaining players will be pushing traditional technology to its limits to extend the life of hard disk technology. While the industry is pretty much standardised on perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) at present, in a couple of years there will be more fundamental hard drive technologies co-existing in the market than there are hard drive vendors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

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:

WDBlue_7mm_1TB_PRN.jpg

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:

wd se-1.png

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:

wd se-2.png

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

wd se-3.png

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.