Introduction and Testbed Setup

Western Digital (WD) introduced hard drives specifically targeted towards NAS systems under the Red branding last month. Jason had some initial coverage at launch time. WD claimed to have put in a number of firmware features and some additional hardware aspects in the Red lineup to make it suitable for NAS usage.

WD touted the following main points

  • Less aggressive head parking (no IntelliPark feature)
  • Configurable Time Limited Error Recovery (TLER), with a default of 7 seconds
  • IntelliPower disk rotation speeds (comparable to Green drives)
  • Vibration reduction mechanism in hardware
  • 3-Yr. warranty and 24x7 phone support

In the next section, we will analyze each of these claims in detail. First, let us take a look at the testbeds. We used the WD Red drives standalone in a PC and also as part of a few SMB / SOHO NAS systems. Our standalone PC testbed was also used for some of the NAS testing. Our Summer 2012 NAS testbed's specifications are provided below:

NAS Benchmarking Testbed Setup [ Summer 2012 ]
Processor Intel i7-3770K CPU - 4C/8T - 3.50GHz, 8MB Cache
Motherboard Asus P8H77-M Pro
OS Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
Secondary Drives Western Digital Red WD30EFRX 3 TB
Corsair Performance 3 Series™ P3-128 128 GB SSD (Offline in Host OS)
Memory G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO CAS 7-7-7-21
PCI-E Slot Quad-Port GbE Intel ESA-I340
Case Antec VERIS Fusion Remote Max
Power Supply Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W
Host Operating System Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise
.

A Windows 7 virtual machine was set up using Hyper-V with the following configuration

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 : Guest OS
Processor Single Physical Core of Intel i7-3770K
OS Hard Drive VHD File on Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB
Secondary Hard Drive Corsair Performance 3 Series™ P3-128 GB SSD
Memory 1 GB

The following NAS units were used for testing the WD Red drives in RAID-1 configuration.

  • LaCie 2big NAS
  • Netgear NV+ v2
  • Synology DS211+

The drives were benchmarked against 2 x 3TB Seagate Barracuda 7200rpm drives that were bundled with the LaCie 2big NAS.

An important aspect of NAS systems that we haven't covered in detail is the effect of prolonged usage and how differently the NAS performs when it is close to full capacity. Towards this, we also used our build-in-progress NAS testbed to stress the WD Red drives in the Synology D211+. The details of this separate testbed and methodology are described in a later section.

 

WD Red Lineup: Differentiating Features
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  • haukionkannel - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I supose that RED allso did run in cooler temperatures than the reference drives? It should have meaning when using NAS 14/7...
    Could you measure the temperature of drives and temperature of the air inside the NAS box. It would be interesting to read.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    The temperatures inside the NAS should be roughly proportional to the power consumed at the wall. I have the power tables in the review. WD consumes approx. 15W when the Seagate equipped units consume 21W -- so the temperatures should have a corresponding decrease. Obviously, it is possible that the fans inside the NAS would be working at higher speeds to cool down the interior ; Say, with the Seagates, the fan operates at 3000 rpm, they might need to operate at only 2000 rpm with the WDs to keep the interior at the same temperature. I believe these external factors may result in skewed results and not properly reflect the fact that the Red runs cooler.

    By the way, you might be interested in what WD claims as a cooler running drive in the marketing slide reproduced on this page : http://www.servethehome.com/western-digital-releas...
    Reply
  • amikey - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    FWIW, 2 3TB RED running in DS212J for the last couple weeks - 36/40C / 97/104F

    Is that hot ? In truth, where they are could be better ventilated - shared space with a PS3.

    Image:
    http://imgur.com/EJepQ
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    If they hold stable at that temperature, you should not be worried. The usual 'cutoff' temperature is around 55C for most hard drives. If your HDD reports more than 50C itself, I would suggest taking steps to ventilate your setup better. Reply
  • Samus - Saturday, August 18, 2012 - link

    I agree, anything under 45c is really good, anything over 50c I get worried. Reply
  • Zds - Monday, August 27, 2012 - link

    Remember that per Google data, 37..46C is the optimal range; going either below or above lowers reliability: http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_conte...

    This means your drive is cooler a bit too well, if anything.
    Reply
  • Konraden - Saturday, July 13, 2013 - link

    That's not really accurate. Google mentions that temperature deltas "as low as 15C" affected drive reliablility.

    They apparently were more concerned with the change in temperature of the drives than the average operating temperature. If your drive is being shocked, booting in arctic and being set next to an open flame, you're going to have a lot more issues than if it ran all day at 45C.

    [Per cited research]"One of our key findings has been the lack of a con-
    sistent pattern of higher failure rates for higher temper-
    ature drives or for those drives at higher utilization lev-
    els. Such correlations have been repeatedly highlighted
    by previous studies, but we are unable to confirm them
    by observing our population. Although our data do not
    allow us to conclude that there is no such correlation,
    it provides strong evidence to suggest that other effects
    may be more prominent in affecting disk drive reliabil-
    ity in the context of a professionally managed data center
    deployment."

    Google's team goes on to say that drives showing SMART errors are very significantly more likely to fail, but most of their failed drives _did not_ show SMART errors prior to failing.
    Reply
  • sparks.nl - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    I just bought 4x3TB WD Red drives. It's just too bad that the 24/7 number (from the WD site) doesn't exit. Ican't even call the number to report a defective drive (living in the Netherlands).
    I would have thought that a big company had better support. What a bummer.
    Reply
  • Mixers - Monday, August 20, 2012 - link

    Had a look myself since I too live in the netherlands.

    Found this and hope it helps.

    Netherlands, The

    0080085584253

    Monday-Thursday
    Friday

    9 am - 8 pm CET
    9 am - 6 pm CET

    This is the network support number however they will provide RED support.

    I already had a go at them for not having a dutch number... They did say they were looking into it.
    Reply
  • cknobman - Friday, August 17, 2012 - link

    My current server has been running 2 X 2TB WD Green drives since 2009 24x7 without a problem.

    When one (or both) of those drives takes a dump I will definitely look at the Red line.
    Reply

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