Western Digital Rebrands non-SMR HDDs as ‘Red Plus’

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Western Electronic has been in scorching water for months around its attempt to market SMR hard drives into the WD Red solution spouse and children. Red drives are explicitly intended for NAS (Network Hooked up Storage) gadgets, and as we’ve found in many investigations, SMR drives from WD do not normally complete sufficiently in that job.

Western Digital’s answer to the challenge is to produce a new tier of products, dubbed “Red Furthermore.” Heading ahead, WD Red will be a three-tiered process. All SMR hard drives will be sold as ‘Red,’, while the CMR drives that formerly populated the Red spouse and children will be rebranded as “Red Furthermore.” The Red Professional spouse and children will not improve.

Individually, I would’ve chosen keeping CMR (Traditional Magnetic Recording) drives as ‘Red’ and labeling the new SMR drives a little something else, but WD desires to keep the fiction that it hasn’t just bait-and-switched the overall Red solution spouse and children by dumping the onus to find out about the difference on its personal consumer base. Shoppers who presently personal CMR WD Red drives will have to intuit the have to have to substitute them with Red Furthermore drives when the existing styles fall short.

In accordance to WD’s blog publish on the topic, the travel-managed SMR drives it sells are intended for NAS gadgets with incredibly small over-all throughput and a wonderful offer of idle time to complete qualifications processing. Qualifications processing is how SMR drives retain appropriate functionality while moving information in programmed read through/erase cycles, not in contrast to these employed by SSDs. For additional aspects on how SMR drives operate, remember to see our past coverage right here and right here.

Western Electronic states this challenge transpired since “The explosion of information found these days has spawned a spectrum of NAS employs circumstances, as effectively as increasingly demanding apps.” I really do not obtain this to be an appropriate or credible rationalization, and I really do not feel you should really either. The challenge I have with WD’s statements on this topic is simple: It’s virtually the manufacturers’ position to make selected that its objective-marketed hard drives complete excellently in the components it is intended to work in. ZFS not participating in good with SMR is incredibly much a recognized challenge. It just (in some way) was not recognized to WD.

WD claims to complete considerable validation tests on different NAS arrays, which will make it seem like ZFS configurations might have just fallen through the cracks. But this variety of early evaluation is exactly what WD is envisioned to complete, and information from iX Techniques — a seller WD specially references functioning with on its blog — displays that WD didn’t complete that validation process correctly. From iX Techniques:

At the very least a single of the WD Red DM-SMR styles (the 4TB WD40EFAX with firmware rev 82.00A82) does have a ZFS compatibility difficulty which can result in it to enter a faulty state under major write masses, including resilvering…

In the faulty state, the WD Red DM-SMR travel returns IDNF faults, gets to be unusable, and is handled as a travel failure by ZFS. In this state, information on that travel can be misplaced. Information inside of a vdev or pool can be misplaced if various drives fall short.

WD has been delivery these hard drives due to the fact late 2018. Problems have been stacking up the overall time. What WD seems to have accomplished is to presume buyers would magically know that their travel-managed SMR implementation experienced complications with ZFS. There was no outstanding promoting materials or steering printed by the organization to tutorial people absent from SMR drives and towards CMR if they intended to use ZFS, at the very least not till now. There was no distinct information on the dramatic functionality difference that can come up involving SMR and CMR HDDs, as revealed by ServeTheHome:


Image by ServeTheHome

WD claims to be listening, but states, in the incredibly following paragraph: “The DMSMR drives met all of our test needs.”

The only factor that assertion tells us is that WD’s test needs are not complete adequate. Telling me “these drives meet up with test requirements” when the drives are failing in conclude-user deployments isn’t a protection, it’s an indictment. It should really be pointed out that this difficulty has been assumed to effects all SMR drives in selected NAS arrays. WD is the only organization offering SMR drives into these devices, but the firmware concerns iX Techniques raises implies that some complications could theoretically be prompted by (or improved by) firmware updates. This seems to be a complicated query, even so, and the essential way SMR drives complete write operations implies they can not match CMR travel functionality in selected duties. Firmware could strengthen issues, but only to a selected issue.

I really do not disagree with Western Digital’s assert that SMR drives can deal with some diploma of NAS workloads and configurations, but this challenge should really hardly ever have happened in the initially spot. If you intend to use ZFS, you are going to want to obtain Red Furthermore or Red Professional drives — or it’s possible hard drives from a unique seller altogether.

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