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Western Digital Defends DM-SMR on WD Red HDDs, Points Users to WD Red Pro or WD Gold

btarunr

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Western Digital gave its first response to allegations of the company implementing SMR (shingled magnetic recording) on its WD Red internal hard drives without properly documenting it. The WD Red series is extensively marketed as being "NAS optimized," which caused many NAS and RAID DAS enthusiasts to pick it up for home-office use, only to discover that the company's implementation of drive-managed SMR (DM-SMR) makes them effectively unfit for RAID use, as DM-SMR is vital for some of the higher-capacity WD Red models to achieve their nameplate capacity, while coming at a heavy cost of random write performance.

"SMR is tested and proven technology that enables us to keep up with the growing volume of data for personal and business use. We are continuously innovating to advance it. SMR technology is implemented in different ways - drive-managed SMR (DMSMR), on the device itself, as in the case of our lower capacity (2 TB - 6 TB) WD Red HDDs, and host-managed SMR, which is used in high-capacity data center applications. Each implementation serves a different use case, ranging from personal computing to some of the largest data centers in the world.," Western Digital writes.



Western Digital explains that the WD Red family of HDDs were designed for smaller-scale home-office NAS applications - "one to eight bays" in scale, with workload rate of 180 TB/year. The company states that the drives have been tested and validated by major NAS manufacturers - a response to the SMR controversy blowing up on NAS manufactrurers' support forums.

Western Digital was vague about how it plans to make up to aggrieved WD Red users. It points them to their support site, stating "We know you entrust your data to our products, and we don't take that lightly. If you have purchased a WD Red drive, please call our customer care if you are experiencing performance or any other technical issues. We will have options for you."

The company pointed serious NAS customers (applications of a scale higher than mentioned), to consider WD Red Pro, WD Gold, or even Ultrastar enterprise HDDs.

View at TechPowerUp Main Site
 
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sounds like backpedalling....

looks like backpedalling.....

smells like backpedalling.....

Guess what: it IS backpedalling....

Shame on you WD, tsk tsk tsk :(
 
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sounds like backpedalling....

looks like backpedalling.....

smells like backpedalling.....

Guess what: it IS backpedalling....

Shame on you WD, tsk tsk tsk :(

Actually it sounds like they are standing their ground, which is worse.
 
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And to think of it, how blindly I was sworing by the Red... :eek:

I guess the time for enterprise-grade SSD storage has come. I was in doubt what to get - Ultrastar or some beefy SSD. Thanks for making it easier for me, WD (and all the rest of the liars).
 
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sounds like backpedalling....

looks like backpedalling.....

smells like backpedalling.....

Guess what: it IS backpedalling....

Shame on you WD, tsk tsk tsk :(
Someone is over-reacting.

I have no problem with the use of the technology, only that it should be disclosed along with performance specs. It's as simple as that.

Actually it sounds like they are standing their ground, which is worse.
Not really. WD should have disclosed it, true, but it's not like its a design flaw. It's a type of recording tech that is used reliably and without fail.
 
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Not really. WD should have disclosed it, true, but it's not like its a design flaw. It's a type of recording tech that is used reliably and without fail.

It's the marketing targeting. They have always positioned Red for RAID going back to the line it derived from, "RAID Edition." I mean it used to literally be called that.

They needed to clear the air more. Is it huge? No. But an SMR drive being a Red is a bigger deal than any other drive being SMR.
 
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I don't think they addressed the issue where they silently switched technology here without even any announcement or indication of the change. Just as I mentioned, such tactics is basically (1) to cut cost further, and (2) drive people to get the higher end drives. Its a dirty way of doing business. I am glad we are moving away from mechanical drives. With next gen consoles also moving to SSD, demand for mechanical drives will drop even further.
 

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No one argues about SMR beig tested.

People are pissed off because it was being smuggled into a product that contained none before.
It should have been announced and clearly marked on a box.

This smells as another class-action lawsuit...
 
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Someone is over-reacting.

I have no problem with the use of the technology, only that it should be disclosed along with performance specs. It's as simple as that.


Not really. WD should have disclosed it, true, but it's not like its a design flaw. It's a type of recording tech that is used reliably and without fail.

if a tech has a regression vs what its replacing, its called a flaw, sometimes flaws are considered worth accepting, but that view may not be universal, for that reason this should be disclosed on the specs.

Do I think 20% capacity is worth it for destroyed random writes? personally no. Especially when its on a drive I know can be manufactured with CMR, and its only SMR to increase profits.

It is a bit like the QLC vs TLC arguments, QLC only offers a small increase in capacity, with some quite nasty downsides. Yet we getting consumers buying QLC drives because they naive to the technical changes (newer is better).
 
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Someone is over-reacting.

I have no problem with the use of the technology, only that it should be disclosed along with performance specs. It's as simple as that.


Not really. WD should have disclosed it, true, but it's not like its a design flaw. It's a type of recording tech that is used reliably and without fail.

There is no over-reacting. WD stopped putting this data in it's information quite a while ago for a reason... and it wasn't to be transparent to the consumer, it was to hide the fact that the drives had switched from CMR to SMR. I've made a point to research every drive I purchase to avoid this because of write times and reliability, starting when Seagate quietly switched... and while I don't purchase their stuff because of reliability issues for my use, they at least had it in the product description. While there isn't a problem with SMR if it fits the use case, I regularly purchase WD's drives and they made a regressive change that needed to be in the product description. Going from conventional to shingled in an NAS drive is a flaw. It's the same thing with SSDs listed as MLC in a search, but describing the MLC as 3-bit in the fine print.
 

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This has basically been WD's method for a few years now. They have slowly been rebranding lower quality product into their higher products.

Just some examples: The WD Green 5400RPM drives were rebranded WD Blue. The old 7200RPM Blue drives are now pushed up to WD Black. The old dual-processor WD Black drives are gone as far as I can tell. Now they using SMR designs that were their lowest cost Archive drives and have bumped those up to Red.
 
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I checked the 3tb red they sent me to replace a failed drive a few months back and thankfully it has the CMR serial on it.
Also the 4tb red I purchased around the same time is CMR also luckily.
 
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if a tech has a regression vs what its replacing, its called a flaw
No it isn't. Please review;
Do I think 20% capacity is worth it for destroyed random writes? personally no.
Opinion. Writes to disk of the truly "random" variety happen very infrequently and thus do not greatly affect overall performance. Contextual perspective is important.
to avoid this because of write times and reliability
Writes, maybe, see above. Reliablity? Nonsense. SMR is perfectly reliable.
starting when Seagate quietly switched...
Rubbish. SMR was announced almost a decade ago and very publicly. No one is "hiding" anything.

Take the tinhats off people and quit with the WD bashing, you're embarrassing yourselves..
 
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The SMR technology is public for a long time but the drive makers do not mention that a drive uses SMR on the spec sheet. Many consumers can't make a good purchasing decision since this information is not easily available. SMR drives can be a lot slower in certaion situations so the manufacturer should put this info out. Then the customer can decicide to get a more expensive regular drive or a cheaper SMR, depening on their requirements.
 
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This has basically been WD's method for a few years now. They have slowly been rebranding lower quality product into their higher products.

Just some examples: The WD Green 5400RPM drives were rebranded WD Blue. The old 7200RPM Blue drives are now pushed up to WD Black. The old dual-processor WD Black drives are gone as far as I can tell. Now they using SMR designs that were their lowest cost Archive drives and have bumped those up to Red.

Speaking of rebrands (though unsure if this counts), what about Hitachi's (HGST) Ultrastar line when WD bought their hard drive business? Did anything with the Ultrastar line change in a technical perspective? I am fairly certain that the Ultrastar line does not use SMR as these are enterprise grade drives, but I could not find any confirmation on WD's site in their datasheet or manual. My company used HGST drives in their servers with great success in the past. If anyone could clarify this, I would really appreciate it. Before posting I needed a refresher when WD acquired HGST, which I found was in 2012. It was not until 2018 that they dropped the HGST branding from the drives, so maybe nothing changed? I am astonished it has been that long since the acquisition.

On a side-note regarding the WD Green drives, I never knew they were rebranded Blue drives. Maybe I was distracted from the 'Intellipower' (variable RPMs) WD was mentioning with those drives, therefore assuming they were different drives altogether. Other than that they were the same as stated? Thanks.
 
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This is disgusting and the only thing that can be done is stop buying their crap.
 

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Opinion. Writes to disk of the truly "random" variety happen very infrequently and thus do not greatly affect overall performance. Contextual perspective is important.

It happens quite a bit during a RAID rebuild or OCE or ORLM. We aren't talking about single storage drives here.

No one is "hiding" anything.

If they weren't hiding anything, they'd list it in the specs. That's the argument we are making here. If SMR is fine, higher capacities are nice, but on a product that is marketed to be used in RAID environments it needs to be disclosed that it is using SMR.

ALSO, WD's original response when asked about the SMR Red drives was to deny that they even made SMR drives with the exception of their 20TB Enterprise drive that won't be in the consumer market. So yes, they are very much trying to hide that their drives use SMR.

I checked the 3tb red they sent me to replace a failed drive a few months back and thankfully it has the CMR serial on it.
Also the 4tb red I purchased around the same time is CMR also luckily.

Crap, you reminded me that I had two 4TB Reds sitting on my desk that I just bought. I checked and both are SMR...fuck! Thank god I didn't try to deploy them into the RAID arrays. It probably would have failed during the OCE leaving the array degraded.
 
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It happens quite a bit during a RAID rebuild or OCE or ORLM.
True, but often does that happen? Personally, the last time I has to rebuild a RAID5 array was many years ago. RAID has become VERY reliable.
If SMR is fine, higher capacities are nice, but on a product that is marketed to be used in RAID environments it needs to be disclosed that it is using SMR.
Agreed, it should be disclosed, by ALL HDD makers not just WD. WD is not the only offender on this point.
ALSO, WD's original response when asked about the SMR Red drives was to deny that they even made SMR drives
Citation?
 
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SMR is garbage technology and I will never buy another SMR hard drive. Shame on Western Digital.
 

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True, but often does that happen? Personally, the last time I has to rebuild a RAID5 array was many years ago. RAID has become VERY reliable.

The reliability of RAID doesn't matter, the reliability of the drives matter here. And it only has to happen once for you to be f'ed. Hell, I'm rebuilding a RAID5 array right now.

Plus there is the issues of OCE or ORLM, both of which would have very bad problems if you decided to add one of these new RED drives to an array. Can you just imagine someone who is running out of space on the RAID5 array, so they pick up another "matching" 4TB WD RED drive to expand their array, only to have the OCE fail and now they are sitting with a critical array with no redundancy until they get another 4TB drive to put in the array. Oh, so they think they just happened to get a bad drive, and return it for a new one, then that one fails too. They are left wondering why they keep putting in new drives only to have the OCE fail and their array sits critical one drive failure away from losing all their data. And since an OCE/ORLM is basically a rebuild, it has a higher chance of another drive dying during the process.

Agreed, it should be disclosed, by ALL HDD makers not just WD. WD is not the only offender on this point.

It would be nice if it was always disclosed, but it only needs to be disclosed on products designed for RAID/NAS use.

Also note that Seagate has made a statement that they will never use SMR in a NAS/RAID product.

Citation?

When the issue was first brought to WD's attention a representative named Yemi Elegunde, an enterprise and channel sales manager for Western Digital UK, stated:

Just a quick note. The only SMR drive that Western Digital will have in production is our 20TB hard enterprise hard drives and even these will not be rolled out into the channel.

All of our current range of hard drives are based on CMR Conventional Magnetic Recording.

With SMR Western Digital would make it very clear as that format of hard drive requires a lot of technological tweaks in customer systems.

It's in the original smartmontool's ticket.
 
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I guess someone could sue WD over that lie.
 
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Writes, maybe, see above. Reliablity? Nonsense. SMR is perfectly reliable.

It's not that SMR isn't reliable, it's that SMR is not as reliable as CMR with all else being equal. Seagate wasn't advertising SMR in it's drives as a selling point. That information was quietly buried in the fine print, but at least it was available in the product information. It's also tin foil, not tin.
 
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It's not that SMR isn't reliable, it's that SMR is not as reliable as CMR with all else being equal.
Rubbish. SMR is perfectly reliable. It's just slower and not by much, there is no other issue.
Seagate wasn't advertising SMR in it's drives as a selling point. That information was quietly buried in the fine print, but at least it was available in the product information. It's also tin foil, not tin.
Semantics.
 

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Rubbish. SMR is perfectly reliable. It's just slower and not by much, there is no other issue.

Bull. In this application, they are regularly significantly slower. To the point of being unsable for what they are advertised for.
 
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