WD did everyone a favor when they reorganized their products under color-coded branding a few years ago. With the Blue (mainstream), Green (quiet and cool) and Black (performance) lines well laid out, consumers have a much easier time picking out the right drive for their application, rather than poring over spec sheets and complex model numbers. And now there's another line to add to that list: Red. Designed specfically to be used in 1-5 bay NAS devices, the Red line has hardware and software features that make it suited for that particular climate, while delivering impressive performance and reliability. WD has worked with major NAS manufacturer's to ensure compatibility with as many common NAS products as possible, and has a list of the tested devices here.

The secret sauce in these drives is the firmware, or as WD is calling it NASware. NAS devices in the home are often used for bulk storage of media, they may have some shared documents and be used as back-ups, too; but they're most often used to store movies, music and images. ATA streaming command is featured in NASware, to alter the behavior of the drive while streaming media, in an effort to ensure smooth playback, even while serving mutliple streams. They've also included error correction optimizations to prevent a drive from dropping out of a RAID array while it chases down a piece of corrupt data. The downside is that you might see an artifact on the screen briefly while streaming a movie, the upside is that you won't have playback pause for a few seconds, or for good depending on your configuration, while the drive drops off the RAID to fix the error. 

Then there's the matter of performance. With quoted performance of around 150 MB/s these drives are nudging into Black territory. WD's new balance mechanism contributes to this. By actively balancing the drive during use there's no need to slow the drive down to prevent damage, so performance remains high. There's also a reported power savings, which WD says will make up the price delta for these drives over the rest of the line through your power bill. Speaking of price, the MSRP for the 3.5" 1TB, 2TB and 3TB drives are $109, $139 and $189, respectively. And these drives are available at your favorite e-tailer starting today. Ganesh is patiently awaiting our review samples so he can put them through the ringer and see how they do. 

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  • Solandri - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Brain fart. Obviously I meant cylinders, not platters. Reply
  • mcnabney - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    I wasn't talking advertised. I looked up some actual results on Anandtech. I chose the 2MB file size, which is more realistic for a storage drive. The very low numbers from random 4k transfers just don't need to be done on a NAS. Reply
  • Sivar - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Gigabit ethernet may be the bottleneck in home movie servers,but not so much in database or multi-users servers. Good luck getting 120MB/sec of random I/O from a 5-unit array of hard drives, especially with RAID5. Reply
  • tjoynt - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    ++ this!
    If you have a single user with streaming data you'll bottleneck on the gig-e, but add a few heavy users and your platters will slow to a crawl. I've seen half a million $$ disk arrays act slower then my original ipod because of heavy random use.
    Reply
  • clarkn0va - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    It has to be said that in 2012 the owner of such a system better be taking a serious look at solid state storage options. Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    At the 3TB level, the Green is only $10 less than the Red on Newegg. Reply
  • Rick83 - Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - link

    Well, it's useful for getting quick resyncs done.
    While my RAID runs at around 200MB/s off of WD green's (seq read), a resync is around 40-50 MB/s. Long resyncs mean longer periods where your system has degraded performance.
    Reply
  • jwcalla - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    Hopefully they've given up on this 512b emulation stuff so we can finally use these things in ZFS builds without tearing our hair out. Reply
  • Grebuloner - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    So with the release of a whole new line, was there any indication that they will be upping the capacities of their Blue and Black lines? They've been stuck at 1 and 2 TB for quite a while now, and if you want 3 TB (or more) of performance storage you have to go with another brand. Reply
  • JasonInofuentes - Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - link

    No word on whether the higher capacities will be coming to Black and Blue, but we should see some of this tech filter down to the other lines. Just not at the expense of the Red line. They see the Red line as a huge growth market, so I'd suspect the NASware features will remain limited to just these drives. But the balancing mechanics and should make the leap, and we could see more firmware optimizations on a per application basis. Reply

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