Western Digital has extended its Red line with 5 and 6TB models, sporting 1.2TB per platter. Performance is expected to be slightly improved over the older / smaller capacities of the Red. The upgraded line will use an improved 'NASware 3.0' firmware, which makes improvements to Western Digital's software based vibration compensation. These improvements mean WD can now support up to 8 Reds in a single chassis (up from 5 with NASware 2.0).
Also announced was the new Red Pro line, available in capacities up to 4TB. The Red Pro is just as it sounds – a 'Pro' version of the Red. This model borrows more features from WD's enterprise line, making it very similar to an SE series HDD. Imagine a Red, but at 7200RPM and more aggressive seek times. The Red Pro also borrows the enterprise-grade 5-year warranty and is supported in chassis up to 16 bays, thanks to built-in hardware vibration compensation. When all is said and done, the Red Pro is basically a WD SE with firmware tweaked for NAS workloads.
We typically have our WD reviews post right at the NDA. On this piece, we opted to hold back as we've been working with Western Digital on some abnormal performance results we saw with the 6TB Red. Below are the results seen in Iometer. Note that the 6TB Red failed to demonstrate the expected 'ramp up' seen with other drives. HDDs normally show increased performance as Queue Depth increases. This is because the HDD controller is able to see multiple pending requests and optimize its access pattern. The more commands in the queue (higher QD), the more the HDD can optimize the pattern, and therefore the higher resulting IOPS seen.
As you can see above, the 6TB Red appears to behave as if NCQ is disabled. Some might argue (in reviews that have already published) that the drive still performs well, but the plain truth of the matter is that a HDD effectively operating without NCQ removes the drives ability to scale when multiple commands are issued. Any test issuing more than one command simultaneously will see a lesser result as compared to a properly configured drive, so things like streaming multiple videos or several users actively simultaneously accessing a NAS will see a negative impact on performance.
The 4TB Red Pro did not demonstrate the issues noted above, and Western Digital has just issued this statement in response to our feedback. Here it is:
WD has learned that initial production units of WD Red 5* and 6 TB drives perform below our expectations in random-read benchmark tests when measured with specific testing software. We have found a configuration setting to be causing these particular test results, for which we are developing a firmware update to correct the configuration setting. In the intended application — multi-drive NAS systems — the drives have performed to our high expectations in WD’s labs and by our system partners; users will experience normal WD Red performance.
WD is committed to providing optimally performing storage products, designed for intended applications, and we will have a firmware update available through the WD Red Product Customer Service support line as it becomes available.
*Limited quantities of 5 TB have shipped with the earlier configuration setting.
We have decided to publish the full article covering both new drives, including the 6TB Red in its (currently shipping) misconfigured form. It will go live once I add the necessary verbiage explaining the misconfiguration seen on the 5TB and 6TB Red.
Stay tuned for that piece later tonight (**EDIT** our review is now live **EDIT**), as well as a follow-on piece to be published as soon as we have the updated firmware from Western Digital.
WD® EXPANDS NAS STORAGE OFFERINGS WITH 6 TB, 5-PLATTER HARD DRIVE FEATURING INDUSTRY-LEADING AREAL DENSITY
WD Red® Now in 6 TB Capacities; NASware 3.0 Increases NAS System Bay Count Support to Eight Bays; New WD Red Pro Deepens Reach into Medium to Large NAS Market
IRVINE, Calif, – July 21, 2014 – WD®, a Western Digital® (NASDAQ:WDC) company, and world leader in storage solutions, today announced the expansion of its award-winning WD Red® line of SATA hard drives for home and small office NAS (network attached storage) systems with the release of a 5 TB and first-to-market 6 TB capacity for NAS-specific storage and the introduction of WD Red Pro hard drives that address the medium to large business NAS market. Compatibility-tested with top NAS system manufacturers and optimized for power and performance, WD Red 3.5-inch hard drives are now shipping in 1 TB to 6 TB capacities; and the new WD Red Pro 3.5-inch hard drives are available in 2 TB to 4 TB capacities.
“With the expansion and evolution of the WD Red family, WD once again is providing its loyal customers with increased capacity up to 6 TB; improved bay count support with up to 8 bays; increased product breadth with WD Red Pro; and more features with the latest generation of NASware technology,” said Matt Rutledge, senior vice president and general manager, WD Storage Technology. “WD continues to listen to its customers and bring exciting innovation to the category they helped to create.”
A storage industry innovation first introduced in 2012, WD Red hard drives address the unique environment of NAS and the growing demand for affordable, reliable and compatible storage that reduces customer total cost of ownership. With the release of 5 TB and 6 TB models, the WDRed line of hard drives is now further enriched with greater storage capacity and increased performance with NASware 3.0, an enhanced version of WD’s original NASware® technology, designed to improve reliability and system performance, reduce customer downtime and to simplify the integration process.
WD Red hard drives also feature 3D Active Balance Plus, an enhanced balance control technology, which significantly improves overall drive performance and reliability. Exclusive for WD Red customers, WD offers free premium 24×7 dedicated support.
By increasing NASware 3.0 capability, the WD Red 1–6 TB capacity drives are capable of supporting up to eight bay NAS systems with no negative impact to performance.
WD Red Pro
Ideal for medium to large business environments, the new WD Red Pro line of NAS hard drives supports eight to 16 bay NAS systems. The enhanced design offers reliable, high performance storage powered by NASware 3.0. By introducing the WD Red Pro, WD now has a full portfolio NAS storage solution with the WD Red family (WD Red and WD Red Pro) for both consumer and business NAS solutions.
The WD Green™ line of cool and quiet hard drives is also seeing capacity expansion with 5 TB and 6 TB additions for high capacity consumer storage.
High capacity WD 6 TB hard drives will integrate seamlessly with WD’s My Cloud®, My Cloud EX2, My Cloud EX4, My Cloud Mirror personal cloud storage as well as My Book® and My Book Duo external drive solutions and are compatible to work with a wide array of WD OEM NAS partners. An updated list of WD Red-qualified products and manufacturers is available on the WD website at http://www.wdc.com/en/
Availability and Pricing
Available now at select U.S. retailers and distributors, WD Red and WD Red Pro have three- and five-year limited regional warranties, respectively. Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for WD Red 5 TB (model #: WD50EFRX) is $249.00 USD, and $299.00 USD for 6 TB (model #: WD60EFRX). Pricing for WD Red Pro 2 TB (model #: WD2001FFSX) is $159.00 USD, $199.00 USD for 3 TB (model #: WD3001FFSX) and $259.00 USD for 4 TB (model #: WD4001FFSX). More information about WD Red hard drives including terms of the limited warranty may be found on the company website at http://www.wdc.com/en/