Western Digital Launches Ultrastar DC HC530 14 TB PMR with TDMR HDD

Western Digital Launches Ultrastar DC HC530 14 TB PMR with TDMR HDD

On Wednesday, Western Digital introduced its highest capacity hard drive based on conventional magnetic recording to date. The HGST Ultrastar DC HC530 can store 14 TB of data and uses perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) with two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) read heads to ensure consistent read performance. Because of extremely high areal density, the new HDDs offer up to 267 MB/s sustained transfer rate, slightly higher when compared to previous-gen drives. The new hard disks will be available in high volumes later this year.

The HGST Ultrastar DC HC530 hard drive is based on Western Digital’s latest helium-filled HelioSeal platform (5th generation) featuring eight 1.75 TB PMR platters and TDMR heads with two readers to ensure predictable read performance by mitigating effects of inter-track interference. The new platform not only packs eight 3.5-inch platters and features new heads, but also uses revamped (3rd generation) dual stage microactuators to improve head positioning and rotations vibration robustness, thus, advancing reliability of the datacenter-grade HDD in general. Other ingredients of the new HelioSeal platform include a top and bottom attached motor (with a 7200 RPM spindle speed), top and bottom attached disk clamps, RVFF sensors, humidity sensors, and so on. The new datacenter-grade Ultrastar DC HC530 HDDs are rated for a 550 TB/annual workload, a 2.5 million hours MTBF, and are covered by a five-year limited warranty.

The Ultrastar DC HC530 will be available only in 14 TB capacity with 4Kn and 512e sectors. The hard drive will feature a 7200 RPM spindle speed, a 512 MB buffer, and a SATA or SAS interface. The manufacturer will offer Ultrastar DC HC530 HDDs with hardware self-encryption capability, instant secure erase feature, TCG encryption, and TCG FIPS encryption to various parties. When it comes to performance, HGST declares up to 267 MB/s sustained transfer rate, a 4.16 ms average latency, a 7.5 ms seek time.

HGST Ultrastar DC HC530 General Specifications
Capacity 14 TB
RPM 7200 RPM
Interface SATA 6 Gbps SAS 12 Gbps
DRAM Cache 512 MB
Format: Sector Sizes 4Kn: 4096
512e: 512
4Kn: 4096, 4112, 4160, 4224
512e: 512, 520, 528
Helium-Filling Yes
Areal Density 904 Gbit/inch2
Sustained Transfer Rate 267 MB/s
Average Latency 4.16 ms
Seek Time (read/write) 7.5 ms
Acoustics 2.0/3.6 Bels
Power Rating Idle 5.6 W 6.3 W
Operating 7.6 W 10.2 W
Power consumption efficiency at Idle 0.4 W/TB 0.45 W/TB
MTBF 2.5 million hours
Warranty 5 Years
P/Ns, Features 4Kn Instant Secure Erase WUH721414ALN6L0 WUH721414AL4200
Secure Erase WUH721414ALN6L4 WUH721414AL4204
TCG Encryption WUH721414AL4201
TCG w/FIPS Encryption WUH721414AL4205
512e Instant Secure Erase WUH721414ALE6L0 WUH721414AL5200
Secure Erase WUH721414ALE6L4 WUH721414AL5204
TCG Encryption WUH721414AL5201
TCG w/FIPS Encryption WUH721414AL5205

HGST’s Ultrastar DC HC530 14 TB HDD will not be the only datacenter-grade 14 TB CMR hard drive on the market: it will be challenged by Seagate’s Exos 14 featuring eight platters (PMR+TDMR) as well as Toshiba’s Toshiba’s MG07ACA featuring nine platters (PMR only). All of these drives are drop-in compatible with existing backplanes and provide a 40% more storage than their 10 TB predecessors, enabling datacenter operators to store 3360 TB of data per rack (compared to 2440 TB with 10 TB HDDs). This naturally increases storage capacity per square meter and per watt, which is what companies who run large datacenters want.

Meanwhile, there is one thing to keep in mind about contemporary high-capacity hard drives. While datacenter-grade HDDs have been steadily increasing their capacity over the recent years (capacity of PMR HDDs has nearly doubled in just three years), their IOPS performance stayed flat at around 80 IOPS random reads, which means that their IOPS-per-TB performance declined from 10 IOPS per TB on an 8 TB nearline HDD to 5.7 IOPS per TB on a 14 TB nearline HDD. IOPS-per-TB is a critical performance metrics for cloud datacenters that deserves a separate coverage (so stay tuned), but in a nutshell, if IOPS-per-TB drops below a certain level, datacenter operators cannot guarantee time to data for their customers on a particular drive. Various datacenters have different performance requirements, but 5.7 IOPS per TB is considered to be the lowest viable performance for a nearline HDD (at least based on one of Seagate’s presentation that uses data from operators of massive scale-out datacenters). There are applications that need a higher random performance and they will not be able to use these 14 TB drives. There are, of course, other applications that will use the new 14 TB HDDs perfectly (after all, many of HGST’s customers can use SMR-based Ultrastar Hs14 HDDs), but a lower IOPS-per-TB performance means a somewhat smaller addressable market.

Western Digital has already begun to ship samples of the HGST Ultrastar DC HC530 14 TB HDDs to select hyperscale cloud clients for qualification. Volume shipments of the drives will commence in the second half of the year. 

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Best Consumer Hard Drives: Holiday 2017

Best Consumer Hard Drives: Holiday 2017

Data storage requirements have seen an exponential increase over the last several years. Despite SSDs taking over the role of the primary drive in most computing systems, hard drives continue to shine in areas requiring storage of large amount of data. Hard drives are also suitable for workloads that are largely sequential and not performance sensitive. SSDs are yet to achieve the low $/GB metric that makes HDDs attractive in that market segment. Modern games run into 100s of GBs in terms of install size. As flash prices continue to stay high, high-capacity SSDs have tended to carry a significant premium. In this scenario, the gaming crowd may find hard drives attractive. This guide will help readers choose the appropriate hard drive based on their workload, while also keeping the price factor in mind.

There are three active vendors in the consumer hard drive space – Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital. While Seagate and Toshiba offer hard drives targeting desktop workloads at their leading capacity points, Western Digital reserves the leading edge for enterprise and NAS drives. As of today, Toshiba’s highest capacity hard drive for the power user / NAS market is only 8TB. Western Digital has 10TB drives, while Seagate has 12TB ones. Toshiba’s 8TB offerings (the N300 and the X300) didn’t make it to our testbed in time for this guide. With a focus on comparison of metrics for the purpose of recommendation, we restrict our options pool to the following drives:

  1. Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB
  2. Western Digital Red Pro 10TB
  3. Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB
  4. Seagate IronWolf NAS 12TB
  5. Seagate IronWolf NAS 10TB
  6. Western Digital Red 10TB

Device Characteristics and Firmware Features

HD Tune Pro provides us a quick look at the supported SATA feature set of the drives. We find that the Western Digital drives offer features such as advanced power management and host protected areas.

Drive Information
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TBWestern Digital Red Pro 10TBSeagate BarraCuda Pro 10TBSeagate IronWolf 10TBSeagate IronWolf 12TBWestern Digital Red 10TB

The WD Red also has a spindle speed of 5400 RPM compared to 7200 RPM in other drives. This lower spindle speed is also responsible for its excellent power consumption profile.

Performance Benchmarking with HD Tune Pro

The first set of benchmarks that we look at is from HD Tune Pro. The program allows us to test different workloads. They make it clear as to how the performance would vary as the drive gets filled up. In particular, we can see significant difference when the area being accessed is on the outer side of the platter compared to the points closer to the center.

Sequential Read / Write Benchmark
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TBWestern Digital Red Pro 10TBSeagate BarraCuda Pro 10TBSeagate IronWolf 10TBSeagate IronWolf 12TBWestern Digital Red 10TB

Out of all the considered drives, the BarraCuda Pro 12TB version performs the best. At the 10TB point, both the BarraCuda Pro and the Red Pro perform similarly. The 5400 RPM speed of the Red puts it in the last place.

Random Access Benchmarks
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TBWestern Digital Red Pro 10TBSeagate BarraCuda Pro 10TBSeagate IronWolf 10TBSeagate IronWolf 12TBWestern Digital Red 10TB

In the random access benchmark, the WD Red Pro comes out better than the BarraCuda Pro. In general, the WD drives give more IOPS compared to the Seagate ones.

Miscellaneous Hard Drive-Specific Tests
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TBWestern Digital Red Pro 10TBSeagate BarraCuda Pro 10TBSeagate IronWolf 10TBSeagate IronWolf 12TBWestern Digital Red 10TB

The behavior in the extra tests is similar to what we observed in the random access tests. The key takeaway here is that Seagate wins out on the sequential front, but, the WD is slightly more optimized for random accesses also.

Performance Benchmarking with Custom Tests

The previous subsection dealt with artificial workloads. We also have results from our custom evaluation routine – robocopy benchmarks with performance consistency checks as well as the PCMark 8 storage workloads.

The most common usage scenario for high-capacity SATA hard drives in a desktop or direct-attached scenario is the transfer of large amounts of photos and videos to and from the unit. The minor usage scenario is importing files directly off the drive into a multimedia editing program such as Adobe Photoshop.

In order to tackle the first use-case, we created three test folders with the following characteristics:

  • Photos: 15.6 GB collection of 4320 photos (RAW as well as JPEGs) in 61 sub-folders
  • Videos: 16.1 GB collection of 244 videos (MP4 as well as MOVs) in 6 sub-folders
  • BR: 10.7 GB Blu-ray folder structure of the IDT Benchmark Blu-ray

Photos ReadPhotos WriteVideos ReadVideos WriteBlu-ray Folder ReadBlu-ray Folder WriteExpand All

Photos Read

For the second use-case, we take advantage of PC Mark 8’s storage bench. The storage workload involves games as well as multimedia editing applications. The command line version allows us to cherry-pick storage traces to run on a target drive. We chose the following traces.

  • World of Warcraft
  • Battlefield 3
  • Adobe Photoshop (Light)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Heavy)
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Illustrator

Usually, PC Mark 8 reports time to complete the trace, but the detailed log report has the read and write bandwidth figures which we present in our performance graphs. Note that the bandwidth number reported in the results don’t involve idle time compression. Results might appear low, but that is part of the workload characteristic.

World of Warcraft ReadBattlefield 3 ReadAdobe Photoshop Light ReadAdobe Photoshop Heavy ReadAdobe After Effects ReadAdobe Illustrator ReadWorld of Warcraft WriteBattlefield 3 WriteAdobe Photoshop Light WriteAdobe Photoshop Heavy WriteAdobe After Effects WriteAdobe Illustrator WriteExpand All

World of Warcraft Read

We find that the Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB comes out on top for the gaming access traces, as well as all other read-intensive scenarios. The WD Red Pro takes the lead in some of the write scenarios.

Performance Consistency and Thermals

Yet another interesting aspect of these drives is performance consistency. In order to get an idea of relative power consumption as well as the thermal characteristics, we instrumented our robocopy DAS benchmark suite to record the hard drive’s read and write transfer rates while the robocopy process took place in the background. We also recorded the internal temperature of the drive during the process. The graphs below show the speeds observed during our real-world DAS suite processing. The first three sets of writes and reads correspond to the photos suite. A small gap (for the transfer of the videos suite from the primary drive to the RAM drive) is followed by three sets for the next data set. Another small RAM-drive transfer gap is followed by three sets for the Blu-ray folder.

Performance Consistency and Thermal Characteristics
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TBWestern Digital Red Pro 10TBSeagate BarraCuda Pro 10TBSeagate IronWolf 10TBSeagate IronWolf 12TBWestern Digital Red 10TB

As expected, the WD Red shows the minimum temperature rise / lowest power consumption, but, it also takes the longest to complete the benchmark. The Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB performance well overall. However, at the 10TB capacity point, the WD Red Pro gets the edge over the Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB version.

Concluding Remarks

Analyzing the results of our evaluation indicates that different vendors optimize the firmware of their units for different use-cases. Therefore, each of the top drives manages to excel in one workload or the other. Before going to the recommendations, it is helpful to have a look at the pricing for the models.

Consumer Hard Drives – Pricing (as on 24th Nov. 2017)
Drive Model Number Capacity (GB) Street Price (USD) Price per GB (cents/GB)
Seagate IronWolf 10TB ST10000VN0004 10000 300 3.00
Seagate IronWolf 12TB ST12000VN0007 12000 400 3.33
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB ST10000DM0004 10000 360 3.60
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB ST12000DM0007 12000 460 3.83
Western Digital Red 10TB WD100EFAX 10000 395 3.95
Western Digital Red Pro 10TB WD101KFBX 10000 450 4.50

The Seagate IronWolf 10TB is the best value for money. The Seagate BarraCuda Pro 12TB version gets our recommendation for the best performing consumer hard drive for gaming desktops and direct-attached-storage units. The WD Red Pro 10TB also performs very well, but carries premium pricing (due to its NAS focus). We recommend it for content creation desktops. The WD Red 10TB is the best choice for scenarios where low power consumption is essential.

Toshiba Commercializes SDK’s 9th Gen PMR, Tech Enables 14 TB PMR HDDs in 2018

Toshiba Commercializes SDK’s 9th Gen PMR, Tech Enables 14 TB PMR HDDs in 2018

Toshiba recently started to ship its single-platter 1 TB 2.5”/7 mm hard drives in the HDD market for notebooks. The drive is based on Showa Denko K.K.’s (SDK) 9th generation perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) platters that have never been used for any products before. The main feature of the new generation is increased areal density, which enables 1 TB 2.5” platters and up to 1.8 TB 3.5” platters. This opens the door for the next-gen nearline PMR HDDs with up to 14 TB capacity sometimes in 2018.

Small Drive Prognosticates Big Future for 9th Gen PMR

Toshiba is the first customer of SDK to use its latest 1 TB 2.5” PMR media inside the single-platter MQ04ABF100 hard drive. The drive has a 128MB cache buffer and features a 5400 RPM spindle speed. The 2.5”/7 mm drive is aimed at inexpensive laptops that require a lot of storage. Toshiba officially introduced the drive in late September. PC makers like Lenovo have started to add its support to BIOSes of some PCs, indicating that actual shipments of the HDD have either started, or, are about to. Previous 2.5”/7 mm drives such as those from Seagate (ST1000LM048) and Western Digital (WD10SPZX) used platters based on shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology with all its associated performance peculiarities. While the launch of a PMR-based 1 TB 2.5”/7 mm HDD is important, the potential of the 9th generation PMR does not end here.

Since 2015, Showa Denko has found a way to increase areal density of its 9G PMR media, SDK’s 3.5″ 9G PMR platters now have capacity of up to 1.8 TB.

According to SDK, 9th generation PMR media for 3.5” hard drives will have capacity between 1.5 and 1.8 TB. Typically, platters of the same generation produced by SDK, Seagate, and Western Digital have similar areal density with some minor differences. Therefore, we can expect the 9th gen PMR technology from the aforementioned HDD makers to feature similar capacities. Showa Denko plans to start mass production of its 9th gen PMR 3.5” media in early 2018, but, neither Seagate nor Western Digital (who produce their leading-edge platters in-house) have announced their timeline for similar discs. Typically, production schedules for advanced media also tend to be very similar for various makers, but we do not have any official data in hand right now.

14 TB PMR HDDs May Be Just Around the Corner

Today’s top-of-the-range enterprise-class 3.5” HDDs from Seagate and Western Digital can store up to 12 TB of data. They are based on eight 8th generation PMR platters featuring ~1.5 TB capacities. Toshiba is a little bit behind its rivals with their 10 TB units featuring seven 8th gen platters with 1.43 TB capacity. With the arrival of the 9th gen PMR platters in 2018, hard drive makers will be able to increase the capacities of their eight-platter models to 14 TB, while designs with seven platters can go up to 12 TB.

It is interesting to note that Seagate has been talking about 14 TB models for a while, without any concrete public details. Meanwhile, the company’s 14 TB HDD will be more than just a capacity bump. With the 12 TB Enterprise Capacity (Exos) model, Seagate began to use TDMR (two-dimensional magnetic recording) technology to boost the read performance of the drives. The 14 TB HDD will take advantage of Seagate’s 2nd gen TDMR implementation. We can expect an increase in performance and/or other refinements.

Toshiba has also been talking about its 14 TB HDDs since at least mid-2016 (investor presentation, page 22). As Toshiba does not produce advanced platters in-house, it will have to use SDK’s 9th gen PMR media for its upcoming 14 TB HDDs. It is noteworthy that the company’s next-gen nearline hard drives are projected to be helium-filled models. This will enable lower power consumption compared to their existing 10TB products.

Assuming that Toshiba’s HDD roadmap has not been altered since 2016, we can also expect a helium-filled 16 TB nearline drive in late-2018. However, no details about that model are available at this time.

Western Digital has not announced any plans for 14 TB PMR HDDs so far, but the company is committed to PMR evolution (based on its most recent presentation, pages 21 and 49) and it will be a surprise if it does not use its upcoming PMR platters for higher-capacity nearline hard drives. Meanwhile, one of the older Western Digital’s roadmaps (page 58) points to usage of TDMR in 2018. Since the company has ceased development of 10K and 15K HDDs for enterprises, the only candidates for TDMR are nearline hard drives, assuming that the roadmap has not changed.

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WD Adds Helium-Filled 10 TB NAS HDDs to WD Red, WD Red Pro Lineups

WD Adds Helium-Filled 10 TB NAS HDDs to WD Red, WD Red Pro Lineups

Western Digital has announced two new helium-filled hard drives targeting consumer and business NAS applications. The new WD Red and WD Red Pro HDDs increase capacity of WD’s NAS drives to 10 TB, boost their performance and also reduce their power consumption. Therefore, the new drives enable makers of NAS units to increase capacities of their products to 80 TB (or 160TB) while increasing speeds and cutting down power.

After introducing its first hermetically sealed helium-filled NAS and video-surveillance HDDs with 8 TB capacity and six platters last year, Western Digital is refreshing its Red and Purple lineups with more advanced drives offering 10 TB capacity and using seven 1.42 TB platters. The new WD Red and WD Red Pro with 10 TB capacity are based on revamped 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM HelioSeal platforms that can support a higher number of platters. The drives also feature increased areal density and 256 MB of cache, enabling ~17% higher sequential read/write performance compared to its predecessors, as well as a lower power consumption compared to previous-gen helium WD Red hard drives. Other than that, Western Digital does not really disclose the feature set of its platform for helium-filled HDDs for NAS applications.

The WD Pro 10 TB drive is engineered for personal or small business NAS systems with up to eight bays, is optimized for mixed workloads and has a 5400 RPM spindle speed. By contrast, the WD Red Pro 10 TB is aimed at medium business and enterprise-class NAS systems up to 16 bays, which is why the HDD features additional protection against vibrations as well as improved random read performance due to both 7200 RPM spindle speed and firmware tuning.  Just like their predecessors, the new WD Red/WD Red Pro hard drives come with SATA 6 Gbps interface.

Comparison of Western Digital’s Helium-Filled NAS HDDs
  WD Red
WD Red
WD Red Pro
WD Red Pro
Capacity 10 TB 8 TB 10 TB 8 TB
RPM 5400 RPM 7200 RPM
Interface SATA 6 Gbps
DRAM Cache 256 MB 128 MB 256 MB 128 MB
Data Transfer Rate (host to/from drive) 210 MB/s 178 MB/s 240 MB/s 205 MB/s
MTBF 1 million hours
Rated Workload (read and write) 180 TB/year 300 TB/year
Acoustics (Seek) 29 dBA 29 dBA 36 dBA
Power Consumption Sequential read/write 6.2 W 6.4 W 5.7 W 8.3 W
Idle 2.8 W 5.7 W 2.8 W 5.2 W
Sleep 0.5 W 0.7 W 0.5 W 0.7 W
Warranty 3 Years 5 Years
Price (as of May 2017) $494 $266.25 $533 $359.99
$0.049 per GB $0.033 per GB $0.05 per GB $0.045 per GB
20 GB per $ 30 GB per $ 18.76 GB per $ 22.2 GB per $

It is interesting to note that WD has improved the power consumption of the 10TB drives over the older 8TB drives. We are asking how exactly WD is doing that, as details were not given with the press release.

The 10TB WD Red and 10TB WD Red Pro are available in the U.S. from select retailers and distributors. The WD Red 10 TB is covered by a three-year warranty and has a price tag of $494. The more advanced WD Red Pro 10 TB features a five-year warranty and has a $533 MSRP.

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