In the past, many have opined that the advent of the cloud was going to gut the NAS market, but a multitude of factors have risen to speed the deployment of NAS into numerous applications. The NAS market has been experiencing explosive growth lately, and is projected to continue its meteoric rise well into the future.
Metered connections, slow download speeds, and privacy concerns have conspired to slow the growth of the cloud, while the capabilities of the humble NAS have expanded tremendously. Today's NAS systems are used in the home and in an increasing number of SOHO and datacenter applications. The expansive NAS deployment into a multitude of applications has created a blurry product segmentation line that WD has addressed with a whole family of products.
For consumer and SOHO applications, more customers are opting to purchase diskless NAS units that provide several benefits. Purchasing HDD's separately is usually a more economical route and allows for flexibility in drive selection. Users can also purchase storage as needed, creating a pay-as-you-go pricing structure. The Red series was developed specifically to cater to this user base, with the noticeable exception of a capacity point above 3TB.
WD addresses this with the release of the new 4TB WD Red. The Red series is geared for use in 1-5 drive bay NAS or RAID applications. WD also provides the Se for use in 6-12 bay NAS, and the Re and Xe drives for entry to high-end datacenter use. The Red now comes in capacities of 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and 4TB in a 3.5" form factor. There is also the inclusion of a new 2.5" SFF drive for users with 750GB and 1TB capacities.
The WD Red features a SATA 6Gb/s connection and 64MB of cache. While typical HDDs sport an actual RPM rating, the Red series merely lists the speed as IntelliPower, though many speculate it spins between 5,400 and 5,900 RPM. This lower platter speed dramatically reduces power consumption.
The Red series also offers a multitude of ingredients that tailors them specifically for NAS usage. An adjustable TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) is set for seven seconds as a default, and prevents the drive from being dropped in the event of an error, which triggers a rebuild mode in RAID usage. IntelliPark (head parking) is disabled as Red HDD's are designed for 24x7 use.
NASware 2.0 improves performance, reliability, and protects the drive from losing data in the event of a power loss. Vibration is introduced from the other neighboring drives in multi-bay NAS units, and can reduce the lifespan of the HDD and degrade performance. 3D Active Balance Plus is an enhanced dual-plane balance technology that reduces vibration and noise in multi-drive systems.
This mixture of NAS-specific features creates an HDD that fills the gap between desktop and nearline drives. Extensive compatibility testing with all major NAS vendors ensures compatibility with nearly all NAS units, which can be a dicey proposition with desktop HDD's. An increased MTBF of 1,000,000 hours and a three-year warranty wrap up the features of the Red Series, let's take a look where it stands in the WD family of products.