We don't hear a lot from hard disk drive companies these days, at least not from the actual drive side. Seagate recently released updated the Guardian Series models with the 2018 update. The annual update is similar to what happened last year, a capacity increase and another step away from the competition.
The Guardian Series splits into three consumer-facing product lines, Barracuda, IronWolf, and Skyhawk. Today we're looking at the IronWolf line that actually splits again with Pro and non-Pro models. Now that we got past the complicated breakdown on what we're actually talking about today, we can talk about what's new.
14TB with eight platters is the news this month. It's a 2TB increase over the 12TB released last year but there is a little more to the story. The first thing to know is that Seagate got sick of everyone claiming drive failures and overbuilt the Guardian Series products. That's not to say the Helium-filled drives can't fail, it's just very rare when they do.
Overbuilding these drives has allowed Seagate to quickly ramp up capacities. Not only have we seen this in practice, but also in roadmaps and hardware on display that points to clear progress to 20TB and beyond.
As we mentioned, IronWolf splits into two paths based on the number of drives in your system. The base IronWolf series features algorithms to combat vibration in systems with up to eight drives. Going above eight drives in the system requires the IronWolf Pro. This series supports between one and twenty-four drives in a single system.
Both series use 7,200 RPM platters and this is an important fact. Seagate's larger IronWolf drives all use 7,200 RMP platters when many of the other companies still use 5,400 RPM platters on the lower series, like the WD Red (5,400) and WD Red Pro (7,200). Both drives also use a large 256MB DRAM buffer in the 14TB capacity.
The differences don't stop there, at least on the specification sheet. The information released by Seagate states the 14TB IronWolf Pro delivers up to 250 MB/s sequential read and write performance. The base IronWolf only delivers up to 210 MB/s (per the specifications) but we found both to be equal in our desktop testing.
Seagate's AgileArray technology is a suite of features designed to provide a better user experience. Here's how the company describes the features:
NAS-optimized hard drive Iron:
Wolf Health Management in compatible NAS systems continuously helps to safeguard the health of your data
Drive balance with Rotational Vibration (RV) sensors manages multi-bay vibration for long-term consistent performance and reliability. RAID performance optimized that maximizes responsiveness and uptime with NAS-aware Error Recovery Control
Advanced power management saves energy and delivers the right power at the right time
The features go beyond the specification sheet. For instance, Seagate attaches the spindle to both the top and bottom of the case to improve stability. The drives also support the ATA-8 streaming command set for increased performance with large sequential transfers. The technology allows the IronWolf to handle up to 64 data streams simultaneously.
AgileArray also features optimized power management that provides a faster response time while also reducing power consumption.
Pricing, Warranty, And Endurance
The IronWolf 14TB sells today for $499 per drive. The IronWolf Pro model with support for up to 24-drives in a system/server sells today for $569.99 each.
The base model ships with a standard 3-year warranty that includes support to write up to 180 TB per year and carries a 1 million hour MTBF. The 14TB Pro increases the warranty to 5-years and increases the endurance to a massive 300 TB per year. The MTBF increases to 1.2 million hours.
A Closer Look
The new 14TB series doesn't have the same industrial appearance as the 10TB and 12TB drives. This is mainly due to the black painted case that reminds us of older HDDs. Seagate assures us the new drives are as robust as the previous generation. The drives still use an aluminum chassis.
The two halves of the drive were welded together just like the previous generation. The helps to keep the Helium inside, the gas that makes us talk funny is also the same gas that reduces resistance against the platters and allows for a more stable rotation.
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