Introduction and Specs
*** 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.
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.
Subject: Storage | July 15, 2014 - 06:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hdd, Seagate, enterprise, 6tb, sata
For many users the purchase of a 6TB SSD is out of their price range and for many businesses who need long term storage the return on investment simply doesn't justify an SSD. In some cases tape backup is sufficient but not always which is where products like Seagate's 6TB Enterprise drive excel, a 7200 RPM with an impressive 216MB/s stated sustained transfer rate. It comes with a 5 year warranty and is rated at 550TB per year which means that even if it is heavily used you should not expect failure rates to be high. It does cost a bit at $480 which makes the SAS 4TB model a bit more attractive but when your data needs its space it is hard to find a larger drive. Check out the benchmarks at Overclockers Club.
"Compared to your standard consumer level 3TB drive this thing is double the capacity and brings home the money with the performance. To have capacity and performance at the same time is the golden ticket. Although this drive has the added cost of being an enterprise drive, having dealt with some enterprise drives I can say it is well worth it if longevity and long up time is what you are looking for.”
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Thecus NAS 5550 Server Review @ TechwareLabs
- Thecus N4800Eco 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- QNAP TurboNAS TS-121 NAS Server Review @ NikKTech
- Teratrend TS432U 4-bay RAID Enclosure Review @ Techgage
- Thecus N5550 Network Attached Storage Review @ Modders-Inc
- Synology DS415Play 4-Bay NAS @ eTeknix
- KingFast Encrypted USB Flash Drive Review @ Madshrimps
- Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- Corsair Flash Voyager GTX 128GB @ Kitguru
- Plextor M6e Review: Solid State Drive for PCI Express @ X-bit Labs
- Intel SSD DC P3700 Enthusiast Report (800GB) @ SSD Review
- Silicon Power Slim S55 240GB SSD Review @ NikKTech
- SanDisk Extreme PRO Series SSD Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Storage, Shows and Expos | June 3, 2014 - 03:37 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: computex, computex 2014, WD, ssd, pcie, SATA Express, hdd
SATA Express is an interface to either connect a hard drive to PCIe lanes, or up to two drives via SATA. Obviously, PCIe bandwidth over a cable connection is the real draw. To use the full speed, however, the drive needs to be able to communicate over PCIe. Currently, the standard uses two PCI Express 2.0 lanes (1 GB/s).
Now that Z97 and H97 have launched, WD is set to show off the technology at Computex. The above image is apparently of a dual-drive product, containing 4TB of rotating media and 128GB of SSD memory. I am immediately reminded of the Western Digital Black2 dual drive which Allyn reviewed last November. That product crammed a 120GB SSD into a 2.5" 1TB HDD, which appeared to the system as two separate drives. The drive has "Technology Demonstration" written in red font right on it, but it could be a good representation of what the company is thinking about.
WD also asserts that their prototype uses standard AHCI drivers, for OS compatibility.
If you want to see this product in action, then -- well -- you kind-of need to be at Computex. At some point, you might be able to see it in your own PC. When? How much? No pricing and availability, again, because it is a tech demo.
Subject: Storage | February 17, 2014 - 03:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: western digital, Black, 4TB, hdd
There are still many times when having a huge amount of storage at a low price is more important than having the speed of an SSD and the Western Digitial Black family of drives is perfect for those scenarios. This 7200RPM HDD has five 800GB platters and a 64MB cache in the 4TB model TechARP reviewed though you can get smaller models if you so desire. While the drive will not compete against and SSD you can see in the review that this drive tops the other platter based models performance by a noticeable margin. If you need a large amount of space but can't pay around $1.00/GB then don't forget that HDDs are also still evolving.
"The new-generation Western Digital Black family differs from the previous generation by its use of Advanced Format Technology, which allows for greater capacity and throughput. The new Western Digital Black family now consists of five models, which differ only in their storage capacities."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Synology DS214SE @ Kitguru
- QNAP HS-210 Silent and Fanless 2-bay NAS Review @ Madshrimps
- Asustor AS-302T 2-bay NAS @ eTeknix
- Thecus N2310 Network Attached Storage (NAS) Review @HiTech Legion
- Asus SATA Express Hands-on Preview @ Kitguru
- Vantec IDE/SATA and NexStar eSATA to USB 3.0 Adapters Review @HiTech Legion
- Matsunichi 500GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive Review @ Legit Reviews
- EDGE Memory diskGO Pocket USB 3.0 SSD @ SSD Review
- MyDigitalSSD OTG (On The Go) Pocket SuperSpeed USB 3.0 SSD @ SSD Review
- MyDigitalSSD Super Cache 2 M.2 SSD @ SDD Review
- Mach Xtreme MX-LX 128GB USB3.0 Flash Drive @ eTeknix
- Silicon Power Jewel J10 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech, Storage | February 16, 2014 - 03:37 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: toshiba, hdd, 5TB
We may see an internal hard drive with up to 5TB of storage from Toshiba. This is an enterprise SKU but, either way, it is a step beyond the tyranny of 3TB models dotted with 4TB options at a higher price per gigabyte. For example, Newegg.com lists a 3TB Caviar Green at $114 with the 4TB version going for $164.
You might just be, Toshiba. You might just be.
The push to 3TB was fairly difficult, due mostly to software limitations in addressing more than about 2.2TB per drive. 3TB was uncommon for internal storage, although external USB drives avoided the issue. And then came the flood. Back in 2011, disastrous flooding exploded prices of hard drives. The world was cut to a fraction of its production. With standard 2TB drives over doubling in price, the industry took forever to return. Ryan, at the time (October 2011), noted that the days of 2TB for $89 would be gone for a while; that is the exact price which Newegg lists, today. Even worse, we basically did not see 4TB until almost 2013.
It is a good step, though. I hope this reaches other companies and the consumer space in reasonable time. While I am dreaming, just maybe it could push down prices on existing models? I am looking at you, 4TB disks.
Toshiba's MG04 series drives will be available in both SAS and SATA models with sizes up to 5TB. Samples will begin to ship this month.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, hdd, corsair
The Corsair Blog has been publishing several really interesting articles, lately. In January, they wrote an editorial which quantifies the benefits of modestly overclocking CPU, GPU, RAM, and all of the above. Their benchmarks showed which tests favored what type of component.
This time, they look at the benefits of SSDs. Their Neutron Series GTX 240GB SSD was compared against a 3TB WD Black HDD (which is decent drive). To get into the campaign, they measured an SSD requiring a little over two minutes while the HDD took a little over two-and-a-half minutes. Multiplayer was much more significant: an SSD made it in game in 42 seconds while the hard drive took 69 second. That is a whole 40% faster.
Most importantly, getting into the game a whole 27 seconds earlier gives you first pick at vehicles. The game keeps them briefly locked to allow users to connect but, as is usual for Battlefield games, there is still an advantage for people with fast hard drives. Battlefield 2 was the unspoken benefit of purchasing a Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drive, way back in 2006. You joined in as soon as you loaded which could mean nearly half of a minute to get your vehicle and go.
Shhh. Don't tell anyone.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
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:
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.
Does downloading make a difference?
I posted a story earlier this week that looked at the performance of the new PS4 when used with three different 2.5-in storage options: the stock 500GB hard drive, a 1TB hybrid SSHD and a 240GB SSD. The results were fairly interesting (and got a good bit of attention) but some readers wanted more data. In particular, many asked how things might change if you went the full digital route and purchased games straight from the Sony's PlayStation Network. I also will compare boot times for each of the tested storage devices.
You should definitely check out the previous article if you missed it. It not only goes through the performance comparison but also details how to change the hard drive on the PS4 from the physical procedure to the software steps necessary. The article also details the options we selected for our benchmarking.
- HGST 500GB 5400 RPM HDD - $50 - $0.10/GB
- Seagate 1TB Hybrid SSHD - $122 - $0.12/GB
- Corsair 240GB Force GS SSD - $189 - $0.78/GB
Today I purchased a copy of Assassin's Creed IV from the PSN store (you're welcome Ubisoft) and got to testing. The process was the same: start the game then load the first save spot. Again, each test was run three times and the averages were reported. The PS4 was restarted between each run.
The top section of results is the same that was presented earlier - average load times for AC IV when the game is installed from the Blu-ray. The second set is new and includes average load times fro AC IV after the installation from the PlayStation Network; no disc was in the drive during testing.
Load time improvements
On Friday Sony released the PlayStation 4 onto the world. The first new console launch in 7 years, the PS4 has a lot to live up to, but our story today isn't going to attempt to weigh the value of the hardware or software ecosystem. Instead, after our PS4 teardown video from last week, we got quite a few requests for information on storage performance with the PS4 and what replacement hardware might offer gamers.
Hard Drive Replacement Process
Changing the hard drive in your PlayStation 4 is quite simple, a continuation of a policy Sony's policy with the PS3.
Installation starts with the one semi-transparent panel on the top of the unit, to the left of the light bar. Obviously make sure your PS4 is completely turned off and unplugged.
Simply slide it to the outside of the chassis and wiggle it up to release. There are no screws or anything to deal with yet.
Once inside you'll find a screw with the PS4 shapes logos on them; that is screw you need to remove to pull out the hard drive cage.
Subject: General Tech | November 13, 2013 - 01:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: mtbf, hdd
One thing you can do when you have 25,000 consumer level HDDs running is to amass accurate data on the failure rates of drives. Backblaze has done exactly that and published their findings which match fairly closely to the predicted MTBF pattern of a spike in the beginning of the life cycle as flawed drives fail, a long period of reliability followed by another rise in failures as drives age beyond their expected lifespan. They have told the Register that they intend to follow up with tests on enterprise grade disks to see if the premium you pay is a good investment.
"Cloud backup outfit Backblaze has cobbled together all the data it's gathered from the 25,000 or so disk drives it keeps spinning and drawn some conclusions about just how long you can expect disks to survive in an array."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel Readies for Internet of Things Invasion with Linux @ Linux.com
- Pentagon Readies Contingency Plans Due To BlackBerry's Uncertain Future @ Slashdot
- 100,000 gullible hipsters botnetted in Instagram scam @ The Inquirer
- Britain's Conservatives Scrub Speeches from the Internet @ Slashdot
- Makerbot vows to plonk a 3D printer in every one of Uncle Sam's schools @ The Register
- Win A Raijintek Ereboss, Themis or Aidos CPU Cooler @ eTeknix