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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  • Wixman666 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    The WD Green and other drives fail more often because they are not intended for NAS use. They lack the anti-vibration mechanism, so they shake apart.
  • anandtech_user01 - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Given my own previous experiences, I wouldn't trust high density 3.5" drives from any manufacturer period. Of course, lots of other people do (or somehow feel forced to). As for WD RED, they can be better than the competition in respect to being able to switch off the head-parking every 10 seconds (with wdidle3.exe DOS utility). Wheras I've got 2 Seagate Momentus 7200.2/4 and that's impossible with them. Looking at the specs for the 2.5" RED it's pretty much just a re-branded WD Black from the previous year. And those ones have been out for a few years, and are reliable / do have a good reputation. Wheras I've heard that the 3.5" RED something more like a re-worked / tweaked 3.5" WD Green. Not so sure about those ones.
  • kmi187 - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Anecdotal evidence, while it should not be discarded, is rather irrelevant since the scale is rather low. Now if you look at some statistics from data-centers it shows seagate as a clear winner when it come to failure rates. In other words, they aren't doing too well.

    This data is much more reliable since it's data from a lot of hard drives, so it paints a much clearer picture.

    I build custom pc's for a computer store and it's just not fun when you have kickass system that went out the door and 2 months later you have to tell the client, yeah sorry man but the drive died, we are going to have to reinstall your pc. If that starts to happen on regular basis, you know you have to look for alternatives.
  • romrunning - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Why wouldn't you build w/SSDs as your base drive, and only use spinning disks as secondary storage? It would seem that you would have better reliability that way.
  • asmian - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Agree! It clearly isn't a "kickass" custom system if there's no SSD as boot drive. I pity these customers if they are being sold something as "special" without that as a basic building block these days. :( Please tell us where you work so we can avoid your store.
  • erple2 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    Because managing two disks is a total waste of time and resources. If you're already going to a shop to have a machine built for you, then you've realized that your time is worth more to you than the inconvenience or rolling your own machine. Therefore, it stands to reason that you would also not want to be bothered with having to juggle installations to ssd vs. HDD. I have a setup like that in a laptop, and I hate having to figure out what applications I should put on the ssd vs the HDD. Just give me something that works. That and my time is worth far more than the cost spent trying to juggle applications on and off the ssd when it fills up.

    That having been said, ssd is pretty cheap now, so I'm not sure why you wouldn't put in a 500 gb to 1 tb ssd in a higher end build.
  • Samus - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    I actually haven't had a drive from Seagate, WD or Hitachi fail in years. The last one was a 7200.10 1.5TB (~2008)

    I have more WD Red's in deployment than any other drive and they've all been great. However, the largest capacity I've rolled out are 2TB models.
  • iLovefloss - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Their older Barracuda drivers sure did.


    Of course, they gotten better.


    Still, no matter how you look at it, those "Green" drives tend to fail more often than their other counterparts.
  • cm2187 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    Same here. A bunch of 4TB Red and never managed to make them work in a hardware RAID array (LSI and Adaptec). Same symptoms as in the article. Drive marked as failed in the array but works well as standalone. Still had some problems though much less in a soft array (synology). Hitachi desktop drives behave much better in a hardware RAID.
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, July 25, 2014 - link

    I've been running Reds (mix of 2TB and 3TB, as I'm slowly migrating capacity) in an HP SmartArray P222 in an HP Microserver Gen8 for some time now. 6TB RAID-5 array and no failures.

    I will admit, I haven't tried the 4TB models for RAID, but do have one in a USB3 MacAlly external enclosure for backing up the box (Server 2012R2 Standard).

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