With six 1TB platters, 128MB of cache, and a 7200 RPM motor, Seagate boasts that the Enterprise Class 3.5 HDD v4 6TB is the world’s fastest hard drive. The validity of their claim and the environmental ramifications lie within.
August 18, 2014 by Lawrence Lee
| Seagate Enterprise Class|
3.5 HDD V4 6TB
3.5" Hard Drive
The mechanical hard drive is the most antiquated component in modern computer systems as it still depends on moving parts. Despite the rigors of time and advances in alternative storage methods, it remains the most cost-effective solution to our growing storage needs. Throughout the 2000’s, capacity expanded almost like clockwork, typically doubling every couple of years, but the drive density improvement rate has recently slowed. 3TB drives debuted in 2010 and 6TB models were introduced only this year. Still, there is always excitement when capacity bumps happen, not just for the new drives themselves but for the eventual price reduction of smaller models.
Getting to the 6TB level presented some problems, as only five platters normally fit in a standard 3.5 inch drive and the 1TB platter is the largest common standard. Manufacturers have got around this limitation in different ways. Hitachi made waves with the Ultrastar He6, a drive filled with low resistance Helium which reduces air friction and allows for seven thinner platters. Western Digital was able to increase their platter size to 1.2TB for the Red/Green 6TB models while sticking with a five platter count. Meanwhile, Seagate, through some tweaks in internal design, managed to fit six conventional 1TB platters in their 6TB drives.
Seagate Enterprise Class 3.5 HDD v4 6TB Specifications
(from the product data sheet)
|Cache, Multisegmented||128 MB|
|Spindle Speed||7200 RPM|
|Interface Access Speed||6.0, 3.0, 1.5 Gb/s|
|Max. Sustained Transfer Rate OD||216 MB/s|
|Average Latency||4.16 ms|
|Idle Power, Average||6.9 W|
|Typical Operating Power, Random Read||11.27 W|
|Temperature, Operating||5 to 60 C|
|Shock, Operating, 2ms (Read/Write)||70/40 Gs|
|Shock, Nonoperating, 1ms and 2ms||250 Gs|
|Dimensions||26.1 x 101.85 x 147.0 mm|
|Mean Time Between Failures||1.4M hours|
|Reliability Rating @ Full 24×7 Operation||0.63% (AFR)|
|Power-On Time per Year||8760 hours (24×7)|
|Sector Size (per Logical Sector)||512 Bytes|
|Limited Warranty||5 years|
Our first 6TB sample is a doozy as a Seagate claims it’s the world’s fastest hard drive. The Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 is, as you may have guessed, an enterprise class drive, designed for high performance, reliability, and equipped with features that allow it to function better in RAID. Compared to previous models, the v4 has improved error correction and parity and RAID rebuild capability (which in some cases can rebuild data without rebuilding the entire array). Our sample is the most basic model (SATA 6 Gbps with 512 byte sectors) but variants are available with options for a dual port 12 Gb/s SAS interface, 4K sectors, and self-encryption and secure erase capabilities. Drives are offered in 2TB, 4TB, 5TB, and 6TB capacities.
Physically, the drive looks like any other except for the incredibly dense housing. Typically there is a recess underneath and sometimes some support ribs, but with six platters, there is no room for any of this We’ve never seen a drive with an almost completely flat/flush cast bottom. Our sample was manufactured in May according to the date code, and it weighs a hefty 780 grams.
Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting
most acoustics tests in our
own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL
readings than before, especially with sub-20 dBA@1m devices.
Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:
These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from the top
of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale
of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.
As of late-2011, we have been conducting performance testing. A combination of timed real-world tests is used to represent a workload of common activities for a boot drive including loading games, running disk-intensive applications, copying files, and installing programs. Synthetic tests are also run to better judge the performance across the entire span of the drive.
Summary of primary HDD testing tools:
Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:
Real World Performance Test Tools:
Real World Benchmark Details:
A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There
are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without
Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 20~23°C.
We start off with synthetic tests results. They don’t tell the whole story, but it’s a quick way of gauging relative performance between drives, and they are easily reproducible by our readers at home.
The drive performed well in HD Tune’s transfer rate benchmark, producing the best sequential transfer speeds we’ve seen from a mechanical hard drive. At 170 MB/s, it beat out the Seagate Barracuda 3TB and WD VelociRaptor 1TB by 10 MB/s, though it fell well short of the Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB, a midrange solid-state drive. Latency doesn’t appear to be an issue either as the access times were best in class for a 7200 RPM model (we believe the 0.4 ms result for the Barracuda 3TB is bugged/skewed).
Previous 7200 RPM drives didn’t show much variation when it came to random performance, but the new Seagate 6TB model outshone them. Write speeds especially, showed considerable improvement, but not quite enough to take down the VelociRaptor 1TB. SSDs excel at this type of workload; by comparison, the HyperX 3K is out of this world.
Real World Performance
Our real world performance testing begins with a Windows 7 image, loaded with our test suite, being cloned to a 50GB partition at the beginning of each drive. The suite is run start to finish three times with a defragmentation (except for SSDs and hybrid drives) and reboot between runs. Average times were collected for comparison.
Loading performance was noticeably superior than older 7200 RPM models. Call of Duty 5 and Far Cry 2 load times were only a few seconds away from being SSD-class. Boot time was above 30 seconds but a longer than average spin-up time is partially to blame, though despite this, it still managed to easily wipe the floor with most of the other hard drives compared.
In our application tests, it trailed both the WD Se 4TB and VelociRaptor 1TB despite an excellent finish in TrueCrypt.
The drive’s best results came in our file copy tests, where it finished well ahead of the VelociRaptor and just 3~4 seconds shy of the HyperX 3K. Unsurprisingly, this mirrors the 6TB’s dominance in the sequential read/write tests.
Our installation tests brought the 6TB model down to the middle of the pack. The margin between 2nd, 3rd, and 4th are minor but in this section, fractions of a second determine the winners and losers.
To get a handle on the overall performance of the drives, we’ve given each model a proportional score in each real world benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation), with each set equally weighted. We used the Seagate Enterprise Class 6TB as the reference point at 100 points.
Using this scoring system, the VelociRaptor 1TB managed to just barely stave off the new Seagate drive, retaining its crown as fastest hard drive. The 6TB model however was easily best in class for a 7200 RPM variant, beating out the nearest competitor, the WD Se 4TB (another enterprise class drive) by 9%. The rest of the hard drive field were between 20% and 30% slower.
With a six platters and a 7200 RPM motor, power consumption was much greater than the "green" competitors which draw about half as much energy. However, we were surprised that the 6TB model stayed under 10W, less power than smaller WD Se 4TB.
As one would expect, the drive is also noticeably louder than most hard drives, though it would be wrong to describe it as unpleasant. Sitting idle, the drive emits a soft whirl and gentle whoosh, generating 19~20 dBA@1m. Individual seeks are easier to pick out than average, as the tone is sharper, that is to say it has a clicky rather than thumpy beat. Seek activity adds just 1 dB to the overall SPL.
The vibration of the drive is a much bigger issue than its airborne acoustics. Its vibrational energy is the highest we’ve encountered from a hard drive in years. Drive noise and vibration have been steadily improving, but this 6TB model brings us back to an earlier time when sub-7200 RPM drives were scorned and hard drive suspension was a must for silent PC enthusiasts. Still, it’s tough to criticize Seagate for this considering the physics involved. You can’t jam 6 platters spinning at 7200 RPM in a standard 3.5 inch form factor and expect the same level of dampening as a 3~4 platter model.
Comparison Chart: Environmental Characteristics
1TB+ DESKTOP HARD DRIVES
(10 = no vibration)
WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EARS
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
WD Red 1TB WD10EFRX-68JCSN0
WD Caviar Green 1.5TB WD15EADS
4.5 W (2.8 W heads parked)
Samsung EcoGreen F4 2TB HD204UI
WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EVDS-63T3B0
WD Red 3TB WD30EFRX-68AX9N0
WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EADS
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
7K1000.C 1TB HDS721010CLA332
WD Caviar Green 3TB WD30EZRS
4.1 W (3.7 W heads parked)
WD Red 4TB WD40EFRX-68WT0N0
4.0 W (3.2 W heads parked)
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632
WD Caviar Blue 1TB WD10EALS-002BA0
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003
Seagate NAS HDD 4TB ST4000VN000-1H4168
4.8 W (4.1 W heads parked)
Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001-9YN166
(5.6 W after 30 secs)
(3.9 W after 50 secs)
WD Se 4TB WD4000F9YZ-09N20L0
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB HDS723020BLA642
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB ST32000651AS
WD VelociRaptor 1TB WD1000DHTZ-04N21V0
Seagate Enterprise Class 3.5 HDD V4 6TB ST6000NM0024-1HT17Z
Compared to other hard drives we’ve reviewed over the past few years, the 6TB Seagate Enterprise drive’s environment characteristics are poor. It easily vibrates the most, Makes the most noise (except for the VelociRaptor 1TB in seek), and uses more power than usual. However, these negative qualities are all justifiable when you consider the performance and capacity.
These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR’s own 11
dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s.
We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from
the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what
we heard during the review.
These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!
The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second
segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if
applicable), and seek with AAM disabled.
Desktop Hard Drive Comparatives:
The Seagate Enterprise Class 3.5 HDD V4 6TB is an exceptional performer, shaming all the 7200 RPM drives that preceded it. It also came a hair’s breadth away from toppling the 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor 1TB, while offering six times more storage space. Power consumption, while high in absolute terms, was actually surprisingly good compared to lower capacity 7200 RPM models. With six platters, we thought for sure it would easily exceed 10W but that wasn’t the case.
Unfortunately when you house this much horsepower and capacity in a standard form factor, the resulting physical characteristics are inferior. The drive doesn’t produce an annoying noise but it is definitely louder than most. If you’re used to the near silence of "green" models, this 6TB drive will be a bit of a shock. The vibration level is also so horrid it’s like a drive from an earlier era. It’s not ideal for home use but then again, that’s not really what it’s marketed for.
In an enterprise environment, performance and capacity are much more important and it’s got that in spades. Reliability is also a big factor but this of course is untestable; you can only rely on past experience and your level of trust in the manufacturer. For what it’s worth, n addition to the five year warranty, Seagate claims mean time before failures is 1.4 million hours (compared to 800,000 hours for the Western Digital Se 4TB), and the annualized failure rate is just 0.63% when running 24/7. Seagate also offers variants that include options like a 2 Gb/s SAS interface, 4K sectors, and self-encryption and secure erase features to further appeal to the enterprise sector.
Price is always an issue, and the largest capacity drives on the market always demand a premium… as do 7200 RPM motors, and enterprise standards. Combine all three and we have an intimidating price tag of about US$500. If you run a data center and want the the best and biggest storage available than you can’t go wrong with this drive. Everyone else thinking about picking up a 6TB drive or two will probably prefer the slower, but much cheaper desktop varieties like the WD Green and Red.
Note that Seagate does offer a 6TB desktop internal drive retail kit known as STBD6000100 and sold by Amazon currently for $365. Seagate Desktop HDD 6TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s 128MB Cache 3.5″ – Internal Drive Retail Kit (STBD6000100)
Many thanks to Seagate for the Enterprise Class 3.5 HDD V4 6TB hard drive sample.
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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
QNAP TurboNAS TS-469L 4-Bay NAS Server
Mediasonic ProBox 4-Bay 3.5" Hard Drive Enclosure
HP Proliant MicroServer Gen8
Seagate NAS HDD 4TB
Western Digital Red 4TB & Se 4TB Hard Drives
Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives
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