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Posted on 20-03-28, 19:50 (revision 3)
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Remember SMR (shingled) HDDs?
http://wp.xin.at/archives/2633

We thought those were a fad, and the industry would switch back to good ol' PMR while perfecting HAMR in no time (or maybe SSDs would finally beat spinning rust on $/GB, killing those for good), due to the following:

- Abysmal write speeds once you've written several GBs to the drive, rendering those unsuitable for anything but archival purposes.
- Drives would require special support from OS to deal with their particular layouts in order to minimize the write speeds impact.
- More complex firmware architectures, introducing more points of failure (hi Suckgate!)

Well, we're in 2020, and while spinning rust has been "going extinct" every single day since someone figured out how to sell mass storage devices built out of flash memory ICs, WD, Suckgate and Toshiba are still cranking them out because there is still money to be made. And most of that money is on -you guessed it!- SMR! Turns out that if you're willing to accept the write speed hits, you can get denser, cheaper HDDs. And that tech, formerly reserved for cold archival server-class drives, has permeated all the way down to Black Friday Amazon specials, aka consumer HDDs. But just like Advanced Format, drives now just sweep all the gory details under the rug, and pretend to be ordinary, no-frills devices - plug wires, write data, neglect backups.

Well, almost ordinary: the only hint you get from those that they're not normal drives is a bit on the ATA IDENTIFY structures claiming that those drives support TRIM. Wait, what?! "Butbutbut wasn't TRIM only for solid state cards!?" Not exactly. Due to physics being a bitch, on SMR drives write heads are wider than read heads, this is why write speeds can tank when drive is being filled, as your lone "write a bunch of sectors" operation has become a VERY EXPENSIVE "read a bunch of sectors, including some that are completely unrelated to the ones you're going to write, modify them on memory, then rewrite several tracks at a time". In other words: you've got a really crappy SSD with moving parts, and therefore in order to preserve performance, you must treat those as such - if you're using Windows 7+ or most modern Linux distros, you're set: enable TRIM (periodic is highly recommended over continuous), set your filesystem mount options to "noatime", and try to not do any heavy random write workloads on those drives (I can guess swap space and mailservers/databases are right out of the question).

Why am I speaking about SMR today? Because to my hands a brand spankin' new 1TB WD Blue laptop HDD has landed (long short story: $FAMILY_MEMBER went abroad a few months ago, and came back with this gift for me, but I was lazy and the drive remained sealed in its box all those months until this forced solitary confinement due to The Plague™). Cool, I'll finally be able to replace the failed Toshiba 1TB on my Steamlaptop™ (which only works mostly as a N64PJ641.x console nowadays). The box doesn't say what exact model is inside (as WD instead use separate model numbers for retail boxed drives that are completely unrelated to the actual physical drive inside the box), but given that the drive was bought in late '19, it should be one of those newfangled 7mm single-platter slims. And sure enough, after cracking open the box, I found a WD10SPZX-11Z10T0 assembled in Malaysia sometime in late November '18... with a white "NOT FOR RESALE" label (WTF WD!? White labels often imply OEM drives which have no warranty!). At least the warranty is good 'till 2021 (but according to WD this drive is now "out of region", so fuck you). While WD doesn't tell you anywhere in their horrendously redesigned art school dropout website, the HUGE 128MB cache should be a tell-tale sign of this being a SMR drive (non-SMR laptop drives feature a more paltry 8/16MB cache)

Plugging it to my IBM box for the initial torture test reveals another interesting fact: if you try to read drive as-is, it will report ludicrously high read speeds (verify rates up to 270MB/s!). But don't get fooled - that's just one of the SMR perks (more on that later, when we talk about data recovery on those drives), where an empty/security erased/TRIMmed drive actively LIES at you and doesn't actually hit the platters at all, instead it makes up zeroes out of thin air. Once you write actual data to the drive, read speeds fall down to more realistic ~100MB/s (not bad at all for a 5400RPM junk-class drive!), as the drive now knows that you've written stuff to them.

Data recovery shops know those drives as "Palmer" (internal WD codename), and they hate them almost as much as modern Suckgates (locked firmware, requires very expensive "factory unlocked PCBs" just to be able to PARTIALLY work around said locks, self-encrypting BS, complex double-stage translator architecture means that a corrupted service area could lead to a drive reading only zeroes instead of actual data or giving read errors. In other words: "engineered for doom").

Soooo.... if you want to avoid SMR, you don't have many options nowadays:
- Buy SSDs, or stick to low-capacity older-tech drives
- WD Blacks should be PMR, but don't rely on the datasheets alone! As for Toshiba, they still make those ancient 2.5" MQ01s (not MQ04!!!) and rebadged 3.5" Hitachis, which are absolutely SMR-free.
- Anything over 12TB (or in the case of 2.5", over 1TB/platter) is SMR for sure.

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Posted on 20-03-31, 01:43 (revision 1)
Not from my cellphone

Post: #660 of 721
Since: 10-30-18

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Yup, this drive does indeed support TRIM.

blkdiscard is a SCARY command. If you wanted a one-second wipe to destroy all evidence quickly erase a drive, there you have. Your data is still there, but given the hardware and firmware peculiarities on those new drives, good luck getting your data back if you mess it up. Hope your buddies at the NSA/CIA/FBI/KGB/FSB/CCP/Jeff Bezos' secretary office do have that supasekret vendor specific keys to defeat this protection.

Also: for SMR HDDs, a zero-filled drive does read slower than a just-TRIMmed device, despite both read scenarios returning all zeroes. Nice way to fool naive consumers with fake benchmarks ("280MB/s from spinning rust?! MAGIC!!!")

Will be deploying this thing to its intended laptop tomorrow, in the meanwhile I'll be performing more testing on this WD Blue NOT FOR RESALE shingled drive.

UPDATE: Drive now in active service, posting reply from it. I've yet to enlarge partitions (coming up from a 750GB Hitachi 5K750 which is now the backup)

...guys, don't let shingled drives fragment too much - just don't! The write performance hit when defragmenting is so severe that even for a very lightly fragmented drive, your defrag tool will easily stall for some time. For comparison, an ordinary non-SMR drive with 5% fragmentation will defrag in a couple minutes, at most. A SMR drive? Easily 5x that time, if not more.

Remember: SMR drives are to be treated like very shitty fake Chinese refurb SSDs. I've enabled fstrim.timer on systemd to manually TRIM once a week - will need to check how to make it run during late nights, as once again the drive will stall beautifully (hope WD hasn't reinvented MCAS!), and I don't want that crap happening whenever I'm actually sit in front of my laptop!

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Posted on 20-04-17, 11:45 (revision 3)
Post: #356 of 364
Since: 10-30-18

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https://www.tomshardware.com/news/sneaky-marketing-toshiba-seagate-wd-smr-drives-without-disclosure
Toshiba, Seagate and Western Digital sell SMR HDD's without any indication of the drives using SMR instead of CMR.

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Posted on 20-04-18, 12:47
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Post: #668 of 721
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My SMR WD is doing fine so far, but then I haven't bothered enlarging partitions or filling it up yet.

But yeah, hardware OEMs are a bunch of sleazy scumbags - nothing new here.

Buy SSDs, if you can!

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Posted on 20-04-25, 13:13
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Post: #674 of 721
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And now Western Digital is doing damage control:
https://blog.westerndigital.com/wd-red-nas-drives/

Well, fuck you too, WD.
They're even pulling this SMR crap with Black drives, you know, the performance lines!

Basically if your drive is not too large or not too small, you will get a SMR unit.
If you're in the market for a new laptop HDD, this makes my suggestion easier: AVOID SPINNING RUST... or anything made by former spinning rust OEMs.

Mind you, this is not the first time WD is caught pulling a Huawei: most of their recent external drives now hide most of their SMART attribute values (including Power On Hours!) via firmware trickery.

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Posted on 20-04-28, 08:03
Post: #131 of 134
Since: 11-24-18

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Speaking of hard drives; looks like soon you will need an NVMe drive to play latest AAA titles since SATA will be too slow in the newest consoles.

On the plus side, the only things you will really have loading times for anymore is starting the game and non-graphics assets, since all graphics will be put on a built-in SSD in the GPU card. Imagine 256 GB GPU persistent memory with DDR2 equivalent IO speed... :)

https://www.gamesradar.com/ssd-vs-hdd/

Only a decade left on the spinning rust and SATA ports, it seems!
Posted on 20-04-28, 10:40
Custom title here

Post: #868 of 876
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The disk will never die!

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Posted on 20-04-28, 14:10
Not from my cellphone

Post: #675 of 721
Since: 10-30-18

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Weren't Stadia and friends supposed to kill gaming PCs and consoles as we know them?

Nothing to install = no fancy SSDs to sell.

Ah yeah, the China Plague™ reminded everybody of the fact that streaming is, indeed, a terrible way to enjoy interactive applications when 75% of the planet is locked down inside their homes and therefore every server in the world is forced to ration bandwidth so they can cope with the increased load of people downloading THE WORLD at once.

As for SMR: it does have its uses (anything that is "write once, read many" fits the bill perfectly), it's not a universal replacement for all other magnetic recording technologies in the market, no matter how many pennies on the dollar it saves for the beancounters at Western Deceiver, Suckgate and Toshitba. So if you're right now on the market for that NAS expansion, carefully review both the market offers AND your particular use cases. If you're just a data hoarder, SMR is fine. But for high-performance RAID, constant VM thrashing, or simply changing the failed boot drive on $GRANNY's laptop, avoid SMR and go for CMR (if looking for massive storage), or ditch the disk and make the jump to an all-solid lifestyle (if you don't need that much storage)

Thankfully I'm not one of those data hoarders anymore (it complicates your backup strategies when you have limited access to storage media, for starters). As for my WD SMR laptop drive: so far I haven't hit the SMR woes during daily usage, but then I don't heavy VM thrashing, or recompile the Linux kernel several times a day.

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Posted on 20-04-29, 05:55
Custom title here

Post: #869 of 876
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It actually occurs to me that shingled recording drives should benefit a lot from developments intended to help flash drives, as they have a simidar weakness(read small chunks, write big chunks).
...
Do shingled drives support trim?

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Posted on 20-04-29, 07:16
Post: #358 of 364
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Posted by CaptainJistuce
It actually occurs to me that shingled recording drives should benefit a lot from developments intended to help flash drives, as they have a simidar weakness(read small chunks, write big chunks).
...
Do shingled drives support trim?
Yes.

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Posted on 20-04-29, 17:12 (revision 1)
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Post: #676 of 721
Since: 10-30-18

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Posted by CaptainJistuce
It actually occurs to me that shingled recording drives should benefit a lot from developments intended to help flash drives, as they have a simidar weakness(read small chunks, write big chunks).
...
Do shingled drives support trim?

Quoting myself:
Posted by tomman
Well, almost ordinary: the only hint you get from those that they're not normal drives is a bit on the ATA IDENTIFY structures claiming that those drives support TRIM. Wait, what?! "Butbutbut wasn't TRIM only for solid state cards!?" Not exactly. Due to physics being a bitch, on SMR drives write heads are wider than read heads, this is why write speeds can tank when drive is being filled, as your lone "write a bunch of sectors" operation has become a VERY EXPENSIVE "read a bunch of sectors, including some that are completely unrelated to the ones you're going to write, modify them on memory, then rewrite several tracks at a time". In other words: you've got a really crappy SSD with moving parts, and therefore in order to preserve performance, you must treat those as such - if you're using Windows 7+ or most modern Linux distros, you're set: enable TRIM (periodic is highly recommended over continuous), set your filesystem mount options to "noatime", and try to not do any heavy random write workloads on those drives (I can guess swap space and mailservers/databases are right out of the question).


And from the actual drive itself:
tomman@himawari:~$ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sda

/dev/sda:

ATA device, with non-removable media
Model Number: WDC WD10SPZX-11Z10T0
Serial Number: WD-WXA1AAXXXXXX
Firmware Revision: 01.01A01
Transport: Serial, SATA 1.0a, SATA II Extensions, SATA Rev 2.5, SATA Rev 2.6, SATA Rev 3.0
Standards:
Used: unknown (minor revision code 0x006d)
Supported: 10 9 8 7 6 5
Likely used: 10
Configuration:
Logical max current
cylinders 16383 0
heads 16 0
sectors/track 63 0
--
LBA user addressable sectors: 268435455
LBA48 user addressable sectors: 1953525168
Logical Sector size: 512 bytes
Physical Sector size: 4096 bytes
Logical Sector-0 offset: 0 bytes
device size with M = 1024*1024: 953869 MBytes
device size with M = 1000*1000: 1000204 MBytes (1000 GB)
cache/buffer size = unknown
Form Factor: 2.5 inch
Nominal Media Rotation Rate: 5400
Capabilities:
LBA, IORDY(can be disabled)
Queue depth: 32
Standby timer values: spec'd by Standard, with device specific minimum
R/W multiple sector transfer: Max = 16 Current = 16
Advanced power management level: 254
DMA: mdma0 mdma1 mdma2 udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 udma5 *udma6
Cycle time: min=120ns recommended=120ns
PIO: pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4
Cycle time: no flow control=120ns IORDY flow control=120ns
Commands/features:
Enabled Supported:
* SMART feature set
Security Mode feature set
* Power Management feature set
* Write cache
* Look-ahead
* WRITE_BUFFER command
* READ_BUFFER command
* NOP cmd
* DOWNLOAD_MICROCODE
* Advanced Power Management feature set
Power-Up In Standby feature set
* SET_FEATURES required to spinup after power up
* 48-bit Address feature set
* Mandatory FLUSH_CACHE
* FLUSH_CACHE_EXT
* SMART error logging
* SMART self-test
* General Purpose Logging feature set
* 64-bit World wide name
* IDLE_IMMEDIATE with UNLOAD
* {READ,WRITE}_DMA_EXT_GPL commands
* Segmented DOWNLOAD_MICROCODE
* Gen1 signaling speed (1.5Gb/s)
* Gen2 signaling speed (3.0Gb/s)
* Gen3 signaling speed (6.0Gb/s)
* Native Command Queueing (NCQ)
* Host-initiated interface power management
* Phy event counters
* Idle-Unload when NCQ is active
* NCQ priority information
* READ_LOG_DMA_EXT equivalent to READ_LOG_EXT
* DMA Setup Auto-Activate optimization
* Device-initiated interface power management
* Software settings preservation
* SMART Command Transport (SCT) feature set
* SCT Write Same (AC2)
* SCT Features Control (AC4)
* SCT Data Tables (AC5)
unknown 206[12] (vendor specific)
unknown 206[13] (vendor specific)
unknown 206[14] (vendor specific)
* reserved 69[3]
* DOWNLOAD MICROCODE DMA command
* WRITE BUFFER DMA command
* READ BUFFER DMA command
* Data Set Management TRIM supported (limit 10 blocks)
* Deterministic read data after TRIM
Security:
Master password revision code = 65534
supported
not enabled
not locked
frozen
not expired: security count
supported: enhanced erase
184min for SECURITY ERASE UNIT. 184min for ENHANCED SECURITY ERASE UNIT.
Logical Unit WWN Device Identifier: 50014eexxxxxxxxx
NAA : 5
IEEE OUI : 0014ee
Unique ID : xxxxxxxxx
Checksum: correct


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Posted on 20-04-29, 22:49
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I feel dumb now.

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Posted on 20-04-30, 03:40
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Western Digital has just now released this new blog post on how SMR works: https://blog.westerndigital.com/dmsmr-device-managed-shingled-magnetic-recording/

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Posted on 20-04-30, 12:37 (revision 7)
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Post: #677 of 721
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More damage control.

But hey, they didn't forgot to bring the buzzword bingo!
Using machine learning and pattern recognition in our system, the drive detects types of data so that we can coalesce similar data types together to maximize performance.


They also said how good SMR is for data integrity at the user-area level...
Data integrity — Because DMSMR drives put data down sequentially, track ECC (accumulation of parity information on a per-track basis) can be placed at the end of each data track. It enables the drive to correct up to 8K bytes of data per track during read, with near on-the-fly performance. This exceptions-handling capability is especially beneficial in event of shock, fan vibration, grown defects or other less-than-ideal operating environments. This development of data protection power during read comes naturally in a SMR architecture.

...while failing to address the more vulnerable, highly complex firmware architecture that will nuke your data as soon as the LBA translation tables get corrupted, which seems to be a popular issue with some of those WD drives. (For reference: this could happen too to older WD drives, but most of the times it was an easy fix, doable at home even, with free or cheap tools! While the only equivalent for those SMR drives involves the purchase of thousands in American money of Soviet-made software with heavy DRM and -possibly- more $$$ in a new PCB for your drive since HDD OEMs doesn't want people tampering inside their drives since the NSA had their fun with firmware-level spyware, and Suckgate got into the data recovery biz).

Oh, that article does mention some WD models that are NOT listed on WD's blog (mainly external drives)

At least they're being honest (for once!) with the main disadvantage of SMR:
Data movement requires idle time — One of the most discussed about topics in DMSMR drives, is data movement. This is, by LBA Indirection nature, the other side of the same coin. To be able to move the data freely requires the drive to have idle time to perform these tasks in the background. Without the ability to preemptively maintain disk space, the drive, under specific conditions, may take longer to complete a command as its resources dwindle.

...hence reminding you that knowing your workloads is of vital importance when picking your next HDD.

I'm not against SMR at all (once again, they have their place in our data hoarder lives). I'm against scumbag companies pretending that everybody of us are dumb (just like dictators and presidents!), while they keep lowering the quality of their products without us realizing all and any possible savings.

UPDATE: And now the Toshiba beancounters (which are used to deceiving customers, just ask their nuclear guys) are feeling the pressure, as the company is now disclosing which of their HDD product lines are using SMR:
https://toshiba.semicon-storage.com/ap-en/company/news/news-topics/2020/04/storage-20200428-1.html

So far Suckgate has yet to make their move (aside of teling Ars that "our NAS drives aren't shingled, no sir!"), and considering how terrible are their product lines (particularly how nasty their mobile drives have become) this isn't surprising at all.

UPDATE 2: The Toshiba P300/DT02 series is actually a rebadged Hitachi... kinda, sorta? Well... I thought the WD/Toshiba HDD divestment agreement ended with the DT01 series (which IS still in production - damn, those are probably the LAST GOOD HDD drives still made!), but if you look at the pics, you can see that Toshiba is still evolving that former Hitachi design (which also implies that the WD/HGST merger stuff let them with full IP rights over those designs, instead of just allowing Toshiba to build rebadged drives under license, a-la Excelstor). However, those drives don't seem to be fully Hitachi under the hood:

- For starters, HGST didn't used that chassis for their native air-based 6TB drives.
- Look closer at the DT02 PCB: that thing looks more like a native Toshiba PCB (barcode label designs are clearly unique to OEMs), and it's less shiny (again, a trait of native Toshiba PCBs)
- Firmware revision KQ000A, which is clearly a Toshiba version string (Hitachi ones look like "MXO1A1BB", that is, 8 characters... a trait inherited from the IBM generations)
- These drives are SMR, of course. To date, no Hitachi/HGST drive is known to be using SMR (and that includes anything released under the WD brands)

...so, what the hell, Toshiba?! Time to look up some reviews! Of course, being SMR it means you won't be slapping those Half-tachis inside your NAS or DVR anytime soon!

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Posted on 20-05-30, 16:37
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Post: #717 of 721
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Some nerds figured out that SMR drives are indeed "unfit for NAS usage" and you should avoid any SMR drive if you plan to deploy them on your NAS - particularly if said specific SMR specimens says "Western Digital Red" and "NASware" on the label. They're just too slow for extended writes of big chunks of data, and most NASes out there just can't wait so they will assume the drive died and mark your RAID as failed. Oh, and your RAID rebuild times go straight to the moon and back.

...then they got the lawyers involved, 'murica style:
https://hardware.slashdot.org/story/20/05/29/2340240/western-digital-gets-sued-for-sneaking-smr-disks-into-its-nas-channel

Too bad the most likely outcome of this lawsuit -should WD lose- is a $5 coupon good for a discount in your next HDD purchase from WD. Oh, and a bunch of slimy lawyers getting stinkin' rich :/

For desktop usage, SMR is fine - my WD is doing fine so far and I haven't changed my usual desktop usage patterns so I haven't experienced long stalls, and I let my machine TRIM the drive weekly around midnight.

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Posted on 20-05-31, 12:35 (revision 1)
Post: #362 of 364
Since: 10-30-18

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And apparently Western Digital is the only one to put SMR drives in a NAS oriented product line.

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