The business class NAS segment has traditionally fallen near the boundary between enterprise class and client HDDs. Administrators typically address these workloads with low-intensity enterprise HDDs such as the Western Digital SE. Western Digital has expanded their popular WD Red, for one to eight bay NAS, to include a new Pro offering geared for eight to sixteen bay NAS applications. The WD Red Pro is designed to address nearline storage requirements in business class, SMB, and SME NAS systems with 2TB, 3TB, and 4TB capacity points in the 3.5" form factor.
Western Digital has improved the functionality of NASware 2.0, found in the client Red series, to Revision 3.0. NASware 3.0 is a suite of optimizations that refine the WD Red Pro for more demanding rack-scale environments. One of the key challenges in larger NAS deployments is increased vibration from the larger number of neighboring drives. Previous generation Red drives utilized software to detect vibration by sensing head position changes during operation.
The WD Red Pro features increased hardware-based vibration resistance that starts with StableTrac technology, which fastens the motor shaft at both ends. 3D Active Balance Plus is a dual-plane balance technology that reduces vibration and noise. The WD Red Pro utilizes RAFF (Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward) multi-axis shock sensors to detect rotational and linear vibration. The drive responds to the corresponding data by utilizing its dual actuators to adjust the fly-height and position of the heads over data tracks. These techniques actually generate less vibration for neighboring drives to compensate for by reducing the vibration of the drive itself. This increases the performance and life expectancy of the WD Red Pro in high vibration applications.
NoTouch ramp load technology utilizes a plastic ramp that secures the actuator, so the heads always stay suspended, and never directly touch the platter. This prevents head crashes when the drive is shut down, in a standby state, or during heavy vibration and acceleration.
The 4TB WD Red Pro is a five-platter design that utilizes a 6GB/s SATA connection, and a 64MB cache buffer. The Pro's higher performance is primarily provided by the 7,200 RPM spindle speed. This allows it to outperform the client-oriented NAS drives, which spin at 5,400 to 5,900 RPM. Power consumption is higher due to the increased spindle speed of the WD Red Pro and WD SE. The NAS-specific drives also feature higher load/unload ratings of 600,000 cycles due to the more sporadic workloads in NAS environments. The WD Red Pro and WD SE also sport UBER ratings that are similar to the other competitors in the test pool.
The Red Pro drives feature Advance Format technology, and the adjustable TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery) setting is set for seven seconds as a default. TLER prevents the drive from dropping from the RAID array in the event of an error. After the appointed time, the drive stops attempting to correct the error, and communicates it to the NAS. The RAID code can then use parity data to perform a targeted RAID rebuild, which only repairs the affected data, instead of triggering an entire rebuild cycle.
The original Red drives are tested and validated with a large ecosystem of client NAS manufacturers. The WD Red Pro is tested with tower and rack-level manufacturers to extend that same interoperability guarantee to the eight to sixteen bay NAS space. Strict thermal burn-in processes help reduce infant drive mortality rates, and WD provides an enterprise class five-year warranty. One of the other differentiators is a 24 hour dedicated support line for WD Red Pro users.
The WD SE and WD Red Pro offer higher performance than other NAS-specific HDDs, and share many similar characteristics. Let's get them on the bench, and find the real difference between the two drives.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [WD Red Pro Internals and Specifications]
- Page 3 [Test System and Methodology]
- Page 4 [Benchmarks - 4k Random Read/Write]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks - 8k Random Read/Write]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - 128k Sequential Read/Write]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Database/OLTP and File Server]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - Email Server]
- Page 9 [Final Thoughts]