Hard drives… It seems that today this type of storage is in hibernation, no battles, breakthrough solutions, nothing special, everything is quiet and calm. Behind the scenes, hard drives have not yet been replaced by solid state drives, although demand for them is constantly decreasing. In volume calculations, they are still the leaders: for all quarters of 2019, HDDs were shipped for about 350 Exabytes of volume, while SSDs were only 200 Exabytes. Yes, and the average volume is growing, and if at the beginning of 2019 it was 2.5 TB, then by the end it had already become 2.7 TB. And on the horizon, in addition to the tiled recording and helium filling already familiar to the user, MAMR (Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording) and HAMR (Heat-assisted magnetic recording) technologies are developing, which promise average storage volumes in the region of 50 TB. But, as they say, “this is a completely different story” and for sure many people are interested to know how things are with hard drives at the beginning of the new decade.
The test subjects will be two large Seagate IronWolf drives — ST10000VN0008 for 10 TB and ST16000VN001 for 16 TB. These hard drives are specially sharpened for use in NAS storage.
Both are plain versions with a 3 year warranty. Older IronWolf Pro drives have a 5-year warranty, as well as a 2-year subscription to the Data Recovery Rescue service, which also works in Ukraine (to activate it, you need to register the hard drive by serial number). In our country, Seagate was the first to offer single 16TB drives. Visually, the considered models differ only in the control board.
|Number of plates/heads||9/18||8/15||8/13||6/12||5/10||3/6|
|Spindle speed, rpm||7200||5400||5900|
|Cache memory, MB||256||64|
|Maximum read speed, MB/s||210||180|
|Number of on/off cycles, thousand||600 000|
|Mean time between failures, h||1 000 000|
|Noise level (waiting/search), dB||28/30||18/28||28/32||26/27||23/25|
|Power consumption (standby/work), W||5,3/7,3||5/7,8||7,6/8,8||3,4/5,3||3,95/4,8|
|Dimensions (LxWxH), mm||146.99×101.85×26.11|
|Cost on Western Internet sites / in Ukrainian retail||$510/15209 UAH||$460/14534 UAH||$325/10879 UAH||$307/9910 UAH||$222/7872 UAH||$180/5694 UAH||$115/3596 UAH|
*— not all models of the series are presented in the table.
Before us are the usual 3.5″ form factor hard drives with a SATA interface, but unlike the younger models of 8 TB or less, they are sealed and filled with helium. The latter provides many advantages, due to the sevenfold superiority in lightness compared to typical air (which is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 1% other gases) you can:
- inside the drive it is much more accurate to position the heads, which means to increase the recording density;
- the helium environment leads to a decrease in the cost of forces for the rotation of pancakes, which means a gain in terms of heating and power consumption of the hard drive;
- physically reduce the weight of the entire hard drive, in addition to the obvious, this also reduces the vibrations generated by the hard drive;
- complete sealing of the most delicate nodes, which means a greater threshold of resistance to moisture, dust and other things.
Hard drives can be initialized without problems on any modern platform, or in an external pocket. When installing the drive in branded NAS, for example, Asustor, Qnap, Synology, etc., you can use the IronWolf Health Management (IHM) software package, which monitors important parameters, diagnoses the device and restores data. Against the background of the classic SMART, more than 200 drive telemetry parameters are taken into account, which allows you to warn the user in advance of potential problems with the hard drive, as well as advise on possible actions to prevent such problems.
In addition, hard drives are able to stabilize the platters using rotational vibration sensors. This technology is called AgileArray. It comes in handy not only in NAS, where hard drives will be located next to each other, but also in 1U servers, where 40mm fans create noticeable vibrations (not surprising when the rotation speed is more than 20,000 rpm).
A funny moment, according to information from the official website — the 16 TB model weighs less than the younger 10 TB, and this is true.
Test stand and methodology
Testing was carried out on the following configuration:
- Processor: Intel Core i9-9900K;
- cooling: Intel Box (e97378-003, Delta);
- thermal interface: Arctic Cooling MX-4;
- motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XI Gene (Intel Z390, UEFI 1302);
- memory: HyperX Predator HX441C19PB3/8 x2 (4266MHz, CL 19-26-26-45 2T);
- graphics card: Intel UHD Graphics 630;
- system drive: Kingston KC2000 250GB (SKC2000M8250G);
- second drive: HyperX Predator 480GB (SHPM2280P2H/480G);
- power supply: Rosewill Hercules-1600S (1600 W);
- operating system: Microsoft Windows 10 LTSC (1809) 64-bit / Microsoft Windows Server 2019 Standard 64-bit;
ПО: Intel DCH Graphics Driver 22.214.171.12470, Intel Chipset Software 10.1.18, HWMonitor 1.4.1;
- for tests on Linux: CentOS 8.1.1911 64-bit, Sysbench 1.0.19.
Temperatures were measured using the HWMonitor program, for a stress test, a load was used in the form of seeding / downloading 50 torrents simultaneously for six hours. Benchmarks were passed at the default parameters on the presets indicated in the charts. Sysbench emulates 192 concurrent 100% read/100% write/read+write threads on a 64-file array with a total of 100 GB (4K block) to demonstrate the possibilities in using NAS/DC.
Let’s start with CrystalDiskMark, typical default settings.
The older model outperforms the IronWolf 10TB by about 10% in linear reading.
In ATTO Disk Benchmark, drawdowns start at 16 KB blocks and below. Large blocks keep +/- the same speed.
We’re going into hard mode. Let’s check each hard drive in CentOS 8. Both drives have a single partition for the entire available area. Formatted in ext4 file system.
Let’s pass a test built into the OS with parameters of 100 samples of 1GB for reading and writing, as well as 1000 samples for evaluating access time:
The built-in benchmark shows similar results with tests in Windows. In addition, the behavior in the initial and final area of the hard disk is clearly visible. Now imagine that the subjects went to the data center and received a serious load.
Not bad. You never expect a large number of IOPS from hard drives, but these same 550–600 IOPS are a lot, as for hard drives with a SATA interface. Typically, this requires a single 15,000 RPM SAS drive, or a RAID 0/5 of three SATA drives. Even in an aggressive manner of operation, the test subjects behave with dignity, let alone use in a simple home or office NAS. What about non-obvious tasks?
Test in games
Let’s do an interesting experiment. Which is less time consuming? Download the entire library of games to your hard drive once and keep it on the drive for life or spend time downloading the game to a PCIe SSD, delete it when you get bored, but how do you want to play again after a conditional season / six months / a year? After all, it is already obvious that in 95% of cases the advantage will remain with a solid state drive, even if it is SATA, even if it is NVMe, but given the moment, a large hard drive can save time for a game-loving owner in the long run, not to mention the obvious opportunity to take library to a place where everything is bad with Internet access.
Total War: Three Kingdoms was chosen for the experiment. The end result of one launch is the arithmetic average of five cold launches (game launch, benchmark launch, platform reboot, game launch…). The test will be performed according to the following principles:
- SSD — 20 launches plus time for additional game downloads at an average speed of 55 MB / s (utilization 440 Mbps). It took 9 minutes and 19 seconds to load it on the SSD.
- HDD — just 20 starts.
If you imagine a bandwidth of 100 Mbps, the hard drive wins even more in the long run. In fairness, let’s say that a 5 GB update was released for the game in a year, and it will be necessary to download it before playing. Let’s estimate one and a half minutes from above, they do not have a significant impact on the overall picture. So if you own a library for many games, then writing them to a hard drive and playing from it is not such a bad idea as it might seem at first glance, especially if you don’t have a gigabit Internet access line at hand or if you have love to replay games every year.
It should be noted right away that physical capabilities are not enough to record 4K video live in the case of a 10-terabyte model, and 16 TB will be able to do this at a frequency of 25 fps. The depth of the archive is difficult to calculate, but it will definitely be its strong point. Although you can go the opposite way, recording video from multiple sources simultaneously on a single drive, while maintaining an acceptable archive depth.
Windows Server 2019 Backup Cold Drive
Let’s take the following test system: a system drive with 200 GB of information, as well as a second drive with 300 GB of information. In general, we have about 100,000 files of various sizes, from simple documents of a couple of kilobytes to videos of 4 GB. The formation of such a copy took:
- IronWolf 10TB — 37 minutes, 52 seconds;
- IronWolf 16TB — 36 minutes, 25 seconds.
- IronWolf 10TB — 17 minutes, 13 seconds;
- IronWolf 16TB — 16 minutes, 45 seconds.
Given the volume of both hard drives, they are perfect for this task. The archive can be deep enough, and at the same time very quickly restore important infrastructure and information.
We completely forgot about elementary and obvious tasks, such as transferring a file from the system drive to the hard drive being tested. For example, let’s take a 4K movie with a size of 85 GB.
Starting the copy process speeds up the Media Cache well, a very useful thing when you need to quickly copy a small file. Thanks to him, 1 GB of information can be written almost instantly, and as it fills up, the hard drive reaches its «cruising» write speed.
In the case of copying in the opposite direction, there are no accelerations.
As a result, we have the following indicators:
- IronWolf 10TB — 6 minutes 7 seconds to write to a drive, 6 minutes 12 seconds to copy to another drive;
- IronWolf 16TB — 5 minutes 34 seconds to write to a drive, 5 minutes 38 seconds to copy to another drive.
In the conditions of an open stand, each drive simultaneously distributed and downloaded 50 torrents within 6 hours.
In the conditions of a closed NAS case, additional airflow does not interfere with the test subjects.
In the weight category of hard drives, the test subjects proved to be excellent, they perform typical tasks without any problems, and are not afraid of serious server-level loads. Nowadays, when choosing a hard drive, we are interested in price, volume, reliability, and speed is already the lot of SSDs. For these factors, the tested models of the Seagate IronWolf series are a worthy solution. And what kind of content libraries or archives of information can be made on their basis … In general, a good start to a new decade in the world of hard drives!