Western Digital has a new 20TB hard drive. Specifically, the WD Red Pro 20TB drive is targeting a segment down market from the company’s previous efforts. With the new release, we get a new capacity point at a lower price (~$500 USD) than with the previous generation.
WD Red Pro 20TB Launched
The new WD Red Pro model, named the WD201KFGX, is important not just because of its capacity. The drive is part of the “Red Pro” line, as distinguished from the traditional WD Red line. STH tested and found that WD’s surreptitious swapping of SMR into its WD Red line was causing serious performance issues. As a result of user backlash, the company launched the WD Red Plus line which is CMR-based, and maintains the CMR-based WD Pro line that this is part of. At STH, we do not recommend standard WD Red SMR drives for our users’ NAS applications due to potential issues.
The new drives offer 1M hour MTBF and only a 300TB/ year workload rate. WD defines “Workload Rate is defined as the amount of user data transferred to or from the hard drive.” For most applications that is not an issue, but it means the drives can only be read or written 15 times per year. Given the capacities and use cases, writing that much is unlikely to be an issue, but we wanted to quickly mention this. The drive has the same workload rate applies to the 2TB drive which would have 150 entire drive reads or writes a year. What is becoming abundantly clear is that WD does not have increasing faith in its hard drives. For some context, one can do 20TB of transfer on the drive in less than 24 hours so it takes about two weeks per year to hit that total. In other words, these are roughly 4% duty cycle drives. [Edit: Math was wrong on the first one, calculated 1 drive capacity instead of total 300TB time.]
Here are the key specs for the new drive:
One can see the 300TB/ year workload rating on this 20TB drive. Also somewhat interesting is that the press announcement discussed OptiNAND like the company’s other ePMR 20TB drives, but it is not in the updated product brief.
It is great that we have a new capacity, but we are now in the era where WD’s rated workloads seem very low. These are supposed to be “Pro” drives and higher-end models in the company’s lines meant for 24×7 operation in higher-end and denser NAS units. This is another step the company is taking to de-rate its “premium” drive segment. For most users, this will not be an issue, but we urge WD to update this spec in the future.