Feature Set Comparison

Enterprise hard drives come with features such as real time linear and rotational vibration correction, dual actuators to improve head positional accuracy, multi-axis shock sensors to detect and compensate for shock events and dynamic fly-height technology for increasing data access reliability. For the WD Red units, Western Digital incorporates some features in firmware under the NASware moniker. We have already covered these features in our previous Red reviews. These hard drives also expose some of their interesting firmware aspects through their SATA controller.

A high level overview of the various supported SATA features is provided by HD Tune Pro 5.50

The HGST Ultrastar He6 supports almost all features (except for TRIM - this is obviously not a SSD - and Automatic Acoustic Management - a way to manage the sound levels by adjusting the seek velocity of the heads). The Seagate Enterprise Capacity drive avoids the host protected area and device configuration overlay, as well as the power management features. APM's absence means that the head parking interval can't be set through ATA commands by the NAS OS. Device Configuration Overlay allows for the hard drive to report modified drive parameters to the host. It is not a big concern for most applications. Coming to the WD Red, we find it is quite similar to the Ultrastar He6 in the support department, except for the absence of APM (Advanced Power Management).

We get a better idea of the supported features using FinalWire's AIDA64 system report. The table below summarizes the extra information generated by AIDA64 (that is not already provided by HD Tune Pro).

Supported Features
  WD Red Seagate Enterprise Capacity v4 HGST Ultrastar He6
DMA Setup Auto-Activate Supported, Disabled Supported, Disabled Supported, Disabled
Extended Power Conditions Not Supported Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled
Free-Fall Control Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
General Purpose Logging Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled
In-Order Data Delivery Not Supported Not Supported Supported, Disabled
NCQ Priority Information Supported Not Supported Supported
Phy Event Counters Supported Supported Supported
Release Interrupt Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported
Sense Data Reporting Not Supported Supported, Disabled Supported, Disabled
Software Settings Preservation Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled Supported, Enabled
Streaming Supported, Disabled Not Supported Supported, Enabled
Tagged Command Queuing Not Supported Not Supported Not Supported

Interesting aspects are highlighted in the above table. While the two enterprise drives support the extended power conditions (EPC) extensions for fine-grained power management, the Red lineup doesn't. NCQ priority information adds priority to data in complex workload environments. While WD and HGST have it enabled on their drives, Seagate seems to believe it is unnecessary. The NCQ streaming feature enables isochronous data transfers for multimedia streams while also improving performance of lower priority transfers. This feature could be very useful for media server and video editing use-cases. The Seagate enterprise drive doesn't support it, and, surprisingly, the Red seems to have disabled it by default.

6 TB Face-Off: The Contenders Performance - Raw Drives
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  • brettinator - Friday, March 18, 2016 - link

    I realize this is years old, but I did indeed use raw i/o on a 10TB fried RAID 6 volume to recover copious amounts of source code.
  • andychow - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    @extide, you've just shown that you don't understand how it works. You're NEVER going to have checksum errors if your data is being corrupted by your RAM. That's why you need ECC RAM, so errors don't happen "up there".

    You might have tons of corrupted files, you just don't know it. 4 GB of RAM has a 96% percent chance of having a bit error in three days without ECC RAM.
  • alpha754293 - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Yeah....while the official docs say you "need" ECC, the truth is - you really don't. It's nice, and it'll help to mitigate like bit-flip errors and stuff like that, but I mean...by that point, you're already passing PBs of data through the array/zpool before it's even noticable. And part of that has to do with the fact that it does block-by-block checksumming, which means that given the nature of how people run their systems, it'll probably reduce your ERRs even further, but you might be talking like a third of what's already an INCREDIBLY small percentage.

    A system will NEVER complain if you have ECC RAM (and have ECC enabled, because my servers have ECC RAM, but I've always disabled ECC in the BIOS), but it isn't going to NOT startup if you have ECC RAM, but with ECC disabled.

    And so far, I haven't seen ANY discernable evidence that suggests that ECC is an absolute must when running ZFS, and you can SAY that I am wrong, but you will also need to back that statement up with evidence/data.
  • AlmaFather - Monday, July 28, 2014 - link

    Some information:

  • Samus - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    The problem with power saving "green" style drives is the APM is too aggressive. Even Seagate, who doesn't actively manufacture a "green" drive at a hardware level, uses firmware that sets aggressive APM values in many low end and external versions of their drives, including the Barracuda XT.

    This is a completely unacceptable practice because the drives are effectively self-destructing. Most consumer drives are rated at 250,000 load/unload cycles and I've racked up 90,000 cycles in a matter of MONTHS on drives with heavy IO (seeding torrents, SQL databases, exchange servers, etc)

    HDPARM is a tool that you can send SMART commands to a drive and disable APM (by setting the value to 255) overriding the firmware value. At least until the next power cycle...
  • name99 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    I don't know if this is the ONLY problem.
    My most recent (USB3 Seagate 5GB) drive consistently exhibited a strange failure mode where it frequently seemed to disconnect from my Mac. Acting on a hunch I disabled the OSX Energy Saver "Put hard disks to sleep when possible" setting, and the problem went away. (And energy usage hasn't gone up because the Seagate drive puts itself to sleep anyway.)

    Now you're welcome to read this as "Apple sux, obviously they screwed up" if you like. I'd disagree with that interpretation given that I've connected dozens of different disks from different vendors to different macs and have never seen this before. What I think is happening is Seagate is not handling a race condition well --- something like "Seagate starts to power down, half-way through it gets a command from OSX to power down, and it mishandles this command and puts itself into some sort of comatose mode that requires power cycling".

    I appreciate that disk firmware is hard to write, and that power management is tough. Even so, it's hard not to get angry at what seems like pretty obvious incompetence in the code coupled to an obviously not very demanding test regime.
  • jay401 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    > Completely unsurprised here, I've had nothing but bad luck with any of those "intelligent power saving" drives that like to park their heads if you aren't constantly hammering them with I/O.

    I fixed that the day i bought mine with the wdidle utility. No more excessive head parking, no excessive wear. I've had 3 2TB Greens and 2 3TB Greens with no issues so far (thankfully). Currently running a pair of 4TB Reds, but have not seen any excessive head parking showing up in the SMART data with those.
  • chekk - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Yes, I just test all new drives thoroughly for a month or so before trusting them. My anecdotal evidence across about 50 drives is that they are either DOA, fail in the first month or last for years. But hey, YMMV.
  • icrf - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    My anecdotal experience is about the same, but I'd extend the early death window a few more months. I don't know that I've gone through 50 drives, but I've definitely seen a couple dozen, and that's the pattern. One year warranty is a bit short for comfort, but I don't know that I care much about 5 years over 3.
  • Guspaz - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    I've had a bunch of 2TB greens in a ZFS server (15 of them) for years and none of them have failed. I expected them to fail, and I designed the setup to tolerate two to four of them failing without data loss, but... nothing.

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