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WD Releases 5 TB And 6 TB RE and SE Models, New RE+ Power-Optimized HDDs

By - Source: WD

The datacenter has a seemingly endless appetite for raw capacity, and a new line of drives from WD brings the company up to speed with the competition. WD announced an expansion of the RE and SE HDD models up to 5 TB and 6 TB options. It also announced a new RE+ model that is geared specifically to deliver the industry's lowest power consumption, on a GB-per-Watt basis, for a 3.5-inch HDD.

High-capacity HDDs in RAID can become more of a hindrance than an asset due to prohibitively lengthy rebuild times. This has sparked the move to distributed erasure coding schemes, key/value stores, and replication. The HDD manufacturers are responding in kind with drives tuned to the new realities of the datacenter, and the new WD RE+ is a prime example of this shift.

The RE+ takes a divergent path from its other high-capacity siblings to operate within a reduced power envelope. The RE+ takes the speed down a notch to 5,760 RPM, a sizable reduction from the 7,200 RPM featured on other drives in its class. According to WD, the RE+ boasts the industry's best performance-per-Watt and the best GB-per-Watt ratios for high-capacity enterprise-class HDDs.

The RE+ draws a meager 6 watts for the 6 TB model, which will deliver huge power savings when deployed at scale in cloud computing environments. The RE+ still employs the same 5-platter design along with the expected WD trimmings, such as RAFF rotational vibration detection and resistance, a 1.2 million hour MTTF, and a 550 TB-per-year workload rating.

The RE+ is only available with a SATA 6 Gbps connection, which typically draws less power than SAS drives, albeit with fewer features. The RE+ encroaches upon HGST's (WD's subsidiary) He6 helium drives, which are designed specifically to provide the lowest power consumption. Sequential transfer speed for the He6 and the RE+ are similar (177/175 MBps, respectively) along with power consumption, although the RE+ ekes out a 1-watt advantage.

The HGST He8 is waiting in the wings, and it should feature a slightly lower Watts-per-TB metric. Seagate also has an 8 TB Archive HDD in the works as well, which nearly dips to the same power draw of the He8. The Seagate drive has an exceptionally low price but sacrifices some performance due to the SMR architecture.

"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." 

WD also announced 5 TB and 6 TB offerings for the SE and RE product lines. The vanilla RE models also lack SAS flavors. WD previously offered SAS models with the RE, so this may signal a broader movement away from SAS in WD's high-capacity portfolio.

The standard RE features similar reliability specifications and features in comparison to the RE+ model, but slightly higher power consumption and performance (up to 225 MBps), due to its 7,200 RPM spindle speed.

The WD SE is geared for lighter workloads in replicated environments and delivers up to 214 MBps of sequential throughput. The SE is geared for lighter workloads, but there isn’t an exact TB/year figure available at the time of publication. All three new HDDs are covered by WD's standard enterprise HDD five-year warranty. The RE+ is shipping immediately to OEM customers for qualification, and the RE and SE 6 TB drives will be available for qualification next quarter.

The HDD manufacturers are all taking different paths to achieve reduced power consumption and refined TCO, but there is likely no single best answer for all environments. The high-capacity HDD segment is heating up, and we already have several of the competing drives in the lab. Look to these pages soon for a string of product evaluations that will bring our readers up to speed on the datacenter HDD segment.