Tag Archives: Advanced Format

Benchmark: WD Red NAS

My wife is in the market for large, cheap drives with decent performance to store sequencing data, so I ordered and tested a 2 TB Western Digital Red NAS (WD20EFRX—no link because wdc.com is broken at the moment). The Red series seems to be a halfway point between the WD Green and WD Black series: like the Green series, they have 4096-byte sectors and IntelliPower (i.e. variable rpm), but they are designed for 24×7 operation and seem to have far more consistent performance—although not quite on par with the Black series. Continue reading “Benchmark: WD Red NAS” »

4k drive update

Just to let you know what the current status is wrt. 4k drives:

It looks like the consensus in the industry (meaning everyone except Western Digital) is to announce dual sector sizes, i.e. 512-byte logical sectors on top of 4096-byte physical sectors.

Ivan Voras has taken the initiative to organize a 4k BoF at BSDCan, although judging from the (private) email exchange on the subject, it’s quite possible that a decision will be made before then. Currently, it looks like we’re moving towards having the low-level driver report a 512-byte sector size and 4096-byte stripe width (and, if necessary, an appropriate offset) to GEOM. This preserves backward compatibility, but announces to GEOM consumers that it is a good idea to do I/O in 4096-byte blocks and align data structures on 4096-byte boundaries. All that remains is then to make sure that those GEOM consumers we care about (particularly ZFS) take advantage of this information.

The situation for WD “Advanced Format” drives is a bit more complex, because they announce 512-byte logical sectors. The only solution I can see is to add a quirk system to the ada driver (and possibly to ata as well, if we still care about it) similar to the ones we have for SCSI and USB devices, and match the model number. I believe /WD\d+[A-Z]+RS/ should match all existing Advanced Format drives with no false positives.

Off by one

I made a small modification to phybs to verify the function of jumpers 7-8 on the WD Advanced Format drives (see here and here). It is supposed to cause the disk to internally shift every write by one sector, so that a write to sector 63 (where the first partition on a PC normally starts) actually goes to sector 64, which coincides with the beginning of a physical 4,096-byte sector. These numbers confirm this:

   count    size  offset    step        msec     tps    kBps
   32768    4096       0   16384       78631      34    1666
   32768    4096     512   16384       79880      33    1640
   32768    4096    1024   16384       73164      36    1791
   32768    4096    1536   16384       77727      34    1686
   32768    4096    2048   16384       76975      35    1702
   32768    4096    2560   16384       74970      36    1748
   32768    4096    3072   16384       79379      34    1651
   32768    4096    3584   16384       28094      96    4665

The firmware on the disk shifts everything forward by 512 bytes, so all these passes are unaligned except the last one, because 3,584 + 512 = 4,096.