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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  • ganeshts - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    There is no 6 TB WD Red Pro out in the market. The Pro version tops out at 4 TB (for now) - 800 GB x 5 platters
  • harshw - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    This week I had a LaCie 5Big NAS Pro barf on my 4TB Seagate NAS HDDs. Reformatting and re-testing them with sector scans revealed nothing. But the LaCie would claim that one disk was bad. Of course LaCie also claims the 4TB NAS HDDs are completely compatible.

    But to have a 16TB array die after re-synching 80% and having to start from scratch ... yeah it plain sucks.

    So yes, it is best to look at evidence from the field and not just rely on manufacturer's recommended & compatible lists. And it's not just WD Red ...
  • Hrel - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    It's frustrating that despite the rapid growth in the NAS industry hard drive prices have remained largely stagnant. 4TB drives are basically at the same price point's they were a year ago. It used to be if a drive was released at $200 a year later it was $100 or less.

    I'm still waiting for 4TB drives to drop to the $100 mark before I make the jump.

    What happened to all those 121TB hard drives that we were supposed to be seeing? I specifically remember an article on anandtech like 1+ years ago talking about how 12TB hard drives would be a reality "a year from today". More than a year later, we're talking about 6TB drives. Very upsetting.
  • Beany2013 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    The floods in Thialand a few years ago set things back - we're only now seeing the manufacturers get their primary build locations back up to full speed not just in manufacturing existing gear, but developing new stuff.

    We've had 2tb drives for *years*, but 3tb and above are the results of the 'HDD Homelands' getting back up to speed as I understand it from my works disty/channel contacts, at least. Mebbe one for a pipeline article on the stagnation of HDD capacity, staffers?
  • extide - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    When are we going to get 4k native drives!! I hate this stupid 512b emulation crap!
  • Zan Lynx - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    I am pretty sure 4K native drives are already out there. I recall a Linux Kernel message thread discussing testing 4K drives and there was a tool to turn off 512B emulation.

    If you want them to turn off emulation, I doubt that will happen. Its too easy to leave the code in the firmware.
  • edlee - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    seagate wipes the floor with all other manufactures when it comes to enterprise products.

    that being said, they are expensive as shit, so I bought WD red for my home Nas, but use seagate in my office server for reliability.
  • jabber - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Liabilities waiting to happen.
  • asmian - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Completely agree! The two enterprise-class drives are just about OK to use in arrays (and the Helium tech of the HGST looks very interesting, I hope they bring that to smaller drives as well) but the WD Red at that size is a crazy proposition. See my calculation about the risks of rebuilding arrays with those at http://anandtech.com/comments/8273/western-digital...

    Anybody building large arrays with these consumer-class 6TB Reds is a fool.
  • bsd228 - Monday, July 21, 2014 - link

    Asmian - you may be taking that URE value too literally. I find it very hard to believe that enterprise drives are exactly 10x as good as consumer drives. When the number is so round as 1x10^14 or 1x10^15, it makes me believe them the same way I do the MTBF values. Consider how many premium or enterprise products we see where the only different is a software setting activating a feature.

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