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Seagate 6TB Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 RAID Analysis

Seagate 6TB Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 RAID Analysis
The new crop of 6TB HDDs offer outstanding capacity and a big boost in performance. Today we analyze performance of eight Seagate 6TB HDDs in a 48TB array.
By: Paul Alcorn | RAID/HBA in IT/Datacenter | Posted: Sep 26, 2014 1:10 am





The continued data explosion has necessitated a mix of new and old technologies to address the increasing pressure on IT departments to handle a massive influx of data. Tape has spent fifty years in the datacenter, but it is still a mainstay for bulk backup of archival data. Moving data off to slow storage tiers is usually a good fit for cold and low-value data. Other, more unconventional methods, such as Blu-ray archival, have even made an appearance to provide economical archival storage alternatives.


Shuffling cold data off to slow archival tiers is an easy fix, but storing large amounts of active data has been the biggest challenge in the datacenter. Until recently, the rate of HDD capacity increases have slowed, leaving the undesirable option of simply continuing to scale up to meet storage demands. The 6TB Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 (evaluated here) is a welcome sight for those facing the challenge of meeting the demand for increased data storage capability. Instead of scaling storage up by adding more racks of 4TB HDDs, administrators can now simply slip in new 6TB drives to realize an instant 50% capacity boost.


Storing data in parity RAID sets has only become more painful as HDD capacity has grown. Excessive rebuild times can drag into days, or even weeks in extreme cases, and can nearly mathematically assure the eventuality of a bit error during rebuild. The reality of scuttling entire arrays during rebuild led the exodus from RAID 5 to RAID 6. Unfortunately, both RAID techniques suffer performance penalties, and the extra layer of protection from RAID 6 only exacerbates performance issues.


A slew of innovative techniques have sprung up to ease the transition to larger volumes, among them object storage and advanced erasure coding. These innovative techniques represent the path forward for large capacity arrays, but the current implementations have performance implications of their own. There will be a slow uptake until more refined object storage and erasure coding techniques, such as SSD metadata caching, become mainstream. Object-storage Ethernet based-HDDs are also waiting in the wings, such as Seagate's Kinetic architecture, which offers the bonus of drive-to-drive data migration, among other benefits.


The Seagate v4 supports RAID Rebuild. RAID Rebuild is part of the SAS standard now supported by RAID controller vendors. RAID Rebuild enables communication between the drive and the RAID controller to perform surgical rebuilds in lieu of rebuilding the entire array. The enhanced speed of the Seagate v4 also helps speed the rebuild process.




Another attractive feature of the Enterprise Capacity v4 is its conservative power specifications. The v4 remains very competitive on a Watts-per-TB basis, despite an incremental increase in power consumption. Keeping data readily accessible is always going to incur a TCO overhead, but enhanced sleep and idle states delivered via Seagate's PowerChoice Technology help minimize the blow for sporadic workloads. We will include more details about PowerChoice on the following page.


A simple eight-drive array can now offer an impressive 48TB of capacity, and the Seagate v4 is available in 6Gb/s SATA and 12Gb/s SAS versions to accommodate varying requirements. The challenges of parity-based RAID has led to increasing use of RAID 10 in the datacenter because it does not suffer the same rebuilding pains. Today we are forgoing presentation of the results of our RAID 5 testing, which was well within expectations, to highlight performance in RAID 10 and RAID 0 environments. Let's dive in, and take a look at the results of our testing.



PRICING: You can find the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 (6TB) for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.


United States: The Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 (6TB) retails for $472.49 at Amazon.


Canada: The Seagate Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 (6TB) retails for CDN$730.97 at Amazon Canada.

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