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Western Digital Shuffles WD Red Line

Western Digital made quite a stir when they started introducing drive-managed shingled magnetic recording (DMSMR) drives into lower-end product lines earlier this year. This technology allows for great density per platter, but are not intended for random write IO use cases because the write performance is much slower than a conventional magnetic recording drive. Many had an issue that Western Digital was introducing this technology to customers least likely to understand the performance impact, but perhaps be more budget constrained once a purchase was made.

Then Western Digital made further waves introducing DMSMR drives into it’s NAS-focused WD Red line of drives, again without communicating how customers could identify the switch. The performance impacts were immediately felt, as adding these drives to a NAS array caused RAID resilver times to stretch into a matter of days, and often not complete.

Western Digital is still shipping DMSMR drives in the WD Red lineup, but now is at least making a consistent distinction for customers. DMSMR drives will be marketed as standard WD Red lines, while higher-performing CMR drives will go under the WD Red Pro lineup. Given the brand loyalty that Western Digital has built with the Red line, it’s a curious decision. The company states that it sees the drives as providing acceptable performance and reliability for its intended market, but all performance numbers seem to point to the opposite. Many people looking to replace or expand a RAID array probably just want a drop-in replacement and assume that if a WD Red drive served them well in the past, it will do so again. Given the performance hit that DMSMR shows, it may push customers away from the brand entirely.

Read more at Serve The Home WD Red Plus Launched with CMR

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.