Seagate Enterprise Capacity Constellation ES.3 Enterprise HDD Review

Seagate's Enterprise Capacity Constellation ES.3 hard disk drive offers a solution for high capacity requirements and 24x7 bulk data storage.

@paulyalcorn
Published Wed, Aug 14 2013 9:02 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:00 PM CST
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Seagate

Introduction

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The Seagate Enterprise Capacity Constellation ES.3 provides a new enterprise-class SATA 6Gb/s 7200K HDD in a 3.5" form factor. These sixth-generation HDDs from Seagate are geared for those with the need for large, reliable bulk storage. The ES.3 is offered in capacities of 1TB, 2TB, 3TB, and the 4TB we are evaluating today.

The Constellation ES.3 delivers bulk storage for the continuing expansion of the cloud. Seagate is addressing a key need for expanded capacity in the bulk storage market, with a projection of more than 60% of storage delivered for cloud applications by 2020. This is a vast increase from the 25% shipped into cloud applications in 2012.

The Constellation ES.3 is available in either SAS or SATA flavors to address two different sectors of the market. The SATA variant addresses the need for 24x7 energy-efficient data access. This economical version will perform well for bulk storage of data in replicated and RAID environments.

The SAS version of the Constellation ES.3 is designed for mission critical environments that require the High Availability (HA) features offered by the SAS interface, such as dual-port, multi-path and failover technologies. By supplying both interfaces, Seagate allows for a bulk storage offering catering to multiple use cases.

The Constellation ES.3 provides higher performance than its Constellation ES.2 predecessor, with a jump from a sustained data rate of 155 MB/s to 175 MB/s. This 11% jump in performance comes from several improvements in the architecture of the HDD. A jump from 64MB of DDR2 cache up to 128MB also contributes to provide an additional incremental increase in performance. The Constellation ES.3 features an areal density of 578 compared to the density of 444 in the precious generation, enabling a whopping 152TB of storage per square foot in multi-drive deployments.

In conjunction with enhanced error correction, super-parity, and end-to-end SAS-based data integrity, the reliability increases from an MTBF of 1.2 million hours with the Constellation ES.2 to 1.4 million hours for the Constellation ES.3. Seagate has also increased the rotational vibration tolerance of the ES.3 to ensure reliability in multi-drive chassis solutions.

The SATA versions of the ES.3 offer standard encryption and the SAS versions also offer FIPS (140-2 compliant) as an extra layer of data encryption. In the worst-case scenario, users can also utilize Seagate's Instant Secure Erase functionality. This feature also allows for easy repurposing or retirement of ES.3 HDDs.

Providing these robust features in an economical solution requires a low power threshold. The ES.3 offers up an average power consumption of 10.68W through a blend of technologies that lower the overall power consumption. Seagate's Power Choice feature enables T-10 compliant power management. With the correct tuning, this can allow for a whopping 90% power reduction in some environments.

Constellation ES.3 Specifications

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The Constellation ES.3 comes in a standard 3.5" form factor in capacities of 1, 2, 3 and 4TB in both SAS and SATA varieties. The ES.3 1TB features two platters and three heads, the 2TB has three platters and five heads, the 3TB features four platters and five heads, and finally the 4TB version features a total of five platters and 10 heads.

The ES.3 delivers sustained speeds of 175 MB/s, an average latency of 4.16ms, and 128MB of cache. T10-compliant Seagate PowerChoice technology enables users to tailor systems for optimal performance and power usage.

The ES.3 implements ramp load technology and a humidity sensor to maximize system availability, enhanced error correction, super-parity, and end-to-end SAS-based data integrity.

The average operating power for the 4TB SATA model we are testing today weighs in at 11.27W. The ES.3 sports an AFR (Annualized Failure Rate) of 0.63%, an MTBF of 1.4 million hours and a five year warranty. The Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read is rated at one sector per 10E15.

Constellation ES.3 Internals

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The Seagate Enterprise Capacity Constellation ES.3 comes in a standard 3.5" form factor. The components face into the body of the drive to facilitate heat transfer into the case, which acts as a large heat sink.

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Removing the PCB reveals a foam padding, drive controller and drive motor controller components. We can observe the two metal squares on the bottom of the HDD case that transfer the heat from the thermal pads into the case of the HDD.

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The Winbond chip is a 128MB DDR2 component for caching, a Smooth chip to control the drive motor, and a LSI drive controller.

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The Constellation ES.3 features a standard 6Gb/s SATA port.

Test System and Methodology

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We utilize a new approach to HDD and SSD storage testing for our Enterprise Test Bench, designed specifically to target long-term performance with a high level of granularity.

Many testing methods record peak and average measurements during the test period. These average values give a basic understanding of performance, but fall short in providing the clearest view possible of I/O QoS (Quality of Service).

'Average' results do little to indicate the performance variability experienced during actual deployment. The degree of variability is especially pertinent, as many applications can hang or lag as they wait for I/O requests to complete. This testing methodology illustrates performance variability, and includes average measurements, during the measurement window.

While under load, all storage solutions deliver variable levels of performance. While this fluctuation is normal, the degree of variability is what separates enterprise storage solutions from typical client-side hardware. Providing ongoing measurements from our workloads with one-second reporting intervals illustrates product differentiation in relation to I/O QOS. Scatter charts give readers a basic understanding of I/O latency distribution without directly observing numerous graphs.

Consistent latency is the goal of every storage solution, and measurements such as Maximum Latency only illuminate the single longest I/O received during testing. This can be misleading, as a single 'outlying I/O' can skew the view of an otherwise superb solution. Standard Deviation measurements consider latency distribution, but do not always effectively illustrate I/O distribution with enough granularity to provide a clear picture of system performance. We use histograms to illuminate the latency of every single I/O issued during our test runs.

We measure power consumption during test runs. This provides measurements in time-based fashion, with results every second, to illuminate the behavior of power consumption in steady state conditions. Power consumption can cost more over the life of the device than the initial acquisition price of the hardware itself. This significantly affects the TCO of the storage solution. We also present IOPS-to-Watts measurements to highlight the efficiency of the storage solution.

Our test pool features HDDs of varying speed and capacity, so it is important to bear this in mind when viewing results. We conduct our tests over the full LBA range to allow each HDD to highlight its top performance. In some cases, this approach can give slower speed, and higher capacity, HDDs a slight advantage in test results due to a longer 'dwell' time on outer tracks. Typically, this is not a concern when testing HDDs of similar speeds and capacities. The first page of results will provide the 'key' to understanding and interpreting our new test methodology.

4K Random Read/Write

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Each QD for every parameter tested includes 300 data points (five minutes of one second reports) to illustrate the degree of performance variability. The line for each QD represents the average speed reported during the five-minute interval.

4K random speed measurements are an important metric when comparing drive performance, as the hardest type of file access for any storage solution to master is small-file random. One of the most sought-after performance specifications, 4K random performance is a heavily marketed figure.

The Constellation ES.3 leads the pack easily with an average of 190 IOPS at QD256.

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The ES.3 falls into a slightly higher performance envelope than the competing solutions and with less variability, averaging 205 IOPS at QD256 in our 4K write testing. The Western Digital SE trails closely behind with an average of 198 IOPS.

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Our write percentage testing illustrates the varying performance of each solution with mixed workloads. The 100% column to the right is a pure write workload of the 4K file size, and 0% represents a pure 4K read workload.

The Constellation ES.3 outperforms the other HDD's in this test, and exhibits excellent speed in the read heavy percentages.

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The Constellation ES.3 edges out the other competitors with the best latency, providing 59,892 I/O's (98%) at 100-200ms, and the remaining 1219 I/O's (1.99%) in the 200-400ms range.

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We record the power consumption measurements during our test run at QD256. The Constellation ES.3 averages 8.84 Watts, well below the Toshiba offering.

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IOPS to Watts measurements are generated from data recorded during our test. The Constellation ES.3 delivers an average of 26 IOPS per Watt for 4K random writes, and 24 IOPS per Watt for 4K random read access.

8K Random Read/Write

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8K random read and write speed is a metric that is not tested for consumer use, but for enterprise environments this is an important aspect of performance. With several different workloads relying heavily upon 8K performance, we include this as a standard with each evaluation. Many of our Server Emulations below will also test 8K performance with various mixed read/write workloads.

The Constellation ES.3 delivers an average of 190 IOPS at QD256, again exhibiting excellent random read speed.

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The average 8K random write speed of the Constellation ES.3 is 199 IOPS at QD256.

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The Constellation ES.3 again leverages its tremendous random read speed to best the competition in this test.

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The Constellation ES.3 delivers 97.66% of I/O's (58,541) at 100-200ms, and the remaining 1,401 I/O's (2.3%) at 200-400ms.

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Power consumption for the Constellation ES.3 averages 10.91 Watts during the test period.

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The Constellation ES.3 delivers solid performance with an average of 18 IOPS per Watt in 8K random write, and 17 IOPS per Watt for 8K random read access.

128K Sequential Read/Write

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The 128K sequential speeds reflect the maximum sequential throughput of the HDD using a realistic file size encountered in an enterprise scenario.

The Constellation ES.3 averages 178 MB/s at sequential read, easily outpacing the other competitors.

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The Constellation ES.3 averages an impressive 175 MB/s in sequential write speed; again leading the pack easily with sequential data.

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The Constellation ES.3 has very high performance in pure read and write environments, but falls to the other competitors in our mixed read/write workloads.

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The Constellation ES.3 offers up 99.10% of requests in the 20-40ms range, delivering a consistent level of performance.

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The ES.3 averages 9.85 Watts during sequential write testing.

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The Constellation ES.3 provides 17 MB/s per Watt for 128K sequential write and 17 MB/s per Watt for sequential read.

Database/OLTP and Webserver

Database/OLTP

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This test emulates Database and On-Line Transaction Processing (OLTP) workloads. OLTP is in essence the processing of transactions such as credit cards and high frequency trading in the financial sector. Enterprise HDDs are uniquely well suited for the financial sector with their low latency and high random workload performance. Databases are the bread and butter of many enterprise deployments. These are demanding 8K random workloads with a 66% read and 33% write distribution that can bring even the highest performing solutions down to earth.

The Constellation ES.3 averages 201 IOPS at QD256, beating the other entries. The Seagate Enterprise Capacity exhibits tremendous speed in random workloads, easily winning the test.

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The Constellation ES.3 offers up a wide range of access time, much like the other HDDs, but manages to have much of the I/O fall into the more desirable lower latency ranges.

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The Constellation ES.3 averages 10.1 Watts during the test period.

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The ES.3 averages 17.6 IOPS per Watt in our Database/OLTP testing.

Webserver

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The Webserver profile is a read-only test with a wide range of file sizes. Web servers are responsible for generating content for users to view over the internet, much like the very page you are reading. The speed of the underlying storage system has a massive impact on the speed and responsiveness of the server that is hosting the website, and thus the end-user experience.

The Constellation ES.3 averages 187 IOPS at QD256, again leveraging the excellent read performance to win across the board at this test.

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The Constellation ES.3 provides a lower latency threshold than the competing HDD's.

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The ES.3 averages 10.9 Watts during the test.

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The Constellation ES.3 averages 14.99 IOPS per Watt during the measurement window.

Fileserver and Emailserver

Fileserver

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The File Server profile represents typical file server workloads. This profile tests a wide variety of different file sizes simultaneously, with an 80% read and 20% write distribution.

The Constellation ES.3 averages 187 IOPS at QD256, falling behind the Western Digital SE in this test.

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The ES.3 averages 10.6 Watts.

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The ES.3 averages 15 IOPS per Watt during the measurement window.

Emailserver

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The Emailserver profile is a very demanding 8K test with a 50% read and 50% write distribution. This application is indicative of the performance of the solution in heavy write workloads.

The Constellation ES.3 averages 206 IOPS at QD256.

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The Constellation ES.3 falls into a lower latency threshold than the competing solutions.

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The Constellation ES.3 averages 9.59 Watts during the test.

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The ES.3 averages 19.5 IOPS per Watt.

Final Thoughts

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The need for more storage is intensifying every year. It took Seagate 29 years to ship the first billion HDD's, but less than five years later they had delivered the second billion HDDs. With the current staggering pace of 684,462 HDDs daily, it will only be a short time before they ship out their three billionth HDD.

Increases in areal density and the number of platters are helping to increase density and deliver more storage in a power conscious manner, and the T-10 compliant Power Choice technology allows users to tailor systems for optimal performance and power usage. In our power testing, the Constellation ES.3 performed very well, delivering an economical solution that held up well to newer offerings from Seagate's competition.

In performance testing, the Constellation ES.3 performed remarkably well in random workloads, especially in light of its intention for bulk storage. The ES.3 excelled in our 4K and 8K random testing, especially with random read activity. The random read speed of the Constellation ES.3 led the charts by a large margin in the majority of tests.

This excellent read speed also carried through to our workload testing, with the ES.3 dominating the charts for all workloads, with the exception of the Fileserver emulation. This great speed carries over well to the latency under heavy workloads, where the Constellation ES.3 also scored well ahead of its competitors in the majority of tests. The only weakness we observed was the speed of sequential mixed read/write workloads, where the Constellation ES.3 fell behind the other competitors.

The solid behavior in latency and speed metrics provides very consistent performance. This consistency is likely tied to the doubling of DDR2 cache over the previous generation of capacity HDDs. This extra staging area for write activity can help to smooth out performance when data is written down to the platters.

The Constellation ES.3 is available in both SAS and SATA flavors, which allows users to tailor the solution to the needs of their environment. Encryption, and the extra FIPS layer for SAS versions of the HDD, provides users with a means of securing their data. The Seagate Instant Secure Erase functionality rounds out the data security features.

With the HDD market finally returning to pre-flood price levels, pricing is again becoming competitive between the large HDD manufacturers. The Constellation ES.3 is available for a lower price than the Toshiba MGASCAxxx series of HDDs, but is priced higher than the Western Digital SE. The extra bump in speed from the ES.3 will lead many to choose it for their storage solution in demanding environments. The option for a SAS interface is also a welcome addition, and surprisingly commands only a small premium (around $10) for the enhanced functionality of the SAS interface.

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The quest for benchmark world records led Paul further and further down the overclocking rabbit hole. SSDs and RAID controllers were a big part of that equation, allowing him to push performance to the bleeding edge. Finding the fastest and most extreme storage solutions led to experience with a myriad of high-end enterprise devices. Soon testing SSDs and Enterprise RAID controllers at the limits of their performance became Paul's real passion, one that is carried out through writing articles and reviews.

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