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Seagate Firmware Performance Differences

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the yet-deeper-mysteries dept.

Data Storage 177

Derkjan de Haan writes "The Seagate 7200.10 disk was the first generally available desktop drive featuring perpendicular recording for increased data density. This made higher-capacity disks with excellent performance cheaper to produce. Their sequential throughput actually exceeded that of the performance king — the Western Digital Raptor, which runs at 10,000 RPM vs. the more common 7,200 RPM. But reports began to surface on the Net claiming that some 7200.10 disks had much lower performance than other, seemingly identical disks. Attention soon focused on the firmware, designated AAK, in the lower-performing disks. Units with other firmware, AAE or AAC, performed as expected. Careful benchmarks showed very mixed results. The claims found on the Net, however, have been confirmed: the AAK disk does have a much lower throughput rate than the AAE disk. While firmware can tune various aspects of performance it is highly unusual for it to affect sequential throughput. This number is pretty much a 'fact' of the disk, and should not be affected by different firmware."

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why do girls always abandon me? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390043)

:-(

No phone call. No explenation. No heart.

Re:why do girls always abandon me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390395)

<voice type="fatherly">since you even posted this to slashdot I have a hint for you:</voice>

<voice mode="whispering">s-l-a-s-h-d-o-t</voice>

Re:why do girls always abandon me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390971)

Because you're a smelly GNU hippy with a small penis.

Re:why do girls always abandon me? (3, Funny)

Lars T. (470328) | about 7 years ago | (#20391027)

Because you have a harddrive but no firmware.

Re:why do girls always abandon me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20392273)

perhaps most women are only attracted to good spellers? (explanation)

you could read the archives of xkcd [xkcd.com] and cry our little heart out,

or what you need is some ghetto booty

bug (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390051)

When the performance of a lower-end drive is better than that of a higher-end (or, god forbid, a SCSI drive!) this is a serious bug that of course needs to be fixed in the firmware update.

Re:bug (1)

Sillygates (967271) | about 7 years ago | (#20393471)

Firmware can't fix everything.

Reliability (5, Insightful)

PlusFiveInsightful (1148175) | about 7 years ago | (#20390067)

I'll take reliability over performance of a hard drive any day. Nothing sucks more than swapping out drives.

Re:Reliability (1)

Applekid (993327) | about 7 years ago | (#20390123)

Sure, but there are people out there who would have picked up these drives instead of the 10K rpm WD drives explicitly because of the better performance for less heat/energy usage.

It's the return of the old "specifications subject to change without notice". Haven't seen an abuse of that one for a while.

RAID1 (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390243)

Disks are cheap. I *always* run a RAID1 mirrored pair in my PCs, as pretty much all mobos these days have RAID1 capability built into the chipset's SATA controller anyway.

On my main machine at home, I always buy my disks in groups of three drives whenever I upgrade. Two drives stay in the machine as the mirrored pair, and once a month I pull one out and stash it in a safety deposit box at my bank, and put the third drive into the machine and re-sync the mirror. That way if my house burns down / tornado smashes it or whatever bad thing that might happen, I've got a drive with my machine's image on it, no older than one month, stashed away offsite in a secure place so I can recover most all my stuff to a new machine.

Re:RAID1 (0)

zeromorph (1009305) | about 7 years ago | (#20390509)

[...]I always buy my disks in groups of three drives whenever I upgrade.

not sure if I get you right but:

Same vendor, same product, roughly same manufacturing date? Great strategy.

Re:RAID1 (3, Insightful)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | about 7 years ago | (#20390711)

It works for me - we have at least a thousand disks in our datacentre in raid5 arrays with 10+ disks per array - all the same make, model and build date and haven't yet had any fail so close that we couldn't leisurely swap the duff one out and rebuild onto the replacement. Quite why people suddenly think that drives are going to fail catastrophically at the same time like this is beyond me when the real world experience says it just isn't so.

drive failure (3, Interesting)

leuk_he (194174) | about 7 years ago | (#20390861)

Quite why people suddenly think that drives are going to fail catastrophically at the same time like this is be

An experienced administrator would know there is one item in the data center everything is relying on no-one could ever think of it failing, and it will fail at the most catastrophic time you think of. It won't be all fo those 1000'thns drives failing at the same time because some plane mistook your server lights for the landing runway, It will be some cheap sprinkler, the security lock of the door, Or some manager that decides to shutdown a machine to protect it from a Denial of service attack.

If there is no such item a good BOFH will create such red button.

Re:drive failure (3, Funny)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | about 7 years ago | (#20391003)

That's why we have a hot standby datacentre with real time replication to it. Shame that one of our contractors reversed over the gas main and we evacuated leaving all the access cards to the hot standby in the evacuated building.....

Re:drive failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20392589)

Next time, store all the access cards inside the hot standby datacentre

Big Red Button (5, Funny)

Jeff Carr (684298) | about 7 years ago | (#20392817)

If there is no such item a good BOFH will create such red button.
One of the data centers I worked at had just such a red button. It was designed to immediately kill all power to the room. Behind a plastic case, clearly marked "Emergency Shutoff".

The security for the door was malfunctioning earlier this summer, and the alarm was going off. The security guard thought the button was a shutoff switch for the security system... Luckily we had redundant servers at another location... Of course half of those didn't work...

Luckily also, this was the smaller data center at that site, so it only housed a few hundred servers... including the servers that ran many of our ATMs, and our server inventory and trouble tracking software... which didn't fail over to their backups... of course.

In addition, we had no idea where the server housing our server inventory information was... It turns out it was housed on a server called Skywalker... which we couldn't find... It turned out to be a cluster of Anakin and Amidala...

Fracking geeks.

Re:RAID1 (1)

zeromorph (1009305) | about 7 years ago | (#20390991)

It hasn't happened to me either.

But OTOH I also never lost all my data in the flames of my burning home, nor did I have any data damaged by a virus, nor was any sensitive data stolen from me, nor ..., nor ..., nor ...

You see, a lot of this security things are a little paranoid but I still consider the argument for not buying exactly the same stuff for backup still valid. If there is a problem with the charge changes are high that it will affect both HDs.

Since security things tend to be a little paranoid, you have to balance how far you personally/as a company want to go. And hey, this guy also puts one of his HDs in a bank safe.

Re:RAID1 (1)

Gandalf_the_Beardy (894476) | about 7 years ago | (#20391055)

True but I'd still personally rather backup to a chunky tape and take that to stick in the safe at work instead of mucking about with drives like that. I just think that the reasoning that the drives are very likley to fail within a couple of days is erroneous, not that there is not very good reasoning to back stuff up. FWIW I run raid1 on my boxes at home, but I take a tape into wokr every week instead.

Re:RAID1 (1)

crabpeople (720852) | about 7 years ago | (#20391259)

Really? Mine always fail in batches. Like one month there will be 30 or 40 dead hard drives, whereas the previous month there was 2 or 3. When you look at the date, they are always 3 years and one or two months from date of manufacture. Funny how that happens but it happens reliably, year after year.

three out of five ain't bad (2, Interesting)

peterxyz (315132) | about 7 years ago | (#20391343)

yup, about a decade ago I worked somewhere where this was an issue - they had a RAID configuration of somekind (I'm a nerd, but not a hardware one) and they had bearing failures in sufficiently close succession that the third failure occurred before all of the swapping from the second failure hadn't been completed.

supposedly it was traced to a common fault in the bearings

Re:three out of five ain't bad (1)

dwater (72834) | about 7 years ago | (#20392201)

> ...the third failure occurred before all of the swapping from the second failure hadn't been completed.

Then it was all swapped in time then, right?

Re:RAID1 (4, Interesting)

Cef (28324) | about 7 years ago | (#20393047)

I've had disks fail almost all at the same time before.

It's really annoying when the following happens:

- Disk 1 dies in a RAID5 set
- Hot spare (Disk 4) comes online and starts rebuilding
- Disk 2 dies during the rebuild thrashing
- Rebuild never completes
- Put in 2 new disks
- Restore a backup
- Disk 3 fails during restoration, pulling in the hot swap (one of the new disks)
- A year later, the original hot spare (Disk 4) fails, leading to another rebuild

From my own experiences, the main culprit in these sorts of cases tend to be the bearings. Why they have a tendency to go at the same time, I have no idea. Haven't had it happen lately, but I know I'd rather avoid the problem.

Usually though, it's not the make/model/build date that is the issue, but the batch number (especially for the parts rather than the drive). Parts tend to get allocated in batches, so if you get a batch of say.... bearings, that aren't up to snuff, that batch of drives will probably fail earlier, while others (even ones manufactured on the same date) will be fine.

Re:RAID1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390591)

pretty much all mobos these days have RAID1 capability built into the chipset's SATA controller anyway

What you will find is that it usually is just a dual-channel controller with BIOS support for some RAID1 scheme, with a driver that does all the actual mirroring in software once the system has been booted.
This brings you almost nothing over a controller without this "RAID1" functionality. About the only advantage is that it is easier to get the system to boot properly no matter which one of the drives fails first.

Re:RAID1 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391909)

How on earth does anyone have reliable RAID use from the crappy on board controllers is beyond me. Call me a loser but I've seen far more RAID issues then HD failure issues when dealing with anything but well known (expensive and dedicated) HD controllers. Do all SATA chip sets use a compatible format or would you have to get the same exact one if your MB or something fails and what about power outages before a commit? If using Windows and your MB fails, are you going to be able to get it running on a different MB using that array?
Wouldn't it make more sense and be much easier to run an occasional rsync of tar.gz or equivalent to a second drive for a backup? Taking a drive out of an array and storing it in a bank vault sounds cool but does that really make sense? I mean RAID is great for uptime and availability but it should never be confused with a backup. What about a mouse slip or a virus or an OS glitch or an accidental overwrite of a file? Are you going to be first in line at the bank on the next business day to get that month old disk?

I've got a geek card too but using RAID on an end user PC at home does not seem to make sense to me at all.

Re:RAID1 (4, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | about 7 years ago | (#20393045)

as pretty much all mobos these days have RAID1 capability built into the chipset's SATA controller anyway.

And many of those are actually slower than a pure, software-only, RAID solution. Sometimes the "hardware RAID" does nothing but offload checksum calculations or other bits onto slower hardware resulting it in being a major performance hinderence rather than a performance boost. Worse yet, if your controller card dies, ALL of your data is now inaccessible. Worse yet again, there is not guarantee future hardware releases, even by the same manufacturer, will be compatible. Heck some of the really low end hardware solutions don't even provide mirrored reads, which should provide a 2x read-only performance boost.

Not all RAID is created equal. And for many, software RAID, especially for Linux users, provides a solution faster than many RAID hardware solutions, is future proof, and only costs a couple of precent in additional CPU load. Best of all, it's free and works well with LVM. In a day and age where multiple cores are common and few actually use more than one, this option doesn't have much of a downside until you're willing to look at *REAL* RAID hardware.

Re:Reliability (2, Insightful)

RingDev (879105) | about 7 years ago | (#20390255)

Nothing sucks more than swapping out drives.
Spoken like a man who's never been kicked in the nuts...

I'd rather hot swap a failed raid drive than bring down a server to increase memory or redesign a solution from scratch in order to achieve the same performance gains. Heck, for the cost of having a coder just look at the I/O intensive code I could have bought another hard drive.

-Rick

Re:Reliability (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 7 years ago | (#20390437)

Heck, for the cost of having a coder just look at the I/O intensive code I could have bought another hard drive.
In which country? In some countries, high import duties and a weak local currency mean that the price of a hard drive is worth a lot more hours of labor than it would be in, for example, the United States or the United Kingdom. And across how many machines does your app run?

Re:Reliability (1)

RingDev (879105) | about 7 years ago | (#20391049)

In which country? In some countries, high import duties and a weak local currency mean that the price of a hard drive is worth a lot more hours of labor than it would be in, for example, the United States or the United Kingdom. And across how many machines does your app run?
In the USA. Let's say I have an app that is so dependent on performance that the hit taken by running a slower hard drive is currently a show stopping issue. A new Seagate 7200.10 400GB hard drive costs right around $100 in the US, heck we'll call it $150 for OMGNeedItNow shipping or local retail price. Let's figure that there is believed to be a performance issue in the code, but that no one has worked on the project for 6 months to 1 year. Figure it takes about 2 hours for a developer to get the correct code out of the repository, track down the code that is believed to be responsible for the performance issue. Let's say the coder is a mid-career coder pulling 75k/year + benefits. Toss on taxes, insurance, 401k, utility, and all the other joyful expenses employers have to cough up and it probably costs the employer $120k/year to have that coder sitting there. Spread that $120k over 2080 hours and you get $57.70/hr.

In the 2 hours it took to have that coder look at the problem, you have spent $115, and you do not have a new design, test plan, assembly, or distributable yet. That little performance issue could take 40+ hours to actually get out the door, or close to $2300.

Compared to just replacing the hard drive for $150.

Hardware is cheap. Labor is not.

-Rick

Re:Reliability (1)

_merlin (160982) | about 7 years ago | (#20391203)

Swapping the disk incurs labour costs, too. You need to send someone to do the work and test the system to ensure it's still stable after the swap.

Re:Reliability (1)

Kent Recal (714863) | about 7 years ago | (#20391965)

Dude, he already did the math for you and you still don't get it?
Hardware is cheaper than labor, by orders of magnitude.

In fact, when your hardware-costs begin to escalate then most of the time it is because you were cheap (read: shortsighted)
on your labor in the past and your underqualified "write-you-many-lines-of-code-for-$50-an-hour" contractors
left you with an app that scales like a lame donkey.

Btw, swapping disks and ensuring stability is called "regular maintenance" and you should have
full-time staff or contracts for that. If the cost of swapping a few disks matters in your equation
then you have much bigger problems.

Re:Reliability (4, Insightful)

rcw-work (30090) | about 7 years ago | (#20391883)

Compared to just replacing the hard drive for $150. Hardware is cheap. Labor is not.

Your example makes sense, but what if you've already done that? Say your app is SQL-based and does some queries that are O(n^2) complex. You've already spent $20k on a bad-ass server with RAID10, a bunch of spindles, separate transaction log drives, and as much RAM as can fit. Now, a year later, there's more records in the system and performance sucks again. Where do you go from there? These disks don't go to 11. If you want to double the performance of that $20k box, you're likely going to spend not $40k but $200k.

Once you outgrow commodity parts, if you want a 2x speedup, you'll usually have to pay 10x for it. Or wait three years. The price/performance curve is deceptively shallow towards the bottom end.

Re:Reliability (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 7 years ago | (#20393139)

Your example makes sense, but what if you've already done that? Say your app is SQL-based and does some queries that are O(n^2) complex.

This is why we have things like database clusters and distributed queries. Sometimes scaling horizontally makes more sense and is cheaper than trying to scale vertically. Which probably explains why it is so popular. ;)

Re:Reliability (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 7 years ago | (#20393111)

In the USA. Let's say I have an app that is so dependent on performance that the hit taken by running a slower hard drive is currently a show stopping issue.

Then the person who spec'd the system is either an idiot or incompetent. By definition you have a system which is a single point of failure which forces your system to operate below accetable minimums. With this system you should have one or more drives on hot standby or additional active disks in your array to absorb the performance hit.

Given the recent accouncement that one in a thousand will lose a second drive within twentyfour hours of the first drive's failure, it sounds like this system requires at least two hot standby drives or one hot standby and one cold standby; depending on the uptime requirements. Either way, your example is cause to fire the admin, nothing more.

Re:Reliability (1)

FreakWent (627155) | about 7 years ago | (#20391117)

Lots of things are worse than swapping out drives; swapping out motherboards for starters, all the way up to cancer, torture or oppresive fascist rule.

Besides, don't you have those funky front-facing RAID hotswap disks? Havne't got some? GET SOME! Then the suckiest thing in your life will be much better, and the biggest hassle in your day will be spilling coffee.

Re:Reliability (1)

QuickFox (311231) | about 7 years ago | (#20391879)

Lots of things are worse than swapping out drives; swapping out motherboards for starters, all the way up to cancer, torture or oppresive fascist rule.
Nothing sucks more than people taking hyperbole literally.

I for one (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390089)

I, for one, welcome our new Chinese owning slow throughput firmware overlords!

Mirth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390251)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAoh wait that's not funny at all please shut the fuck up

Re:Mirth (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390319)

I, for one, welcome our new HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAoh wait that's not funny at all please shut the fuck up overlords.

Linux check (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 7 years ago | (#20390133)

Is there a tool to check what firmware my hard drive has in Linux? I've got one of these Seagates, and it's SATA, so that means hdparm can't talk to it.

Re:Linux check (2, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | about 7 years ago | (#20390183)

Sigh, never mind. Ubuntu's been updated since I put this computer together, so now hdparm /can/ talk to a SATA drive.

Wouldn't you know that I've got an AAK disk.

Well, at least you know... (2, Funny)

jd (1658) | about 7 years ago | (#20390237)

...why they named it AAK!

Re:Linux check (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390309)

hdparm -i /dev/sda
hdparm -i /dev/hda

etc.

Re:Linux check (1)

sl1thy (1069466) | about 7 years ago | (#20391229)

hdparm -I device, with device being the drive (was /dev/sda on my system), will do the trick for us linux users. Mine came back with AAC, looks like I'm in the clear.

AAE vs AAK: It's a tie (3, Insightful)

Bellum Aeternus (891584) | about 7 years ago | (#20390191)

So the whole article comes down to the fact the new Seagates are really good if you use them for what they're designed for, but are not as good at what they're not designed for. Surprise...

Looks like Seagate designed the new drives for servers (probably file servers) because they're really good a moving large chunks of data around, doing large reads, and large write, but not so good a a ton of little reads and writes. So, don't buy them for your desktop/workstation.

Re:AAE vs AAK: It's a tie (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390213)

The problem simply is that when you buy a seagate 7200.10 you don't know which drive you end up getting.. server or workstation

Re:AAE vs AAK: It's a tie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390235)

That's some awesome reading comprehension you've got.

Re:AAE vs AAK: It's a tie (0)

negated (981743) | about 7 years ago | (#20390265)

Actually you are totally wrong.
They were clearly designed for porn [cnn.com] !

-S

Re:AAE vs AAK: It's a tie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390807)

Looks like Seagate designed the new drives for servers (probably file servers) because they're really good a moving large chunks of data around, doing large reads, and large write, but not so good a a ton of little reads and writes.
If you actually looked at the "real world" benchmarks" [fluffles.net] instead of the synthetic ones, you'd notice that the new drives are actually better at the majority of those, including common tasts like starting windows XP, copying files, installing applications, swapping and scanning for viruses, all tasks that one should hope aren't significant for servers, but may actually take up large portions of the disk accesses of a desktop. Ideally, they'd take out the handbrake of the new AAK-drives so that the peak transmit rate is back to the old standard, but as is, it's apparently better for desktop usage than then old version, It's just more difficult to measure than sequential read or write speed. What I'm really missing in this article is a discussion of seek and - more important - access speeds.

Re:AAE vs AAK: It's a tie (1)

Devistater (593822) | about 7 years ago | (#20390903)

Actually copying files (and extracting with winrar) was the main one where it WASN'T better.
Go read the next page :)
http://www.fluffles.net/articles/seagate-AAK-firmw are/5 [fluffles.net]

Having a drive perform 30% slower in reading while doing a file copy, is pretty significant to me.

Artificial Performace limiter? (1)

turnipsatemybaby (648996) | about 7 years ago | (#20390241)

Looking at the graphs on the first page of the article, it seems like the AAK firmware has some kind of performance cap on it. When you get to ~80 on the horizonal scale, the curves between the two graphs appear to sync up again.

So does this mean they they've put some kind of speed governor on their hard drives, or am I totally misinterpreting the results?

Re:Artificial Performace limiter? (1)

KillerCow (213458) | about 7 years ago | (#20390543)

No, it's possible that that is the actual limit of the device.

Not really same drives (5, Insightful)

zdzichu (100333) | about 7 years ago | (#20390269)

From TFA page 6 [fluffles.net] :

A sad detail is that updating an AAK disk to other firmware is impossible, due to physical differences of the two disks.
(emph. mine)
Different disks have different performance. News at 11.

Re:Not really same drives (4, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | about 7 years ago | (#20390439)

Two drives sold under identical make and model identifiers should not be that different.

Re:Not really same drives (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 7 years ago | (#20390643)

According to whom? The drives are advertised based on capacity, not throughput. RPM, cache, sure, but I've never seen a manufacturer include anything other than the the interface speed in a drive's specs.

Re:Not really same drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390677)

lol. Then you haven't looked at the specs.

Re:Not really same drives (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 7 years ago | (#20390683)

Indeed- I had 4 75GB IBM 75GXP disks purchased at the same time (about a week apart)- two were actually smaller by some fraction (I don't recall, 10 or 100mbish) and had different # of sectors. The two bigger ones had the all too well know failure, the others are still operational.

Re:Not really same drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391329)

Could be the drive's controller keeping those sectors hidden from the OS because they're bad sectors.

Re:Not really same drives (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | about 7 years ago | (#20391757)

they were labeled as such (75.6 gb and 76.1 gb or somesuch) and these were (at the time) new drives.

Re:Not really same drives (1)

LarsG (31008) | about 7 years ago | (#20393007)

You had four Deathstars? They still alive?

Re:Not really same drives (1)

LarsG (31008) | about 7 years ago | (#20393051)

Gaah. Note to self: Remember to actually read comment you are replying to before clicking Submit. Never mind. :-)

Re:Not really same drives (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | about 7 years ago | (#20391761)

Nothing personal, but you might want to consider getting your hard drive specs elsewhere. I prefer going directly to the manufacturer's site. The 7200.10 specification sheet {in .PDF format} for the Barracuda line is here. [seagate.com]

Hey, gamers! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390909)

Strafe does not [reference.com] mean the same thing as sidestep. We at Wikipedia would appreciate [wikipedia.org] any insight you can offer as to the origins of your illiteracy.

Re:Not really same drives (4, Informative)

jhesse (138516) | about 7 years ago | (#20391935)

Tell that to D-Link.

They were selling a USB 802.11G dongle (Model DWG-122, IIRC), one model number, *THREE* different chipsets (each requiring different drivers, only one of which had drivers for other than Windows)

Nothing on the box other than a "A" "B" or "C" in tiny print in a corner.

Re:Not really same drives (1)

dwater (72834) | about 7 years ago | (#20392073)

> Nothing on the box other than a "A" "B" or "C" in tiny print in a corner.

Well, that's enough, isn't it?

If these drives had such a marking, then this article wouldn't be here.

iis kdawson's spell-check firmware broken? (2, Funny)

garcia (6573) | about 7 years ago | (#20390329)

This number iis pretty much a 'fact' of the disk, and should not be affected by different firmware.

Poor spell checking is pretty much a 'fact' of the browser you use when you submit articles to Slashdot, and should be affected by different editors.

Perhaps kdawson's firmware is broken? :)

Re:iis kdawson's spell-check firmware broken? (2, Funny)

ruiner13 (527499) | about 7 years ago | (#20390589)

Perhaps kdawson loves windows and IIS so much that he added it to his dictionary? ;)

Vista !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390351)

Is it possible that we can blame Windows Vista for this (DRM!!!!) ?

The Day the Earth Stood Still (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390359)

Whatever you do, don't stream audio from one of the -K drives across Vista!

I have 4* 3.AAE 320GB (1)

McNihil (612243) | about 7 years ago | (#20390393)

And they are SRIPE0 and I am definitely smokin with file stuff.

I am juggling 14 GByte pdf with a breeze (albeit acrobat reader doesn't seem to work with files larger than 4 GByte)

Re:I have 4* 3.AAE 320GB (1)

daeg (828071) | about 7 years ago | (#20390691)

Just curious: what the hell do you have as a 14GB PDF? I've never worked with one that large, I've always seen them split into smaller pieces and rejoined at press-time (assuiming you're working with press info). Not related to the article, just curious.

Re:I have 4* 3.AAE 320GB (1)

McNihil (612243) | about 7 years ago | (#20390789)

Yes true that... it was just a fun exercise to use pdftk to concatenate the entire thing and check out the speed and size and if things would still work :-D

But yes a 200+ pages book and VERY graphic intensive one (half vector and other compressed png due to the nature of the material) will cause the size to be large.

inkscape + home brewed stuff on Linux no less.

Re:I have 4* 3.AAE 320GB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391309)

I'm going to assume "SRIPE0" means striped aka raid 0:

Why in GODS NAME are you using that configuration? You are trying to cause a data loss and you deserve whatever happens.

If some other config is meant by that, discount these statements.

Re:I have 4* 3.AAE 320GB (1)

Barny (103770) | about 7 years ago | (#20393109)

By the sound of it, its for production work, which I would assume is being backed up via NAS or a file server very regularly.

Yes its a frightening thing seeing that much spinning rust with so many points of failure, but if planned for it can be damn fast for not a lot of cost or effort.

YOU fAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390447)

so there_ are people rules to follow

First with perpendicular recording? No. (1)

ruiner13 (527499) | about 7 years ago | (#20390559)

That is hogwash. According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] it has been on the market for 2 years now in various forms. Searching newegg [newegg.com] there are many drives from a few brands that have it already, and I know I've seen them on there for at least a year.

Re:First with perpendicular recording? No. (1)

Devistater (593822) | about 7 years ago | (#20390965)

I think the seagate 7200.10 DRIVE was the first non scsi drive with perpendicular, not this particular firmware on the drive. This is a revision of the 7200.10 firmware.
In other words, the /. summary is technically/semantically correct, in calling it the first DRIVE. But the AAK firmware wasn't the firmware used over a year ago when the 7200.10 drive was first released AFAIK.

BTW, 2007-2006 = 1 year, not 2 years. Even if you count month 9 minus month 4 (aug - apr) = 5 months, its still less than 1.5 years so you can't round to 2 years yet :)

Re:First with perpendicular recording? No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391217)

Correct. Perpendicular recording has been released in ENTERPRIZE CLASS previously. Infact, the 7200.10 was sold to ENTERPRIZE OEM before the retail market. Also looking at the AAK firmware version, it's a version number. K is higher than E, so it is a newer release. The performace difference is most likley made up in reliability. Take for granted the testing that was performed at Seagate before releasing a RETAIL drive firmware change!

And which of those models were being sold before (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | about 7 years ago | (#20391419)

The Seagate? Have you considered that "AAK" implies that there many have been as many as 11 previous revisions of this drive?

Why the mixed results? (2, Informative)

Froggie (1154) | about 7 years ago | (#20390587)

It's interesting to note that the general purpose benchmarks come out with AAK in the lead while the others, all very much sequential read focussed, don't. So the question is, what exactly are the operations that the AAK is doing faster in the mixed benchmarks? Seeking? Or maybe it's a bus bandwidth limit at the hard drive end?

Sadly, we can't tell, because the author has focussed on the sensationalism of poor performance rather than asking these questions. Seems to need a few more experiments setting up, or alternatively an answer from the horse's mouth.

Some candidate theories:
- microcontroller software bug (unlikely)
- hardware cost-down such as a slower, cheaper microcontroller or less RAM on the drive (quite likely)
- rebalancing the performance optimisation, changing the cacheing or readahead algorithms to suit typical loads (possible, but it seems odd that this would limit linear read performance)

Re:Why the mixed results? (2, Interesting)

Devistater (593822) | about 7 years ago | (#20391021)

Its not less RAM, all the 7200.10 perp drives are 16 meg cache, at least all the ones above 300 gigs are. And looks like some of the 250gig as well
http://www.seagate.com/docs/pdf/datasheet/disc/ds_ barracuda_7200_10.pdf [seagate.com]

Its only when you get down to the 80 and 120 gig sizes that the cache is reduced. And thats to save money on the production costs since the drive itself sells for less. If people want a cheaper, smaller capacity drive, they aren't likely to be willing to pay more for the 16 meg cache.

So "less RAM" can pretty much be eliminated. Your other theories could still be correct though. I personally would lean towards a bug, one that passed the Q&A because it didn't affect all performance characteristics of the drive.

It's true (5, Informative)

fifirebel (137361) | about 7 years ago | (#20390685)

I have been setting up a couple of 8-drive RAID-5 arrays with these drives for some customers, and I also found out that 3.AAE drives performed much better that 3.AAK. No idea why. Seagate was unresponsive to queries about flashing the firmware and I had to replace all the 3.AAK drives by 3.AAEs.

The manufacturing country had nothing to do with it. I had some chinese 3.AAE and 3.AAK as well as taiwanese (or was that thai?) 3.AAE and 3.AAK. 3.AAE would always perform better.

The kind of testing I performed was:

  • hdparm -t /dev/sdN (AAK: 50 MB/s vs AAE: 72 MB/s)
  • time dd if=/dev/sdN of=/dev/null bs=1M (AAK was 10-15% slower)
  • iozone over ext3 showed slighly worse results with AAK than with AAE, but it was probably within the sampling/error margin (< 5%).

Also, if you buy a retail kit (which I found cheaper than OEM at Fry's), there is no way to find out the firmware level on the box. You had to open the retail boxes to check the firmware revision on the drive itself.

One theory I have is that these drives can supposedly be configured for server or workstation workloads. It could be that AAK drives are configured for server workloads by default (unless overridden) while the AAE are configured for workstation workloads by default. I have no idea how to toggle this under Linux.

Re:It's true (0, Troll)

dknj (441802) | about 7 years ago | (#20391025)

I have no idea how to toggle this under Linux.

or if your theory is even correct, crackpot.

Re:It's true (1)

Devistater (593822) | about 7 years ago | (#20391099)

If its configured for differant loads, its probably locked. I doubt it can be configured for other loads, even in windows, or dos.
The most low level configuration for drives themselves I've ever heard of is to adjust the noise levels, some drives have configurable audio profiles, they can be quieter, but slower.

If you could configure firmware for differant loads, that would be really cool. But I'd imagine that hdd manufactures would be against that. If you could configure a normal desktop hdd for server configuration, it would draw business away from the larger margine SCSI segments. Which is why WD is the only one to have a 10k RPM non SCSI drive, they don't have a SCSI segment that they are afraid of cannibalizing profits from.

Easy solution (1)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | about 7 years ago | (#20390757)

The implication is that Seagate has crippled their 7200rpm drives so as not to cannibalize sales of the 10k RPM drives. Assuming this is true, it shouldn't remain so for very long. There are plenty of other purveyors of 7200rpm drives (without an interest in selling more 10K RPM SATA drives), and Seagate doesn't hold exclusive rights to perpendicular recording technology. Soon enough someone will make a 7200rpm drive that isn't crippled, and then I suspect we'll see the 7200.10 series magically return to its former sequential performance.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390981)

Only few people buy 10kRPM drives because of their sequential read/write performance, but for the faster access times (including rotational larency). This is even more evident with the 15kRPM drives, where the platters are significantly smaller than in 10kRPM or 7.2kRPM drives, which decreases the maximum transfer rate as well as the capacity. In the past the 15kRPM drives even used to have lower magnetic densities (again, reducing max throughput and capacity) so as to reduce head settle time, i.e. the time the head takes to stabilize over a given track and can actually be used to read or write.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20391337)

Im in ur hard drive stealing all ur rotationz.

You Just Won (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20390771)

absolutely no dollars.

Impeach Bush with a criminal indictment FP.

If Kim Jong iL did this, he would be accused of war-mongering. When Front Man For The Crime Syndicate Does It [whitehouse.org] , it's called a warning [foxnews.com] .

Blow it out your ass, F.O.X.

F.O.X. : F(ear) O(ppression and) X(enophobia)

Regardz,
Kilgore Trout

Speculating is fun (0)

Dan East (318230) | about 7 years ago | (#20390845)

Speculating is fun, so I will. Many physical devices that require exacting manufacturing processes are sold under different models of varying specs. The devices with the least manufacturing defects are the high-end, expensive models, while those with more defects are sold for less. The best example is CPUs, the difference between speeds being the amount of manufacturing defects. So perhaps with these drives they have to use different firmware depending on the quality of the platter, and for marketing they took a simpler route and sell them all under the same model with lowest-common-denominator specs.

Dan East

Very Similar problem with the Samsung HM250JI (1)

Biotech9 (704202) | about 7 years ago | (#20390869)

I had a Samsung 250 GB HM250JI 2.5" SATA on order, in Europe it's less than 150 Euro and that is a bargain for a 250 Gig laptop drive. The problem was that a little googling showed massive performance problems with some drives. Some had miserable speed benchmarks, others (in OS X) failed to mount or mounted sporadically. Others performed just fine.

Turned out Samsung had a couple of different firmware versions on shipping drives, and it is possible to burn new firmware to a CD and boot from it under OS X to flash the drive with updated firmware. But after reading about these and other problems with Samsung drives I cancelled the order and bought a WD instead. Pity Seagate don't have any affordable similar drives, I've only ever used seagate before and I think they're pretty fantastic.

STxxxxxxxAS vs. STxxxxxxxNS (1)

itr2401 (873985) | about 7 years ago | (#20391101)

Does anyone know which actual line of HDD's this firmware difference is being found in? Seagate offer 2 different types of drives - AS and NS specification for the same product, where the only real difference AFAIK is that the NS class is rated for 24/7 operation.

Re:STxxxxxxxAS vs. STxxxxxxxNS (1)

Nimey (114278) | about 7 years ago | (#20392285)

Mine was an AS-type and it has the AAK firmware.

Why is this news? (1)

tuxlove (316502) | about 7 years ago | (#20391393)

I've probably seen this a hundred times before, literally. Sometimes there are firmware bugs in drives. What an amazing mystery!

It's almost as if the author had never before imagined such a mundane thing. Next story...

Maybe I'm just lucky... (1)

FunkyRider (1128099) | about 7 years ago | (#20391637)

I've just tested my 7200.10 320GB 3.AAK drive using hdparm -t /dev/sda1, and it gives me 71.77MB/s read rate. Isn't this about the same as one of the 3.AAE drives tested above?

Should not be affected by different firmware... (0, Redundant)

omgamibig (977963) | about 7 years ago | (#20392155)

...except you screw it up badly enough.

FIRst (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20392445)

Seagates, and Linux HD optimization (3, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | about 7 years ago | (#20392465)

First, a comment on the Seagate 750G drives: If you run these, and you want to keep them running, make sure you have clean power. I've seen several of them die, usually after a power outage. Never seen one on a UPS die.

Also, if you're concerned about Linux block device performance, look at the various kernel tunables. On a single drive, such as those Seagates, I can get extra ~10MB/s. On RAIDs and LVM volumes, the differences can be much higher-- more than twice as fast, in some cases. There are a few parameters that make a difference, and many values you might want to try for each. I have a script iterate through the various permutations, running IOZone on each, so I can see what does best for read vs. write and large vs. small file performance. But I can't release it just yet (employer makes 100% of income from Open Source; employer hates Open Source). Anyway, somebody out there can do better than I, I'm sure :)

This discusses the tunables you'd want to check: http://www.3ware.com/KB/article.aspx?id=11050 [3ware.com]

Note that these do NOT apply only to 3Ware controllers. And the differences in performance can be massive.

Re:Seagates, and Linux HD optimization (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | about 7 years ago | (#20393371)

But I can't release it just yet (employer makes 100% of income from Open Source; employer hates Open Source).
Psst... Might want to keep that to yourself around these parts.

So of course I went spelunking who your employer might be... No luck, but I got a new sig.

5 year warranty vs 1? (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 7 years ago | (#20392699)

I was a Western Digital and Maxtor man for a long, long time. (I have a lot of harddrives: 4 terabytes, my lifetime harddrive purchases have been: 20M, 200M, 400M, 800M, 4G, 16G, 25G, 40G, 60G, 80G, 120G(x5), 250G, 300G, 400G, 500G(x2), 750G(x2))

I get sick of replacing drives, as they inevitably fail. I get even MORE sick of PAYING to do so.

Around the time Maxtor and Western Digital dropped their warranties from 2yrs to 1yr (or was it 3 to 2?), Seagate increased their warranty to FIVE years . In terms of guaranteed gigabytes per year, Seagate is clearly the best buy. The book is completely closed in my mind, with no need to reconsider. Guaranteed drives for 5 years. Meanwhile, with another brand, you may have to buy the same drive 3 times during that period. Screw that.

Perpendicular Recording Overview Video (4, Funny)

Jaxoreth (208176) | about 7 years ago | (#20393159)

For those who are unclear on what perpendicular recording is, Hitachi made a video [youtube.com] explaining how it works. It's a bit dry and technical, but I figure the Slashdot crowd is savvy enough to grok it.
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