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  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Wow, that's quite a small segment of the market they're targeting with this. I wonder if these are just RE's that didn't pass QA. We've all heard of CPU binning... maybe they're binning HDD's... Reply
  • bobbozzo - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Since these are for 'datacenter NAS' use; I'm guessing they as good as or better than the RE's. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Given they're quoted with a lower workrate and MTBF rating than the REs I doubt they're better. Reply
  • joel4565 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Ganesh T S,
    What is wrong with using the Red series in larger filer servers? I see your comment in the article "WD wanted to make sure that it wasn't used for units with more than 5 bays"

    I thought WD's Red series were extremely popular in FreeNAS and Unraid boxes. And those boxes often have more than 5 drives. Is there an inherent problem with using the Red series in a larger array?

    I currently have a 10 drive Unraid setup build with WD green series, but I am thinking of migrating to FreeNAS next year and building a RaidZ2 array with 8-10 drives and was planning on using WD red drives. If the price difference is not much for SE over Red, I will get SE drives, but I have a feeling there will be a 50-100 difference per drive.
  • Jeff7181 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    "And those boxes often have more than 5 drives." They do? I think the majority of home NAS setups are the 2-3 disk setups people buy off the shelf at Best Buy. Not a 8-10 disk home built FreeNAS box. Reply
  • joel4565 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    I didn't mean that most of Red drives are used in FreeNAS or Unraid boxes. I am aware that most people who buy Red drives would be using them in some like a Buffalo, drobo, etc box that holds 2-5 drives.

    I meant that many people who make FreeNAS or Unraid boxes would consider using WD Red drives. I know many Unraid users used WD green drives, before the Red series existed.
  • mfenn - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    WD wanted to make sure that the Red drives didn't cannibalize sales of their RE (and now SE) drives. Thus the arbitrary NAS slot limitation. They have that sort of leverage over NAS makers because they can withhold discounts, limit quantities, and other various tricks.

    Are such practices anti-competitive? You betcha.
    Does that stop WD? Nope.
  • garcondebanane - Tuesday, January 07, 2014 - link

    How exactly is this practice anti-competitive? Reply
  • watersb - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    I have 10 WD Red 2TB in a ZFS array for the home office. I am very interested in more storage coverage. Reply
  • roberta - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    The problem(s) are vibrations from the HDDs themselves.
  • JDG1980 - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    Wouldn't that be easily solved by using decent hard drive bays with anti-vibration grommets, like the ones that come with Fractal Design cases? This is fairly routine in modern enthusiast cases, but for some reason server enclosures are still built like it's 1997. Reply
  • Dentons - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    While Google's comparative hard drive report is now somewhat dated, at the time of their analysis they found little value in enterprise drives. Longevity is the primary, perhaps now the only concern. I'm far from convinced that the features these drives advertise is worth the significant added expense.

    I wouldn't go so far as to say this is snake oil, but at double the price of consumer drives, there would have to be objective third-party analysis for our group to justify purchasing these, or any other enterprise class drive.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Think of it as paying for the extra four years of warranty. If a HDD company is willing to accept returns on the drive for five years instead of the standard one year (on consumer drives), there must at least be some amount of extra stress testing / different technology involved. Reply
  • joel4565 - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    I agree in principle, in practice I am not so sure. As long as hard drive capacities keep increasing, you will probably end up changing them anyway to either increase capacity/decrease number of drives (power, heat, etc).

    When I started my Unraid server a few years ago 2 TB drives were the norm, now 3 TB are the normal and 4 TB are becoming affordable. So I could either double my capacity or half the number of drives which would reduce the power usage, heat generated, as well as make it quieter.
  • Dentons - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Exactly. Also consider that when WD has to replace warranty units, it's typically done many years down the road, and with refurbished stock.

    So when they charge double for a drive today, it's truly a no lose proposition. Even if they have to replace the drive inside a year, they've charged double, it covers their cost and still permits a profit. A 3TB drive today typically has three platters, in three years, it may be two or even one platter. If the drive lasts two or three years, the decrease in manufacturing costs will see WD profit further.

    In all likelihood, a large percentage of units with either last the full five years or if they fail, will not be turned in for warranty replacement. It's on these units where WD makes a stellar profit.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised if many big data centers preferred the cheapest drives on offer. Their numbers may tell them that at the mean age of drive failure, it's cheaper to buy a new drive at half the price than pay double upfront (quadruple at mean failure) for a lengthy warranty.
  • Dentons - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    No, a longer warranty doesn't mean the drives have better longevity. It only means the drive has a longer warranty.

    This could just be an insurance policy. No one knows actual reliability better than Western Digital. If their actuarial tables line up properly, charging double for the same drive with 5 times the warranty could be a large revenue center for them.

    My strong suspicion is that's exactly what's going on here. I suspect these drives are nearly identical to consumer units, and that WD and Seagate are selling thinly disguised insurance policies in the form of their 'higher end' units.
  • watersb - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Between 2003-2008 I had to replace about half of my Seagate hard disk collection. They were still on a 5-year warranty. But with 2 or 3-year warranty as standard these days, at a lower price point, I just stay at the 2TB capacity and purchase more drives. The effective cost per drive per year seems to be about the same. Reply
  • Jaybus - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 - link

    Not entirely. When you get to larger arrays, PM2/ACPI staggered spin-up support is needed to protect against the power requirements momentarily exceeding the power supply. All drives require more power when spinning up than in operation, so you either have to have a large ps or else staggered spin-up. Desktop drives like the red do not usually support this and other enterprise features such as TLER, etc. needed in larger RAID arrays.

    But I agree that the difference, aside from the durability guarantees, is entirely firmware related. I get that the extra firmware work makes them more expensive, but NOT twice as expensive.
  • JDG1980 - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    The WD Red drives do have TLER, so that isn't an issue. As for the spin-up power, maybe if you try to skimp out by getting a crappy 300W no-name power supply, that might be a problem, but I don't see even a dozen hard drives spinning up at once being a problem for a modern 860W Seasonic or Corsair PSU. Reply
  • Dentons - Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - link

    You're right. Google uses silicone pads to isolate their hard drives from vibrations in their DIY data centers. Why don't most rack mount server vendors do this? Good question. It's little wonder that Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, and the others are either already rolling their own solutions, or preparing to.

    I'm far from convinced that these higher end drives offer any hardware benefit over consumer drives. Different firmware and sometimes longer warranties, but better hardware?

    It would be nice to learn what Google and the rest are using in their data centers. My suspicion is that they're using an OEM data center drive that in price and specs, is nearly identical to consumer drives.
  • lukewayne - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Ganesh, thanks for the article, is there a reason you put "Se" instead of "SE" ? Also "Re" was confusing if you were trying to be short for "Red" or referring to the old "RE" Raid Edition. I wish I would have known these were around the corner, I just picked up some Red drives because I didn't want to spend on RE drives. Reply
  • brshoemak - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Well, because they are called "Se" by Western Digital. There also was a WD Caviar SE drive in the past (before they started using colors of the rainbow) so I guess it's some sort of method of differentiation. Of course, if you type 'Western Digital Se hard drives" it will be awhile before the first results returned will be these new drives.

    btw, I keep hearing about this 5 drive limitation, that's just a suggestion from WD right? I mean they can't tell a RAID controller not to stripe across drives. What's the deal?
  • Foeketijn - Saturday, June 01, 2013 - link

    I'd also love to see some failure rate nubers or percentage RMA's from the big sellers. Until then I can only say, I sold about a hundred RE/Raptor/Veliciraptor drives. One DOA (which had a dent on arrival) and the rest is, as far as I can tell still running. I can't say the same about the two to three hundred desktop drives. Of-course this isn't comparable since a semi (not SCSI/SAS) enterprise disk comes with a quality PSU and motherboard. And the fact that a 19" isn't very likely to be knocked over.
    And there is the conception that Murphy only bricks harddrives when there isn't a decent backup.

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