Podcast #340 - News from GDC 2015, FreeSync Release Date, Vulkan and Mantle, and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2015 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: western digital, vulkan, video, SSD 750, Re+, raptr, r9 390x, podcast, nvidia, Mantle, Intel, imagination, gtx 960, gsync, gdc 15, freesync, Broadwell, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #340 - 03/12/2015

Join us this week as we wrap up news from GDC 2015, FreeSync Release Date, Vulkan and Mantle, 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!

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Hosts:Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Paul Heimlich

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!


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.

CES 2015: Storage Visions: Western Digital SATA Express SSD+HDD Spotted

Subject: Storage, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2015 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: CES, western digital, storage visions, ssd, SATA Express, hybrid, hdd, ces 2015

At the SATA-IO booth at Storage Visions, they have a functional demo of Western Digital prototype hybrid HDD/SSD's.


These are not hybrid in the traditional sense, as the SSD portion (128GB JMicron based controller driving Toshiba flash in the case of these prototypes) is logically separated from the HDD portion (a standard 4TB Black in this case).



Given that a SATA Express link can simultaneously pass a PCIe 2.0 x2 link in addition to a SATA 6Gbit/sec link, this one unit can link an SSD and an HDD simultaneously and independently. Above you see the standard SATA Express connector, and below is how those pins are connected at the drive itself:


Note the additional pins at what is usually the black side of the connector.


The rest of the connector is mostly a standard SATA connector that you are used to seeing.

At the demo, we saw a single 3.5" hybrid unit booting from the SSD portion and using the 4TB HDD for mass storage, all from the same device. The second demo had a separate boot drive and linked a pair of these prototype units in a dual RAID. Configured through Windows dynamic volumes, a RAID of the HDD's offered the increased performance you might expect from a pair of 4TB WD Blacks. The SSD portion of each unit was also RAIDed, and we saw their combined throughput as just over 1GB/sec. That was not much more than what a pair of RAIDed SATA 6Gb/sec SSDs would do, but realize this was being accomplished in addition to (and independently of) the HDD portions.

We were not allowed to start removing screws, but here's a look at the accessible portion of the logic board for this drive:


There is a JMicron controller paired with a single package of Toshiba flash. Toshiba has shown they can contain 128GB in a single package, so no problems there.

We're not sure where this technology is headed as the recent trend has been towards sticking with the standard SATA link for mass storage and M.2 SSDs plugged directly into the added port we've been seeing in many recent motherboards. We'll keep an eye on this technology moving forward, but for now at least we have seen it in the flesh and fully functional.

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

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.


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.

A brisk tour of IDF 2014

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2014 - 01:04 PM |
Tagged: idf 2014, western digital, hgst, Intel, dell

The Tech Report have been busy scribing up the various announcements and product releases that Intel and others are revealing at this years IDF.  The HDD is staying alive by offering larger capacities than were available previously, from Western Digital's  6.3 TB archival model to HGST's 10TB helium filled monster with a 3.2TB SSD also available for frequently accessed data.  From Intel comes information on Skylake systems and their wireless charging to the first benchmarks we've seen for Core M ultraportables.  Also present were Dell, which allowed TR some hands on time with their Venue 8 7000 and of course a small announcement from that other company.


"Somewhat surprisingly, the initial model's capacity is listed as 6.x TB. The Ae is based on an "innovative Progressive Capacity model" that allows WD to increase the capacity of shipping drives as yields improve and the company gets better at squeezing more data onto the platters. The gains will be small—capacities of 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 TB are listed as examples—but WD says the folks who need drives like these are hungry for even incremental improvements."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Podcast #316 - Haswell-E Review, New AMD FX Processors, Radeon R9 285 and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 4, 2014 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Haswell-E, 5960X, 5820K, amd, fx 8370, 8370e, 9590, r9 285, X99, western digital, my passport wireless, netgear, Matrox, r9 295x2

PC Perspective Podcast #316 - 09/04/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our Haswell-E Review, New AMD FX Processors, Radeon R9 285 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!

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  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Program length: 1:32:43

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!


Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


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!:


Behold the WD My Passport Wireless!

Read on for our full review!

Western Digital launches My Passport Metal Edition. 10th Anniversary Edition coming soon.

Subject: Storage | August 19, 2014 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: western digital, portable, my passport, hdd

It's the 10th anniversary of Western Digital's My Passport line. To celebrate the occasion, they have launched an updated series:


The My Passport Ultra is available in 1TB and 2TB capacities, in both 'Metal' and 'Anniversary' Editions. The aluminum enclosures have an old-school radio-dial style finish. Both editions communicate over USB 3.0. While the Anniversary model comes out in September, the Metal Edition is now shipping at $89 for 1TB and $139 for 2TB.

Full press blast after the break:

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).


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.


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.

Podcast #308 - Intel and Mantle, XSPC Watercooling Kits, Quantum Dots, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2014 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Intel, Mantle, amd, nvidia, XSPC, quantum dots, western digital, My Cloud Mirror, A10-7850K, Kaveri, arm, quakecon

PC Perspective Podcast #308 - 07/10/2014

Join us this week as we discuss Intel using Mantle, XSPC Watercooling Kits, Quantum Dots, 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!

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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman

Program length: 1:25:47

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!