Western Digital Releases ‘Gold’ HDDs for Datacenters

Coloured drives have long been a mainstay of Western Digital branding. The old Blue, Black, and Greens were supplemented in recent years by the addition of the Red and Purple lineups. Today, Western Digital has released a new colour, Gold, for the datacenter. The new Gold WD HDDs will co-exist with the current WD Re lineup of enterprise drives for a while but the new family will eventually supplant the old.

The 3 drives launching today are the 8TB WD8002FRYZ, 6TB WD6002FRYZ and 4TB WD4002FYYZ. The drives are all SATA 6 Gbps 3.5″ form factor with 7200rpm spindle speed, an extra large 128MB cache and using good old PMR platters. The 8TB model uses the HelioSeal helium fill that HGST, a WD subsidiary, pioneered with their drives. With lower capacities, the 6TB and 4TB are regular drives but the 6TB model does feature a ‘media cache’ to speed up writes. This sounds a lot like a NAND cache, making the 6TB Gold the first enterprise hybrid drive. 

Due to the use of helium, it’s interesting to see the 8TB drive actually has lower power consumption than the other too. On the other hand, the NAND cache makes the 6TB the best performing model. The 4TB is also somehow 18% faster than its Re predecessor. The 4TB and 6TB also feature their own form of HGST involvement as well, being made by HGST Japan. Perhaps this is a sign that Western Digital is moving their enterprise business over to their HGST division.

Western Digital’s Acquisition of SanDisk Finally Approved

In a deal that has been months in the making, Western Digital today announced that their shareholders had voted to approve the $19 billion purchase of SanDisk.  It was revealed that over 90% of WD’s shareholders voted for the issuing of WD common stock connected to the purchase, while 98% of SanDisk’s shareholders voted to approve the merge. Despite some potential upsets along the way, the takeover of SanDisk is expected to be completed by the second quarter of this year.

Western Digital and SanDisk are both industry leading giants in their fields, with WD focusing on hard drives and disk management software while SanDisk is one of the largest providers of NAND flash memory-based products, including SD cards, SSDs, and USB drives. This purchase gives WD a solid entry into the NAND flash storage sector and should bring together the WD’s experience in the hard drive sector and SanDisk’s SSDs to create great results.

WD CEO Steve Milligan firmly believes that the merger is best for both companies, stating that “This combination brings together two tremendous companies and cultures ideally positioned to capture the growth opportunities in our rapidly evolving industry.” Meanwhile, SanDisk CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said the merger would allow them to “offer the broadest portfolio of industry-leading, innovative storage solutions to customers across a wide range of markets and applications.”

With SSDs rapidly gaining on HDDs in almost every way, it seems like Western Digital’s purchase of SanDisk will allow them to remain more relevant in a world that is shifting towards NAND flash storage instead of the traditional hard drive they are known for. What this merger will mean for the consumer remains to be seen, however, both companies possess a history of high quality and reliable products, so we can hope it is nothing but good.

QNAP TAS-268 QTS and Android Combo NAS Review

Introduction


In today’s review, I am taking a look at a NAS that comes with a twist that we previously haven’t seen out-of-the-box. I’m talking about QNAP’s TAS-268 NAS which is a 2-bay hybrid NAS that runs both QNAP’s QTS and Android at the same time. The TAS-268 doesn’t just have a twist in the operating system, the physical form also takes a different approach than most NAS on the market.

At the core, the QNAP TAS-268 is a normal NAS with the function that you would expect from such a unit. It doesn’t come with the most power processor, but in return, it also comes with a low price tag despite all the functionality. It is built around an ARM 1.1 GHz dual-core processor and comes with 2GB DDR3 memory. It also features an onboard 4GB flash memory to be used by the Android system. While this doesn’t sound like much, it should be plenty for this device’s functions.

Besides this 2-bay unit, QNAP also released a 1-bay unit with the only difference being the number of drives you can install. But it is the 2-bay unit that we’re looking at today and it supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD, and single disk setup with two 3.5-inch hard disk drives. There are plenty of external connection options on the TAS-268 with one Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, four USB 2.0 ports on the rear and one USB 3.0 port on the front.

The front also features an SD card slot for easy and portable storage connection just as you’re used to from your Android phone or tablet – just much easier. You don’t need to remove any covers and battery as it is the case with many phones, instead, you have the SD slot right at the front of the device where you need it.

To complete the convenience experience, QNAP also added the one-touch copy button which allows just what the name promised, copy the content from the front USB port with a single press of the button. How the button shall react can be changed in the QTS system and it is capable of copy operations in both directions, both to and from the USB drives.

With a NAS like this that supports Android, we also need an HDMI port in order to connect it to our monitor or TV and the TAS-2688 also features this on the rear. It is accompanied by four USB 2.0 ports that come in handy for keyboard, mouse, and game controller connection in order to take even better advantage of the Android platform and all the available apps. You can also control the system through the use of the included IR remote control. The TS-268 supports HD and 4K H.265 / H.264 file formats, 4K H.264 with up to 15 frames per second and 4K H.265 with up to 30 frames per second.

Shouldn’t you want to connect the device via HDMI or maybe you just want to get your stored and linked media files onto more devices then you can take advantage of the common DLNA streaming that QNAP also supports. Consoles, Smart TVs, Mini-PCs and much more support this and it is probably the easiest method of streaming content.

Google Play also provides various media apps including YouTube, TED, Twitch and other video apps to be used directly on the NAS. You can install and stream movies, cartoons, TV series, news, and sports at any time in order to enrich your entertainment level.

QNAP introduced their myQNAPcloud system quite a while ago by now and naturally the TAS-268 also supports this. It isn’t just a simple and effective way to set up your new NAS, it also allows you to connect to the finished setup much quicker and easier. By acting as a simplified and locked-in dynamic DNS system it will allow you to easily connect to your NAS, securely, from anywhere in the world and any device as long as you and the NAS both have internet connectivity.

With that in mind, it is incredibly easy to create you own personal cloud system where you don’t have to rely on commercial or free options that thousands of other people use. Keep your files at home where you know who has access and who doesn’t. It is a breeze to sync files to the NAS via QNAP’s own Qsync as well as the Cloud Drive Sync app from the QTS app center that can sync files with Google Drive and Dropbox.

Both real-time and scheduled backups on Windows systems as well as with Time Machine on Mac OS systems is easily taken care of with QNAP’s NetBak replicator and it also features disaster recovery solutions including RTRR, rsync, and cloud storage backup (Dropbox and Google Drive) are also included. So all the bases are covered.

As previously mentioned, you naturally also get the ordinary NAS cross-platform file sharing capabilities from a centralized data storage. Whether you use Linux, Unix, Windows, or Mac OS, your connection is covered. And with the use of apps you get the same connectivity on your Windows Mobile, Android, or iOS system.

So far I have mostly been talking about the software functionality, but that’s just one of the great aspects on this NAS. The design is quite a bit different than we are used with a vertical unit rather than a horizontal oriented. This saves space on the desk with a smaller footprint which can be a vital factor near your entertainment system and similar likely placement scenarios.

The TAS-28 is also a very light unit due to a simple and clever design. Even better, the entire NAS can be set up completely tool-less for your convenience. There is a single thumbscrew at the bottom with which you can open up the chassis and the drive are mounted tool-less too with the included adapters.

Despite having a unique outer design, a lot of the internal design is something that reminds us of previous 2-bay NAS units – just improved with the tool-less drive mounting options and vertical instead of horizontal.

With all this talk about Android, we shouldn’t forget about the base QTS operating system. It provides a web-based user interface to help you easily manage files on the TAS-268. You can install various apps based on your needs to fulfill tasks like storage, backup, management and multimedia applications. File Station allows you to upload, download and manage files anywhere with a web browser. All of your photos, music and videos can be indexed by the built-in Media Library, and easily managed and shared with the Photo Station, Music Station and Video Station. The energy-saving Download Station is your 24/7 download center, allowing you to quickly download files to enrich your collection.

Feature Highlights

  • Dual-core CPU
  • Android and QTS operating system
  • Organize & manage files and backup tasks in one centralized location
  • Synchronize files between computers, laptops, and mobile devices
  • Remotely access your files securely from your personal cloud
  • Stream your multimedia library via DLNA to other devices and your TV
  • Enjoy direct media playback via HDMI with HD videos and photos
  • Compact and streamlined chassis ideal for a desktop or living room environment

Packaging and Accessories

The TAS-268 comes in a simple white box with a representation of the NAS unit as well as the feature highlights.

The rear of the box contains some more information as to what’s so special about this NAS, but it’s kept short.

Opening up the box and we find a brand new NAS that is well protected with self-adhesive plastic film – you know the kind we all love to peel off once we get a new gadget.

Besides the NAS itself, there is a quick installation guide to help you get started quickly, a power supply brick and power cord fitting the region you bought it in as well as an RJ45 LAN cable.

There’s also a small remote control included that is about 3 inches long. Shown below are also the four HDD mounting brackets that simply snap into the drive and hold it in place.

Western Digital Introduces Consumer Helium Hard Drives

As always with most technology, helium hard drives arrived first to the enterprise segment. Over 3 years since HGST, a Western Digital subsidiary, first announced their helium-filled HDD, Western Digital is coming out with their first consumer-oriented helium hard drive. Sold under the WD instead of HGST brand, the family of drives goes up to 8TB, just a tad lower than the 10TB offered to data centres.

The family of helium filled 3.5” internal HDDs will be sold under the WD Red, Red Pro and Purple lineups. These are for NAS/RAID and surveillance system use respectively. The new helium drives will also find their way into My Cloud, My Book and My Book Duo external storage systems. Due to the helium fill, the Pro manages to sport a 7,200rpm spindle speed which is impressive for consumer 8TB drives. The Pro also features vibration protection for up to 16 drives in an enclosure while the regular drives only go up to 8. The regular Red and Purple are limited to their standard 5,400rpm.

While there are few specifications out yet, the drives should feature 1.33TB platters like their enterprise counterparts. As expected, the use of the HelioSeal and the more exotic fill does drive up costs, with prices about $70 more than Seagate’s Archive series 8TB using SMR technology. By using helium though instead of SMR to increase capacity, these WD drives will offer better performance.

SilverStone MS08 Mobile Rack 3.5-inch RAID Enclosure Review

Introduction


Today I am taking a look at something a little different from my usual drive and NAS reviews, today I’m taking a closer look at the SilverStone MS08 mobile rack that converts a single 3.5-inch drive bay into a two-bay 2.5-inch RAID unit with hot-swap abilities.

The SilverStone MS08 mobile rack can be a very useful tool to have at your disposal in several different scenarios. First of all, it allows you to connect two drives as a single one to your motherboard or host controller. You have three modes that you can connect the drives as, whether you want performance, redundancy, or capacity. All the basics are covered RAID 0, 1, and JBOD at your disposal.

The RAID feature is set by the hardware itself. You got two small switches on the rear of the unit that lets you select the mode and a little button that needs to be pressed in order to change the configuration. SilverStone included an SATA cable and a power adapter from MOLEX to SATA, allowing you to connect it to your setup without the need for anything that isn’t in the box. Even the four screws to mount it into the chassis are included.

The SilverStone MS08 connects to a single SATA connector and it supports up to SATA3 6Gbps. Mechanical hard drives, and especially 2.5-inch, aren’t fast enough to saturate such a connection, but with an enclosure like the MS08, you can get very close. The added bonus of being able to hot-swap the drives by simply ejecting them to the front make the enclosure even more useful.

Even people who want to take their drives on the go can benefit from the SilverStone MS08. Thanks to the standard 3.5-inch form factor, the MS08 fits into any docking station and enclosure that is built for 3.5-inch drives. Where you’d normally take a single 3.5-inch drive with your data, you can now take a RAID setup of 2.5-inch drives instead and you don’t need to worry about the order of them. You also don’t need to worry about drivers or complicated setups when you’re on the go, the unit is fully plug-and-play the same way a normal drive is.

The tool-less tray design is a great feature and it allows for true hot-swapping of drives. The enclosure itself is both durable and beautiful thanks to being constructed from premium aluminum that also aids in cooling the drives as well as their protection. There are a few plastic parts, but the majority of the enclosure is made of aluminum. You can load the MS08 with 2.5-inch drives that have a height of up to 9.5mm, making it compatible with most 2-5inch hard drives and solid state drives.

The front of the MS08 enclosure has two blue LEDs, one for each drive, allowing you to keep an eye on what drive is active and not. The drive tray isn’t lockable, but the ledge is secure and there is little risk that you could end up opening it by accident. Even if you should end up opening it when you didn’t want to, you don’t need to worry. The door has to be opened fully and then pressed in to eject the drives. Both drives will be ejected at the same time.

Pulling the rear of the enclosure off and having a look inside, we see that SilverStone added the SATA connectors on an independent PCB. It doesn’t feature much besides the two SATA connectors and a little power stabilization.

The main PCBB has the external connections and buttons. To the right we see the two LEDs mounted that then are passed on to the front of the enclosure. We can also see the connector for the sub PCB here.

Turning the main PCB over and we find the brain in this enclosure, a JMicron JMS562 bridge chip. The JMicron JMS562 is a Super Speed & eSATA GEN III to Dual SATA Gen III Ports bridge chip with four independent SATA channels and a microprocessor integrated.

Features

  • Premium aluminum construction for durability and protection
  • Supports for two 9.5mm 2.5” drives
  • Supports RAID 0, 1, and JBOD
  • Offer great performance of up to SATA 6Gb/s
  • Tool-less tray design for quick hot-swaps
  • Fits into any 3.5” drive bay

Packaging and Accessories

SilverStone wrapped the MS08 Mobile Rack in a colorful orange themed box that makes it stand out. The front of the box shows the enclosure itself as well as its features. There’s also a handy QR-Code to scan in order to check the official product page online.

The rear and the sides once again feature the features of the MS08 enclosures and you’ll find it in multiple languages on the rear of it.

Inside the box is everything that you need to connect the MS08 and get started. You get an SATA data cable, an MOLEX to SATA power adapter, four screws to mount the enclosure, and a manual that explains how to install and use it.

WD Purple 6TB Surveillance Hard Drive RAID Review

Introduction


We have already had the pleasure to see how WD’s 6TB Purple surveillance hard disk performed in our previous review, but WD was kind enough to provide us with two of these drives and thereby allowing us to test them in a RAID environment too. A surveillance setup will rarely consist of just one hard drive, making this review one to take a closer look at before investing in your future surveillance storage.

With two drives at our disposal, we can run them as in RAID 1 and RAID 0 setups, depending on whether we want speed and storage or redundancy. There isn’t one setup that is better than another, it comes down to what you need in your setup. Most people will probably get more drives and opt for a RAID 5, RAID 6, or RAID 10 setup, but those are out of our reach when working with just two drives.

Whether you want to protect your personal assets and loved ones or monitor the business you worked hard to build, you’ll want surveillance-class storage to rely on. Not only are these drives built for 24/7 usage in environments with up to 8 disks, they also come with enhanced firmware built just for this kind of operation. When it comes to surveillance, every frame counts, and every frame has to be perfect. This is especially noticeable when many cameras are using the drives simultaneously. WD’s Purple series has no trouble here and it is designed to work in setups with up to 32 HD cameras.

The WD Purple 6TB surveillance drive features 64MB cache and uses the well-known WD IntelliPower system for the spindle speed. It is rated for a sustained transfer speed of up to 175MB/s and comes with a power draw of 5.3W in operation, 4.9W when idle, and 0.4W in standby or sleep mode. The noise level is rated to 45 dBA idle and 26 dBA seeking, so they’re barely audible. With a weight of 750 grams, the WD Purple 6TB isn’t the lightest drive, but that’s no surprise considering the capacity.

Western Digital also designed the Purple series to work in high-temperature environments. The temperature rating of the drive, on the base casting, ranges from zero to 65 degrees Celcius when operating and -40 to 70 when non-operating. The Purple series has a mean time before failure of 1 million hours and can withstand 300,000 load/unload cycles. On top of that you also get a two-year limited warranty.

One of the things that make the WD Purple series so great is the exclusive AllFrame technology that works with ATA streaming to reduce error pixelation and video interruptions that easily occur when desktop drives are incorrectly used in security systems. Missed frames and lost footage is a serious problem when an event occurs and surveillance footage needs to be retrieved. WD Purple with AllFrame provides the confidence you should expect when it’s time to play back and review critical surveillance footage.

AllFrame Features:

  • Reduces video frame loss with surveillance-class storage.
  • Specifically tuned for surveillance security systems.
  • Caching algorithms are tuned for write-intensive, low bit rate, high stream count applications that are typical of surveillance applications.
  • Priority change for write allocations and preemptive caching policies.
  • TLER & ATA streaming support.
  • Supports up to eight drives.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage at the time of the review and might as such be subject to possible future changes.

WD Purple 6TB Surveillance Hard Drive Review

Introduction


In today’s review, I am taking a look at a mechanical hard disk, but it isn’t one that is intended for your desktop system. Western Digital created their Purple line of hard disk drives to be the perfect choice for digital video recording, network video recording, and surveillance systems. On the test bench today is the 6TB version of this WD Purple surveillance hard disk.

All hard disk drives may look the same on the outside, but there is a big difference in what is inside and how it works. That is also the main reason that you should pick a drive suited for the task at hand and not just any random drive of the shelve. As WD puts it: “You wouldn’t use a bicycle to transport cargo across the country because it is not the right tool for the job.”

 

Whether you want to protect your personal assets and loved ones or monitor the business you worked hard to build, you’ll want surveillance-class storage to rely on. Not only are these drives built for 24/7 usage in environments up to 8 disks, they also come with enhanced firmware built just for this kind of operation. When it comes to surveillance, every frame counts, and every frame has to be perfect. This is especially noticeable when many cameras are using the drives simultaneously. WD’s Purple series has no trouble here and it is designed to work with up to 32 HD cameras.

The drives don’t just have to be perfect for the scenario that they are to be used in, they also need to be compatible with the systems themselves. WD made sure that this was the case by working closely with industry leading chassis and chipset manufacturers. If you got an NVR system, you’ll most likely find the WD Purple on the official list of supported drives.

The entire line of WD Purple drives, from 1TB up to 6TB, all feature 64MB cache and come in the same 3.5-inch form factor. WD also used their IntelliPower system that we know from such drives as the RED series, that uses variable speeds to bring the performance that is needed without excessive noise from the motors. But that is where the similarities of the drives end. The 6TB version that I’m taking a closer look at today is the best performing of them all with a sustained speed rating of 175MB/s where the 1TB model for example only is rated for 110MB/s. The drives naturally also differentiate in power consumption. The bigger the drive, the bigger the power draw, that is if the word big even applies here. The WD Purple 6TB draws 5.3W during read and write operations, 4.9W when idle, and 0.4W when in standby or sleep mode.

The noise level is almost identical on all the models, but there are differences. The largest drives are also the loudest with a dBA rating of 25 when idle and 26 when seeking. With a weight of 750grams, the 6TB model is also the heaviest of them all.

I’ve previously mentioned the firmware and that this was an important factor, and it is. One of the things that make the WD Purple series so great is the exclusive AllFrame technology that works with ATA streaming to reduce error pixelation and video interruptions that easily occur when desktop drives are incorrectly used in security systems. Missed frames and lost footage is a serious problem when an event occurs and surveillance footage needs to be retrieved. WD Purple with AllFrame provides the confidence you should expect when it’s time to play back and review critical surveillance footage.

AllFrame Features:

  • Reduces video frame loss with surveillance-class storage.
  • Specifically tuned for surveillance security systems.
  • Caching algorithms are tuned for write-intensive, low bit rate, high stream count applications that are typical of surveillance applications.
  • Priority change for write allocations and preemptive caching policies.
  • TLER & ATA streaming support.
  • Supports up to eight drives.

Next to being designed for 24/7 always-on scenarios, the WD Purple series is also designed for high-temperature environments. The temperature rating of the WD Purple, on the base casting, ranges from zero to 65 degrees Celcius when operating and -40 to 70 when non-operating.

Western Digital is backing the Purple series of surveillance drives with a three-year limited warranty worldwide. However, it is unlikely that you’ll ever need that warranty as the drives are rated for a mean time before failure of 1 million hours and can withstand 300,000 load/unload cycles.

Specifications

The specifications are taken directly from the manufacturers homepage at the time of the review and might as such be subject to possible future changes.

Chinese Firm takes up 15% Stake in Western Digital

In a move that is sure to surprise some, Unisplendour Corporation Limited (Unis), a Chinese firm, is taking up a 15% stake in Western Digital. With an investment of $3.775 billion, Unis will be the largest single shareholder, though the shares come with a 30% premium and do not give it any control over the second largest HDD manufacturer.

In exchange for their 15% stake, Unis does get to appoint a member to the board of directors for WD. Given that Unis is controlled by the Chinese government and WD does have sensitive matter it has to deal with at times, the Unis board member will not participate in those discussions. Unis will also not get access to any WD IP. Interestingly, Unis is closely tied to Tsinghua Holdings, an investment firm that has made some moves to acquire the NAND and memory manufacturer Micron.

Given the close ties Unis has with the Chinese government, the HGST-WD merger which has been held up by Chinese regulator MOFCOM should now get approval. Western Digital has been attempting to diversify their business away from pure HDDs with inroads made in hybrid disks and enterprise SSDs. With $3.775 billion extra, WD can go around acquiring all the technology and IP they need to remain relevant in the post-HDD world.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

Western Digital Drops ‘Green’ Drives in Favor of ‘Blue’

Western Digital has had several lines of hard drives for the past few years. Today, the lineup shrinks a bit as the WD Green brand gets folded into the WD Blue lineup. This move is apparently aimed at reducing consumer confusion when shopping for hard drives.

Even with Green drives gone, WD still has a decent number of different colors. There is the Black which is aimed at enthusiasts, the standard consumer Blue, the NAS centered Red and the surveillance oriented Purple. The biggest difference between the Green and Blue drives was the slower spindle speed of the former. While the Blue advertised 7200rpm, the Greens had a range between 5400rpm and 7200rpm but really stuck to about 5600rpm most of the time. The biggest selling points of the Green drives were the reduced power consumption and price compared to the Blue. Of course, this came with a performance penalty due to the slower spindle speed.

By removing the Greens and slotting the Blues in its place, WD is offering a small speed boost to the most budget users. For now, Green drives will be sold under the Blue brand, so be sure to check which specific model you are getting to ensure it’s actually a ‘Blue’. In some ways, this change has long been coming. Rival Seagate long consolidated their consumer lineup with the 7200.14/Barracuda lineup which offered the power savings of the Greens but had slightly better performance compared to the Blue.

Thank you PCWatch for providing us with this information

WD Announces My Book Pro Thunderbolt 2 DAS

Thunderbolt 2 has opened up for whole new possibilities thanks to the great throughput possibilities, daisy chaining, and universal usability. WD announced their newest and their fastest external storage solution, the My Book Pro, that is based around the Thunderbolt 2 connection.

The dual-bay unit is equipped with hardware RAID 0, 1, and JBOD mode and comes with the latest 6TB 7200RPM drives for a raw capacity up to 12TB in a small form factor. The unit connects through dual Thunderbolt 2 connections for up to 20Gbit/s throughput each and the My Book Pro can achieve transfer rates up to 435MB/s. There are also smaller 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB models for those who don’t need as much capacity.

Since you can daisy chain up to six devices on a Thunderbolt 2 port, you can theoretically add six of these units to your system and get an impressive amount of raw storage capacity that is lightning fast at the same time. The My Book Pro comes with USB 3.0 ports for easy backups

“The My Book Pro device has been designed from the ground up for the creative professional workflow. We’ve been able to take the newest, highest capacity 6 TB 7200 RPM drives on the market and marry them with leading technologies to deliver a product you can leverage from the moment you connect it,” said Sven Rathjen, vice president of marketing for WD’s Content Solutions business. “It really is designed to perform under the most demanding environments.”

The My Book Pro storage device is protected by a 3-year limited warranty and is available from the WD store as well as select retailers and distributors. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) will be $599.00 USD for the 6 TB, $749.00 for the 8 TB, $899.00 for the 10 TB and $999.00 for the 12 TB.

Western Digital Announced MyCloud OS 3 and Adds Arcus Surveillance Software

Western Digital has a great line-up of NAS devices that already come with a lot of good features and plenty of functionality, we’ve seen that for ourselves recently in the review of the WD EX4100 NAS. WD recognized that one thing was missing from their NAS when comparing to the competition and caught up on that by partnering with Milestone Systems and adding their Arcus Surveillance software to the upcoming and newly announced My Cloud OS 3.

The Milestone Arcus Surveillance software will be available first on WD’s My Cloud Business Series NAS systems beginning this month and it is expected to be available on other My Cloud systems such as the My Cloud Expert Series in the future. Milestone Arcus is designed to be embedded in hardware devices and as such a perfect choice for WD. This enables WD My Cloud OS 3 users to turn their NAS into a full-fledged networked video recording systems for their offices or homes. After installing the Arcus app, users can install up to 16 cameras where the first two are free and more will require the purchase of additional licenses.

My Cloud OS 3 will also bring a lot of other features that mostly centre around photo and video capabilities, and Chromebooks and Chromecast are also supported with this new OS version. My Cloud OS 3 will be available as a free download at the end of September 2015 for the models My Cloud, My Cloud Mirror, My Cloud Expert Series EX2/EX4, My Cloud Expert Series EX2100/EX4100 and My Cloud Business Series DL2100/DL4100.

First Prototype Seagate HAMR HDDs limited to 4TB

Even as we transition more and more to speedy SSDs, developments are still occurring in HDD land. Having explored the limits of what is practical with Helium filled Shingled Magnetic Recording drives, Seagate is moving onto HAMR or Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording which will allow HDDs to  scale beyond 16TB. Initial prototypes drives set to ship in late 2016 will be coming in a much more pedestrian 4TB though.

As HAMR is still in the early stages, the laser which provides the heat is too large, requiring more room between platters. This limits what Seagate can do until their refine the technology to ship 100TB HDDs in 2025.  Both Western Digital and subsidiary HGST are working on HAMR as well and even third wheel Toshiba is planning 128TB HDDs.

HAMR changes the bit density paradigm of HDDs which currently use a strong magnetic field to flip a bit permanently on a platter. Bit density is getting harder to achieve as it gets more and more difficult to shrink the  magnetic field. A magnetic field that is too large can risk flipping nearby bits and corrupting data. What HAMR does is to allow a change in platter material. Using a laser, a certain small area is heated up and a strong magnetic field applied to flip the bit. This field does not have to be small as before as the platter material won’t flip unless it hits a certain temperature. This means the bits can be as dense as the width of the laser, eliminating the issue of the magnetic field inadvertently flipping nearby bits.

For the first prototype, Seagate is starting off with an 810 nm wavelength and 20 mW power laser. This will heat up the target bit to 450c and then allow it to cool, all within 20ns. Seagate hopes to initially hit a target of 1.5 Tbits(Terabits) per square inch over the current 1 Tbits per square inch. No word yet has been released about the rpm of the prototype HAMR drive. Don’t get your hopes up about getting an HAMR drive in later 2016 as probably only certain partners will receive it.

Thank you heise for providing us with this information

WD Announces 6TB Sized Red Pro and Black HDDs

Western Digital just announced the expansion of the portfolio with not just one, but two 6TB drives. Actually, that’s not entirely true as there’s also new 5TB drives in the announcement, making it four new drives in total.

The first two are from the WD Black line, a drive for performance users who need a lot of capacity that also performs amazingly. Previously the Black series was available up to 4TB, making many opt for another model with more capacity. Now there is no need for compromise anymore and the new drive is said to be up to 29% faster than the previous 4TB model. The drives combine a 7200 RPM spindle speed with 128MB cache, dual stage actuator technology and an integrated dual processor to deliver this great performance. The WD Black 5TB drive comes with an MSRP of $264 USD while the 6TB model will set you back $294, but you also get a 5-year warranty on the drive.

The second new series that gets an update is the WD Red Pro and that series is also getting both a 5TB and 6TB version. Just like in the Black series, the WD Red Pro series had only been available with up to 4TB capacity so far, making a lot of people opt for the 6TB Red variant instead. These drives also feature an enhanced design, WD’s NASware 3.0 technology, 128 MB cache and can deliver a performance of up to 214MB/s. The drives are certified for use in systems with up to 16-bays and come with 2 additional years on the warranty over the normal Red drives, making it 5-years in total. They are of course built with Vibration Protection, which is why they are suited for systems with so many drive bays. The 5TB version comes with an MSRP of $269 while the 6TB model costs slightly more at an $299 MSRP.

WD Black 5TB and 6TB Features:

  • Increased Reliability -StableTrac Technology (2 TB and larger models) secures the motor shaft inside of the hard drive to increase reliability and help reduce impact due to system-induced vibrations from other components. By stabilizing the platters inside, the WD Black drive results in more accurate tracking in a particular sector during read and write operations, optimizing performance and reliability.
  • Increased DRAM cache – The Dynamic Cache Technology improves caching algorithms in real time to allocate and optimize cache between reads and writes. This movement of cache for read data helps to reduce congestion and increase overall performance.
  • Efficient dual processing – A dual-core processor offers twice the processing capability as a single-core processor to maximize drive performance for faster read and write speeds.
  • Industry-leading 5-year limited warranty – Compared to standard hard drives, the WD Black drive endures more strenuous and aggressive internal testing over a longer period of time, resulting in it being backed by an industry leading 5-year limited warranty.

WD Red Pro 5TB and 6TB Features:

  • Up to 16 Bay Shock Protection – Equipped with a multi-axis shock sensor, the drive automatically detects subtle shock events and, along with dynamic fly height technology, adjusts each read-write function to compensate and protect the data, further protecting the drive in large 1- to 16-bay NAS environments.
  • NASware 3.0 – Exclusive advanced firmware enables seamless integration, robust data protection and optimal performance for systems operating in the demanding NAS environment.
  • Vibration Protection – Hardware vibration compensation technology monitors the drive to correct both linear and rotational vibration in real time, further increasing drive reliability and enabling high performance in higher vibration systems caused from drive to drive vibration as well as from the high speed fans used to cool the larger systems.
  • Longer Warranty Coverage – Complimenting WD Red drives at a 3-year limited warranty, WD Red Pro offers longer warranty coverage with a 5-year limited warranty.

Toshiba MQ02 Series 500GB SSHD Review

Introduction


There are a lot of storage drives on the market to choose from and picking the right drive is a matter of budget and situational needs. Notebook users don’t have as many choices as they’re often limited to the 2.5-inch form factor and today I’m taking a look at such a drive.

We’ve got Toshiba’s latest 2.5-inch Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) on the testbench, the MQ02 series. The Toshiba MQ02ABF05H is an extremely silent 2.5-inch drive SSHD with 500GB capacity, but it is also available as 1 TB version.

The hybrid drives combine two things from different worlds into one, the cheap storage, storage capacity, and reliability of mechanical hard drives and the speed of NAND-based SSDs. The drive will sort the most used files into the flash memory for speedy access while keeping the cold data on the mechanical part of the drive.

This method will provide you with better boot times than traditional hard disks and your most used apps will too. This is an ideal drive to upgrade older notebooks and give them a needed performance boost.

The SSHD’s self-learning algorithm is optimized by Toshiba for 2-bit-per-cell MLC NAND and will continue to develop throughout the lifespan of the drive, constantly improving your PC’s performance. This is also one of the things that make this drive a tough one to benchmark. It will not show its true potential in synthetic tests.

There is a good chance that you’ll take this drive with you on the road inside a laptop and you’ll want your data to be secure while doing so. The MQ02 SSHD features a carriage lock mechanism that prevents the heads from sliding off the ramp and onto the media during power off. Activated automatically upon power down, the lock protects your drive from shocks of up to 900 G.

As with all Toshiba SSHDs, the MQ02 Series is halogen-free and RoHS compatible, making it a very environmentally friendly drive. That is continued in the adaptive power mode and serial ATA devices reduce power consumption without affecting performance. Supporting three levels of idle mode, the SSHD is supremely efficient and only draws up to 2 W during seek.

The mechanical drive has a spindle speed of 5400RPM and comes with 64MB cache. The  NAND part is 8GB big, enough to store a lot of frequent access data.

Toshiba is the only storage vendor that designs and develops both HDD and NAND flash memory that are the two core components of SSHD technology. This gives us a good security that they know what they are doing and that we get a quality drive.

We see a Marvell 88i9412 controller on the PCB along with the Toshiba MLC NAND and the Smooth L7289 spindle motor controller.

Synology DiskStation DS215+ 2-Bay NAS and All-In-One Server Review

Introduction


Last month I had the pleasure to take a look at the Synology DS715 [review here] 2-bay NAS and today I continue with Synology’s second recently released NAS, the Synology DiskStation DS215+.

The DS215+ is an all-in-one 2-bay NAS server that offers high performance while staying energy-efficient and providing a full set of business features. The dual-core CPU is powerful enough to handle multi-tasking applications and can help small and medium businesses to centralize their backups, protect critical assets, and share files quickly and efficiently – and that on a budget.

Inside the DiskStation DS215+, we find an Annapurna AL-212 dual core ARM processor with 1.4GHz with floating point unit and hardware encryption engine and 1GB DDR3 memory.

There are plenty of connection options on the DS215+ starting with the two Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports that allow you to set all modes of failover and link aggregation, including IEEE 802.3ad. The unit has two USB 3.0 ports for external drives and other devices as well as an eSATA port. Readers familiar with my reviews will know that I love it when they add the eSATA port as it is my preferred method of attaching external storage as it doesn’t have the same latency as USB does.

The hardware encryption engine coupled with the other improvements allow this unit to deliver twice the performance over the predecessor when dealing with encrypted storage.

Synology’s drive trays in these units are awesome and allow for a speedy setup as well as maintenance. The screw and tool-less design is as simple to use as pulling the sides off, inserting the drive and putting them back on. The trays are also lockable which is another bonus. You don’t eject them by accident and no false friend runs off with your drives that easy.

The software part is well covered by Synology’s DiskStation Manager (DSM), an operating system that has won a lot of rewards, and all well deserved. It comes with most basic and used features as standard and you’ll most likely find what is missing there in the add-on section. DSM is real easy to use and has great multi-tasking support.

One of the great features of DSM is the File station, a fast and secure way for sharing and managing your files stored on the DS215+. It has built-in FTP and email clients and allows drag and drop of files from both Windows and Mac OS systems. Mobile systems can do the same with the DS file app. HTTPS, SSL/TLS encryption, and link expiry dates also ensure file sharing over the Internet stays secure.

The basic file sharing on your network isn’t any problem for the DS215+ either as it supports it all. SMB2, FTP, NFS, WbDAV, windows AD and LDAP – you’ll find it all. Network recycle bin is also available on both AFP and CIFS shares.

The DS215+ allows for seamless account integration thanks to the User Home feature that automatically creates user folders to minimize effort while the Windows ACL support allows admins to fine-tune access controls and set up privileges through a familiar interface.

This is truly an all-in-one server as it is labeled with everything it supports. From file storage and media streaming over Mail servers and VPN servers, the DS215+ lets you do it all. It can also work as a print server with your USB printers and share them over the network as well as act as DNS server, Directory Server, RADIUS Server, DHCP Server, and Log Center. All that in one tiny box.

With the support of Windows AD, LDAP, and Domain Trust, DS215+ enables seamless account integration. The User Home feature can automatically create a “home” folder for every user account to minimize the administrator’s effort in repeatedly creating “home” folders for all accounts. Windows ACL support on DS215+ allows IT administrators to fine-tune access controls and set up privileges to files and folders on DS215+ through the familiar Windows user interface. With compatibility for major protocols, DS215+ can eliminate server configuration overhead and enhance IT administrators’ efficiency.

 

Backup and storage works in many ways and one very useful is the personal cloud the DS215+ allows you to set up. The Cloud Station allows you to sync files between devices in online and offline mode. The Cloud Station can remember up to 32 historical versions, encrypts the traffic, and can also sync between different NAS stations as well as mobile devices.

Security isn’t just well covered in the Cloud Station and Drives with the AES 256-bit encryption, the DS215+ also supports Antivirus and basic network security. You can also enable two-step verification for your users.

All of Synology’s mobile apps work great with this device, may they be DS note, DS audio, DS video, DS photo+, DS cloud, DS file, DS download, and DS cam. Everything right at your fingertips and on your smartphone or tablet.

 

That is a lot of functionality and features in one little device and one that saves both the environment and your wallet thanks to the low power consumption. When the HDDs hibernate, the DS215+ consumes just about 9W and less than 21 W when accessed. Thinking small can pay off in the long run.

Synology DiskStation DS715 2-Bay Value NAS Review

Introduction


It has been a while since I had the pleasure to review a Synology NAS which makes it even more of a pleasure to take the brand new Synology DiskStation DS715 2-bay NAS for a spin. And while it does look ordinary on the first glance, I can tell you it isn’t.

The DS715 is an expandable NAS server, equipped with a powerful quad-core processor with hardware encryption engine and the ability to expand up to 7 drives thanks to the optional expansion unit. You can’t just expand it with extra bays, you can also connect it with Synology’s High Availability (SHA) technology that combines active and passive servers into one cluster.

The DS715 looks to be a perfect balance between performance, features, and value – so let us take a closer look at it.

The Synology DS715 is built around the Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-314 quad-core processor with 1.4GHz. We’ve previously seen a great performance from just this chip in the DS1515 NAS. The CPU has both hardware encryption engine and floating point unit.

The DS715 comes with 2GB DDR3 memory and the drive bays support hot swapping as it has to be. The unit is rated for 16TB raw capacity on its own, but that limitation only exists based on the drives currently available. Nothing should block you from using 10TB or bigger drives ones they become available.

If that still isn’t enough for you, then you’ll just expand the NAS with the DX513 five-bay expansion unit. It gives additional storage on the fly while being supported as if they were internal drives. You can easily expand your overall raw capacity to 56TB with 8TB drives.

The two Gigabit Ethernet ports ensure the connectivity to your network. You can set seven modes of failover and link aggregation depending on your switching setup and need for redundancy and increased throughput. 802.3ad dynamic setup is just one of the available, but probably the most important of the modes.

The addition of an eSATA port is something I love to see and it is my personal preferred method of connecting external storage. It is also the method of connecting the aforementioned DX513 expansion unit. The two USB 3.0 ports allows you to connect other storage drives, printers, or cameras.

The drive trays are tool and screwless, at least for 3.5-inch drives. If you wish to use the NAS with 2.5-inch drives, then you’ll need the included screws to mount them. Otherwise you just pull off the sides on the tray, place the hard disk inside and put them back. All done. Slide the trays back into your NAS and get started. Plug and Play.

Synology’s operating system is called DiskStationa Manager (DSM) and it is now in version 5.2. It is a really robust system that is easy to use and one that brings plenty of features. It also has built-in NVR server, capable of hosting up to 30 IP cameras (900 FPS @ 720p). Two camera licenses are included and more will have to be purchased separately.

Windows AD, LDAP, and Domain Trust allow for seamless account integration with the rest of your equipment and also feature user home folders and Windows ACL. It doesn’t really matter how you want to connect it, you can.

The DS715 also comes with support for Synology Central Management System (CMS). CMS offers both flexibility and convenience for administrators, allowing them to manage all systems from a single point.

File sharing works with all major system, may it be Linux, Windows, or Mac OS. Included protocols are FTP, SMB2, AFP, NFS and WebDAV among others.

The Cloud Station allows for easy backup from all your system to the DS715 NAS and it also supports Rsync, backup to external drives, other NAS devices, or public cloud offerings.

A minor thing, but one that I love, is that Synology included two RJ45 LAN cables with this unit. An LAN cable doesn’t cost much and it is really annoying to get a unit as cool as this and then have to head out again to get an LAN cable so you can setup your link aggregation. Not so here, everything you need to get started, except the hard drives, is included.

WD Turns Their Blue Series Into SSHD Drives

Western Digital has a colourful range of hard drives which is kinda fitting right now with everyone turning their Facebook profile into a rainbow. We know the RED NAS drives very well from our review section and WD also has their Purple series for NVR, Black series for performance, Green series for the environment, and the Blue series that is kinda of the normal desktop series.

It has been a while since we’ve seen any new drives in the Blue series, but that has just changed as WD released the newest evolution of this drive series. The WD Blue series has turned into a SSHD series and gotten a NAND boost.

The new WD Blue series initially comes in two version, a 3.5-inch 4TB version (WD40E31X) and a 2.5-inch 1TB version (WD10J31X). Both of them have 64MB cache and 8GB MLC NAND.

The 4TB drive has a speed rating of 150MB/s while the 2.5-inch 1TB drive only performs up to 100MB/s. The NAND should however boost up the hot file access a lot and improve boot times as well as overall load times of frequently accessed data.

The two new WD Blue drives are expected to launch on July 2nd and come backed by a three-year limited warranty. As for the prices, the new WD Blue 4TB is currently listed starting from €189.90 and the 1TB is listed from €94.90.

WD My Cloud EX4100 4-Bay Expert Series 16TB NAS Review

Introduction


We ain’t all equally skilled when it comes to the configuration of network and storage devices nor is it everyone that has the same interest in that. Sometimes you just want to purchase something, enter your preferred name and password, and then be ready to rock.

WD’s My Cloud series is designed for just these scenarios and it comes equipped with drives and is pre-configured. All you need to do yourself is connect it, turn the power on, and set your password. Today I’m taking a closer look at the WD My Cloud EX4100 from the Expert series and will give it a good spin in the test area.

The MyCloud EX4100 it is a 4-bay NAS unit and in this case it comes pre-loaded with four 4TB WD RED drives. Other disk configurations are available if 16TB shouldn’t be the right match. You can get it from driveless all the way up to 24TB raw capacity.

You will need some power on the insides to handle what the EX4100 promises and it comes with a dual-core Marvell ARMADA 388 processor that clocks at 1.6GHz and 2GB DDR3 memory. This should be plenty, but if it shouldn’t be then the EX4100 also comes with three USB 3.0 ports allowing you to connect extra external storage.

Two gigabit Ethernet ports take care of the network traffic and they fully support both port trunking and link aggregation for failover redundancy and improved traffic capabilities.

A nice bonus for every device is the built-in display at the top of the unit. It allows you to quickly see what’s going on with your unit, its name, network details, and storage setup. It will also keep you updated on the progress when you changing major configurations such as the drive setup.

Just because the unit comes pre-equipped with four drives doesn’t mean that you can’t replace them with smaller, bigger, or just other ones if you want to – or in case you bought a driveless unit. The EX4100 supports hot-swapping and comes with easy-release front bays for quick access. Pop the slider and the drive will eject.

It comes as no surprise that WD used their own RED series of NAS drives in these units. They are built especially for NAS usage, so what better to pick. In this case, the unit is equipped with four of these 4TB drives. The WD RED series uses an IntelliPower RPM systems up to 5400 RPM and come with 64MB Cache.

The EX4100 doesn’t have any dedicated drive trays and is as such tool-less to upgrade. The drives are still firmly secured inside thanks to the large dividers. Not using drive caddies allows for a smaller and more narrow footprint, something anyone can appreciate.

The EX4100 supports RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 as well as JBOD and Spanning. While the RAID 0 to 60 modes are self-explanatory, how the terms JBOD and Spanning are used variates a bit, including Single disk. Essentially, JBOD and Spanning is the same thing but with a small difference. JBOD stands for Just a Bunch Of Disks, these can either be presented as single volumes or one large where they are used as extension for each other. Spanning, on the other hand, will create one large volume with all the drive space available and the drives don’t even need to be the same capacity.

JBOD stands for Just a Bunch Of Disks, these can either be presented as single volumes or one large where they are used as extension for each other. Spanning, on the other hand, will create one large volume with all the drive space available and the drives don’t even need to be the same capacity.

In the EX4100’s case, JBOD will result in four individual volumes and spanning will create one large volume without redundancy or performance improvements. As always, which mode i

As always, which mode you chose is down to your own needs. Whether you need a maximum amount of capacity, redundancy, performance improvements or a little of each.

Storage is just one side of the story, you also need to connect that storage somehow. The EX4100 comes with two Gigabit Ethernet ports that support both failover and port trunking.

The addition of a dual power supply system with a backup for emergency situations is awesome and something more NAS should feature. Any product can break for one reason or another and it should have a backup solution in case that happens.

The single and relative large 120mm fan helps to keep everything cool without creating too much noise. It only needs to rotate at low speeds to keep everything cool and operate optimally.

So far I’ve talked a lot about the hardware, but that’s just one side to the story. The software has to match with the right features, otherwise what would be the point.

It doesn’t matter if you want to connect to the WD MyCloud EX4100 from Windows, Linux, or your Mac OS based system, everything should be covered with Samba, Bonjour, and NFS3 support. The EX4100 also support VLAN, UPnP, iSCSI, SSH, and WebDAV and comes with an FTP server.

It is well suited to stream all your stored content to anything from smart devices to TVs and media players. Twonky’s UPnP media server, DLNA, and iTunes server are all present and it supports connection to devices such as WD TV Live, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows 8, connected TVs, Blu-ray players and digital picture frames.

Security is important everywhere and WD has that part covered too with features such as Active Directory support and 256-bit AES full volume encryption.

You can set up backup plans to local and remote locations as well as the same system, use Apple’s Time Machine, or use the cloud-based services Amazon and ElephantDrive. You can also sync drives with the attached USB 3.0 ports.

Security also involves power management and the EX4100 doesn’t just come with redundant PSU support, it can also control both network and USB connected UPS power backup devices.

Within the package you’ll find the NAS device with the drives inserted, a network cable, a power supply and, in this case two connector cables: one UK and one EU. There’s also a startup guide that will get you set up, even if you don’t know the darndest thing about NAS systems.

Remote access can not only be achieved through the web interface, you can also get both a desktop application and several mobile apps for your Android and iOS devices.

Other features such as a download server for both HTTP and P2P services, being IPv6 ready, supporting jumbo frames up to 9000 bytes, and SNMP for easy administrator management in larger environments are also all present.

If you’re concerned about the environment and having a device running all the time, then WD has you covered too. It features disk spin down when not need, which also will increase the drives lifespan, wake-on-LAN, automatic power recovery, and scheduled power on-off times.

The PCB has a simple build where only one side is utilized. The memory is soldered onto the board, so you can’t upgrade that, but that would also be kind of missing the target audience for a pre-setup unit.

We see that the memory used comes from SKhynix and the LAN ports are controlled by two Marvell 88E1512 chips. The USB 3.0 ports are controlled by a Renesas µPD720210 4-port hub controller.

WD Announced 7th Generation My Passport Portable Drives

WD took their highly successful My Passport portable hard drive for a redesign and overhauled the features to bring out the new My Passport Ultra portable hard drive and My Passport for Mac drives.

This is now the 7th generation of My Passport drives and they are now available with a capacity all the way up to 3TB while still maintaining the compact form factor and light weight.

Style is a matter of personal taste, so it is perfect that WD released the drive in four colours: Classic Black, Brilliant White, Wild Berry, and Noble Blue. My Passport Ultra also comes with built-in WD Backup software for easy backup of critical data.

Along with the new drives, WD also introduces a new optional accessory called the WD Grip Pack.  It is a soft band that will be available in a variety of colours for extra style and protection: smoke, slate, grape, sky and fuchsia. A matching USB cable is also included.

3TB capacity might be too much for you, so the drive will be available in other capacities too. 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB version are available too. Features include 256-bit AES hardware encryption and USB 3.0 connectivity. Mac users seem to want more space than the average other user and the WD My Passport for Mac won’t be available as 500GB model.

My Passport Ultra and My Passport for Mac have a Manufacturer’s Suggest Retail Price (MSRP) ranging from $79.99 up to $199.99 depending on capacity. The 3 TB capacity will be available next month. Both versions come with a 3-year limited warranty. The WD Grip Pack will be available in June and for an MSRP of $12.99.

WD Adds Plex Media Server Support for My Cloud Line Up

WD has made their My Cloud lineup of personal storage servers even better with the addition of the Plex Media Server. Plex is a very popular entertainment app and My Cloud users can now enjoy it too. Plex organizes video, music and photos from personal media libraries and streams them to smart TVs, streaming boxes and mobile devices.

“WD is committed to a robust application ecosystem for our customers and Plex is a key example of our vision,” said Sven Rathjen, vice-president & general manager, WD networked content solutions. “With today’s addition of the Plex app, the My Cloud NAS series will now be a one-stop shop to not only store and protect your most precious content, but to organize and stream that content to all your devices as well.”

The NAS market is very competitive and WD is committed to furthering its apps capabilities on the My Cloud product line up. New features now include stream support of file formats directly from your personal My Cloud NAS to any Plex app.

Other features include DLNA stream, effortlessly sharing of your media with friends and family and everything is wrapped up in one simple interface.

Plex Media Server is now available for the My Cloud Mirror, My Cloud EX2/EX4, My Cloud EX2100/EX4100 and My Cloud DL2100/4100 models.

WD RED 2.5-Inch 1TB in Four-Disk RAID Review

Introduction


Western Digital launched their WD RED line quite a while ago, and it’s been a successful one. We’ve previously had a look at how the 2.5-inch version with 1TB capacity performs as a single disk, but we’ve yet to look at how four of these will do in a RAID environment. The WD RED drives are primarily built for NAS usage, but they’re also well suited for SOHO users who want more performance and reliability in a small size.

Network attached storage is getting more traction every day and more and more people take the plunge into the world of NAS, but not everyone wants a large system. A tiny NAS with 2.5-inch drives is the solution, and the WD RED drives are perfect for this. They come as both 750GB and 1TB versions, but it’s the 1TB version that’s on the bench today.

The 2.5-inch WD drives run with an Intellipower spindle speed of 5400RPM and come with 16MB of cache, and an SATA 6Gbps interface. They’re rated to handle a workload of 120-150TB of data per year, which should be more data throughput than most small businesses will put their drives through.

The NAS optimized firmware, called NASware 2.0, is an exclusive technology to WD that gives their drives far more enhanced reliability with a 35% improvement in MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure) over their standard desktop drives, better compatibility with NAS systems, and a more energy-efficient operation which in turn leads to lower operating temperatures, a longer warranty for piece of mind and a system known as 3D Active Balance Plus. This dual-plane balance control, has helped to drastically increase the reliability of the drives – with a better balance, there are far fewer vibrations and this means the platters will degrade at a much lower rate thus increasing the longevity of the drive and its performance.

The 2.5-inhc drives themselves are 9.5mm thick, which really isn’t a lot considering the capacity. The drives are powered by the Marvell 88i9446-NDB2 high-performance storage controller and it is paired with the Samsung K4H2816380-LCC 16MB cache chip. The motor controller is WD’s own Nautilus that handles the Intellispeed capabilities.

Thecus N5810 Pro Zero-Crash 5-Bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


Thecus have created a new NAS that is something just a little bit special, if not a lot of special. It looks pretty normal on the surface, but it comes packed full of great features, plenty of storage abilities, and with connectivity options as they’re rarely seen.

The new Thecus Zero-Crash N5810 Pro isn’t your everyday NAS, it is one that comes with superior performance, unmatched security, and with built-in mini-UPS. The N5810 Pro is a 5-bay unit and this is an NAS form-factor that is increasing in popularity due to the option for an extra hot-spare, or just the extra capacity.

Let us dive right into the hardware specification, because they are worth highlighting. At the core of the unit we find an Intel Celeron J1900 quad-core SoC processor with 2GHz and the N5810 Pro comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 RAM right out the box. You don’t need to worry about having to upgrade your NAS right away with that kind of RAM, it is easily enough to run all the apps and service you want at the same time.

Where other NAS devices come with two and sometimes four LAN ports, Thecus added one extra and equipped this unit with a total of five Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is full support for all types of Link Aggregation and Fail-over, leaving the setup completely up to you. Maximum performance, redundancy, or you could even use it as an access point if you wanted to.

It has three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is located on the front for quick and easy backups. The last two are on the rear side with the rest of the connections such as two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Line-Out 3.5mm audio jack.

Thecus equipped the N5810 Pro with an internal 130W power supply. I really like the use of internal power supplies over the external power bricks, although the bricks are easier to replace if they should fail. Thecus also thought about that and made the PSU removable from the rear of the unit. It isn’t as easy as getting a new universal AC/DC adapter, but it’s close.

Another really awesome feature in this high-end NAS is the built-in mini-UPS with a removable battery. Again you save yourself having to get another piece of hardware and find room to place it near the NAS. You also save yourself the connecting and setting it up as everything is built-in. If the NAS should lose power, it will safely shut down without loss or corruption of your data. You can define the settings whether it should stay off or resume where it left off once the power is back.

The N5810 Pro NAS is placed on four large rubber feet that prevent any vibration from the mechanical hard drives to move onto whatever piece of furniture the NAS is placed on. They lift the unit far enough off the ground that it also has some extra air vents on the bottom that help to draw in more fresh and cold air for the system. The stickers with serial and product numbers are hidden away on the bottom if you should need those.

Security is an ever-growing issue and Thecus has this side of things handled with both their choice hardware, software and the physical build. Thecus has partnered with McAfee and bundled their Antivirus with the unit to keep the NAS save from itself. Those who prefer the private connections don’t need to worry either as the NAS fully supports VPN connections with the built-in server module.

Keeping the files safe means more than just to protect them from viruses and malware, and Thecus also has all the other sides of the story covered. The N5810 Pro supports scheduled Rsync backups and also comes bundled with Acronis True Image software for advanced one-click protection. Snapshot backup is equally supported with BTRFS support for subvolumes and easy rollback or restoration.

Those who wish to store their backup in the cloud are covered with support for DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive. If that still isn’t enough, Thecus also supports data burn directly to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks with Data Burn. You can also choose to just ‘burn’ ISO files as another way of backing up your files. You can even clone entire disks with the NAS.

The five drive caddies can all be locked individually and Thecus included a total of four keys with this unit. Enough for even the most clumsy people that forget or lose them. The caddie’s base is built from steel and covered with a plastic encasing that holds the locking system and two LEDs. Thecus places padding inside the caddies to prevent damage to your drives and possible short-outs from the PCB touching the caddy. They support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, so you’re covered no matter what drive you want to use, whether it’s small or big hard disks or even solid state drivers.

Thecus also built in a LCM display with four buttons on the front: enter, escape, up, and down. This not only allows you to view the current configuration, but also change settings. Not to worry, you’ll have to enter a password via the buttons in order to access that part.

Mobile connectivity is also supported with the T-OnTheGo and T-Dashboard apps. When I read those names I always think of Telecom first, but the T stands for Thecus in this case. You can connect from your iOS or Android device for up and downloading files, streaming media, or just to keep an eye on the device itself.

You can even turn the N5810 Pro into a direct multimedia hub for your living toom with the built-in HDMI. Connect it directly to your TV for device management, web browsing with Flash support, and also the most important function, HD video playback. No need to watch your movies on the PC monitor or have an extra HTPC running, just use your NAS. It also features a line-out connection to get the sound out to other devices if your monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers.

Western Digital Introduced the Purple NV 4TB and 6TB NVR HDDs

Western Digital introduced the new WD Purple NV hard disk, a purpose-built line of 3.5-inch high-capacity drives for the greater demands of scalable network video recorder (NVR) surveillance systems. The new Purple NV drives will be available as 4 TB and 6 TB hard drives to suit the ever growing need for video storage.

Compared with the standard WD Purple drives, the new member of the WD’s surveillance video recording family is designed for larger-scale network surveillance systems utilizing higher hard drive bay counts and greater numbers of attached cameras, which demand increased storage capacity and durability. The new drives’ high capacities also enable long video retention periods for analysis and reference.

“The global video surveillance market is expanding with the increased accessibility to easy-to-use systems for small businesses and municipalities,” said Matt Rutledge, senior vice president of HDD marketing at WD. “WD optimized the WD Purple NV line of hard drives for NVR digital surveillance systems to improve high-definition video playback for high-camera-count applications. NVR surveillance systems can produce incredible amounts of data which makes the WD Purple NV hard drives a perfect solution for NVR systems needing high quality recording and playback and high capacity storage.”

WD Purple NV is designed to withstand the demands of always-on digital NVR recording environments and at the same time it offers a low power consumption and many advanced performance features typically reserved for higher end surveillance storage. Among the features are the WD AllFrame technology that helps to reduce footage loss with a proprietary cache policy, the premium protection through tarnish-resistant components, and support for even the highest camera-count systems.

The new hard drives are covered by a three-year limited warranty and the drives will be available later this quarter, so before July sometime.

HGST Ships NVMe Ultrastar SN100 Series SSDs

HGST, that is a part of Western Digital, announced that they’re now shipping their newest and the industry’s highest-performing NVMe compliant SSDs, the Ultrastar SN100 Series. The PCIe SSD drives come as both HH-HL standard PCIe cards, but also packed in the SFF 2.5-inch form factor for easy deployment from the front of a system rather than having to open it up for maintenance, just to replace or add a drive.

The new SN100 series comes with some serious figures and will be available with up to 3.2TB capacity and a performance of over 700K IOPS. Wow. The 700K IOPS are for random read (4KB), but the rest of the figures are equally impressive. The random mixed read/write IOPS (70/30, 4KB) come in at 310K and the random 4K write IOPS are specified to 160K. The SN100 series sequential throughput is rated at 3000MB/s read and 1600MB/s write.

There is also an 800GB and a 1.6TB version of the drive beside the 3.2TB version. Features include flash-aware RAID, end-to-end data-path protection, advanced ECC, secure erase and power fail protection. The drives are rated for three complete drive writes per day, have an 2 million hour MTBF and come backed by a 5-year warranty.

The Ultrastar SN150 HH-HL add-in card is shipping now, but the 2.5-inch SFF Ultrastar SN100 SSDs won’t be available until May. The drives can also be experienced live at the Percona Live MySQL Conference and Expo at booth #202.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPFR4CNCxO4

WD Introduced My Passport X with 2 TB for Xbox One and PC

Games keep increasing in size and having a game with 50GB data isn’t an unusual thing these days. This is particular a problem for console users with limited space and it ends with the result that they have to pick which games to keep on the drive and which to delete. WD has released the My Passport X 2TB drive for Xbox One and PC Gamers to store up to 50 extra game titles, or more if they’re smaller. It also allows to take the game files with you to a friend or other system without having to redownload them.

“Game file sizes are expanding to 36 GB per game and upwards, and are projected to continue growing,” said Tony Tate, vice president and general manager of WD’s Content Solutions unit. “Console gamers are able to store on average only 10 games on the 365 GB out of 500 GB that is available on the onboard hard drive. The My Passport X portable drive delivers a fast and easy way to expand capacity and enables an expanded library of games on the go.”

The drive connects through a USB 3.0 port for fast enough transfer speeds to actually run things directly from the drive. Just plug it in and follow the instructions on the screen, coming from your Xbox One. The drive is available now at wdstore.com, Amazing, Best Buy and other distributors. The WD My Passport 2TB HDD comes with an MSRP of $139.99 and a 1-year limited warranty.

Thanks to WD for providing us with this information.

Western Digital RED 6TB 3.5″ NAS HDD Four Disk RAID Review

Introduction


We have recently taken a look at the WD RED 6TB hard disk drive designed for NAS usage, and today it is time to see how these drives perform in a 4-disk RAID setup. Western Digital was so nice to provide us with all these wonderful drives for our NAS testing, so it will be great to have a baseline performance directly on our test bench. I’ve been wanting to do this review for quite some time, but had some trouble with my old motherboard. Actually it was a BIOS issue where it had forgotten about its RAID feature, but that’s an old story by now and I have since got a brand new and working motherboard.

WD Red drives are designed specifically for home and small office NAS systems and PCs with RAID. The last one is our queue and is what I will be doing, testing these drives on an Intel RAID controller in various configurations.

The WD Red drives are built primarily for a NAS (Network Attached Storage) environment, but are equally suited for small offices and home users who just want drives that deliver an enterprise level of performance and reliability without the hefty price tag that used to come along.

Network Attached Storage is making a bigger entry than ever before, and not just for businesses. Home users are investing in NAS devices like never before, and with good reason. We have more and more smart devices capable of using our files and we collect more and more data with the increasing resolution advances. Conclusion, we need more storage capacity.

Small and medium businesses, just as home users, will benefit greatly from using the new 6TB WD RED drives. They come with the latest firmware optimized for use in NAS environments and NASware 3.0 supports the use of enclosures with up to 8 bays.

Some people still think a hard disk is a hard disk and that there isn’t any real difference. They are wrong, there are huge differences between drives. Every type of hard disk is optimized for one type of usage and will both perform best and live longest when operated within the given specs.

What you might save in the short run by buying desktop drives, will cost you a lot more in the end. Not only will you need to buy new drives when they fail on you, you also risk losing your data. It is a bit like using an SUV as a tractor, it might work well for some time but you’ll eventually ruin the fine machinery. And since the WD RED drives don’t cost much more than most desktop drives, there really isn’t any need to comprise, get the right drives for the job.

Western Digital is backing the drives with a three-year warranty. It has 64MB onboard cache and that is a relevant factor that severely increases the transfer rates. Speaking of which, the WD RED 6TB can achieve up to 175MB/s internal transfer rates.

The drives are rated to handle a workload of 120-150TB of data per year, well over the data throughput that most small businesses will ever put their drives through.

New WD Re+ Hard Drive Offers 6 TB While Consuming Only 6 Watts

Western Digital has introduced a new data centre hard drive with high-capacity and low power consumption. The WD Re+ hard drive family is the newest component of WD’s portfolio that further got expanded with 6TB capacities for WD’s popular Re and Se product lines.

The WD Re+ drive provides the most power efficient and high-intensity high-capacity platform available today, it only consumes 6 watts for 6 TB. The WD Re+ hard drive family features a dense five-platter platform, which renders an optimal mix of low power consumption, high-capacity, 24 x 7 x 365-reliability and affordability.

“Dollars and watts are the finite currencies in the modern datacenter,” said Matt Rutledge, senior vice president of storage technology at WD. “With a leading watt-per-gigabyte ratio and the long-trusted reliability of the WD Re hard drive platform, WD Re+ offers our customers having limited power budgets a WD Re-class choice for tier-2, high-intensity storage applications. Massive, scale-out deployments must deliver tremendous value to customers across a range of applications, while providing a healthy return to the infrastructure owner. WD is focused on offering that value across its portfolio.”

The drives have a 1.2m hours MTTF and enhanced RAFF technology to increase vibration tolerance. The reliability rating of 550 TB-per-year workload is the highest of any WD 3.5-inch hard drive.

  • Vibration protection – Enhanced RAFF technology monitors the drive and corrects both linear and rotational vibration in real time. The result is a significant performance improvement in high vibration environments over the previous generation of drives.
  • Dual actuator technology – A head positioning system with two actuators improves positional accuracy over the data track(s). The primary actuator provides coarse displacement using conventional electromagnetic actuator principles. The secondary actuator uses piezoelectric motion to fine tune the head positioning to a higher degree of accuracy.
  • StableTrac – The motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking during read and write operations.
  • Multi-axis shock sensor – Automatically detects the subtlest shock events and compensates to protect the data.
  • RAID-specific, time-limited error recovery (TLER) – Prevents drive fallout caused by the extended hard drive error-recovery processes common to desktop drives.
  • NoTouch ramp load technology – The recording head never touches the disk media ensuring significantly less wear to the recording head and media as well as better drive protection in transit.
  • Thermal extended burn-in test – Each drive is put through extended burn-in testing with thermal cycling to ensure reliable operation.
  • Dynamic fly height technology – Each read-write head’s fly height is adjusted in real time for optimum reliability.
  • Dual processor – Twice the processing power to maximize performance.
  • 3D Active Balance Plus – Our enhanced dual-plane balance control technology significantly improves the overall drive performance and reliability. Hard drives that are not properly balanced may cause excessive vibration and noise in a multi-drive system, reduce the hard drive life span, and degrade the performance over time.

The new Re+ drives have started to ship and should be available shortly while the WD Re and Se 6TB model will be available next quarter. The Re+ drives are also covered by a five-year warranty

Thanks to WD for providing us with this information