Today Western Digital released a new line of drives, the Western Digital Red series, designed for network attached storage (NAS) applications. In the press release WD highlights a few key points. The new Red series hard drives are meant for 1-5 drive NAS enclosures which is a common system size for this site’s users. Let’s take a look at the specs and discuss the new drives using some of what we know about the industry.
WD Red Series Discussion
Targeted for small NAS enclosures from vendors such as QNAP, Drobo and others, the Western Digital Red series drives look to focus on a few key points, the support of the ATA Streaming specification and the ability to deliver up to 150MB/s with low heat and power consumption.
Western Digital also touts the 1 million hour MTBF as a third better than standard drives. WD also cites support for small RAID environments, so I do want to keep an eye out for TLER handling. Notable is the lack of LSI, Adaptec and others from the initial supported systems list and instead only launching with software RAID partners. If in fact WD did opt for disabling the heroic recovery functions that drop drives from RAID controllers, the Red series drives would be significantly more interesting. With a BER of 10^14 these are clearly not at the same level as we see from consumer drives not enterprise spindle drives.
One other major consideration is whether the WD Red edition drives share component with the WD Green or Blue lines. I have done consulting engagements at several storage vendors, and the industry is generally focused on driving volumes. Both the WD-Hitachi and Seagate-Samsung acquisitions, as well as historical deals such as the Seagate-Maxtor deal were primarily about getting volume and customer lists. My sense is that the 1-4 drive NAS market is way too small to support a full hardware design. WD was careful to position the Red series as a 1-5 drive NAS product. Typically installations with 20+ drives will use nearline SAS drives because moving from SATA to SAS interfaces does provide a benefit in higher I/O scenarios and those drives are more profitable for Western Digital and Seagate. If the drive does share components with the WD Green series, I would want to look at how it performs in loads other than media streaming and backups as there have been many reports of the Green series drives having issues with load cycle counts.
WD Red Series Specifications
Here are the Western Digital Red series specifications. I do hope to see these in action soon.