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Western Digital launches new 6 TB hard drive at just $299

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July 22, 2014

Western Digital said this morning that it's launching a new 6 TB hard drive that it will sell at just $299. To be sure, this is a 5-platter drive, with 1.2 TB per platter of density, intended for NAS utilization.

The new HD comes in both 5 TB and 6 TB versions. It spins in the 5,400 to 5,900 RPM range using Intellipower, has a 64 MB cache and uses a 6 Gbit/s SATA interface.

It comes with v3.0 of WD’s NAS software which means that the new 'Red drives' (as WD calls them) are capable of supporting up to eight-bay NAS systems with no negative impact to performance.

Western Digital Red drives range from 750 GB to 6 TB, are for up to 5-bay enclosures, and classed as consumer NAS products.

There is now an accompanying Red Pro line, with from 2 TB to 4 TB capacities, which is for business use in 8 to 16-bay enclosures.

The existing Red line is for entry-level to high-end datacentre NAS implementations.

Drobo owners, who can populate their enclosures with third-party drives, have now got an enticing upgrade option available once their current drives fill up.

We might expect Western Digital to update its four bay Sentinel Windows Storage Server line of desktop and 1U rackmount shelf products which are listed as using 4 TB currently.

Moving to 6 TB drives would give them a 50 percent capacity upgrade. We can expect this 1.2 TB/platter area density to start spreading further through WD’s product line in the next couple of quarters, both in 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch form factors.

WD says that its Green drives “will also be seeing capacity expansion in the near future with soon to be announced 5 TB and 6 TB additions for high capacity consumer storage.”

Western Digital sibling HGST has a 6 TB helium-filled drive. Currently, HGST and WD are forced to operate independently, due to the Chinese regulator MOFCOM’s ruling following Western Digital’s purchase of HGST two years ago.

Putting this density level to work in HGST’s seven platter helium drives would produce an 8.4 TB drive.

For its part, Toshiba has a 5 TB MG-04 and MC-04ACA drives spinning at 7,200 RPMs. Seagate has a 6 TB six-platter version used in a LaCie external storage product. It spins at 7,200 rpm and has a 1 TB/platter level density.

The WD Red drive has a 3-year warranty and the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $249.00 and $299.00 for the 6 TB product.

The Red Pro has a 5-year warranty and a 2 TB version will cost $159.00 with 3 TB costing $199.000 and 4 TB priced at $259.00. All Red products should be available now or in short order at some U.S. retailers and the WD store.

In other IT news

Almost a whole year after the hype first hit the blogosphere, Cisco has done its first installation of its NCS 6008 massive router, at Australian carrier Telstra. And this is important, since the NCS 6008 has the potential to revolutionize things.

Back in September 2013, Telstra was said to be one of the customers deploying the Cisco NCS, a statement which in retrospect could be described as optimistic.

Telstra last week blogged that its 1 Tbps-per-card-capable NCS 2008 has gone live on the Telstra Internet Direct network, which serves fast internet connections to enterprise, government and wholesale customers.

“Our new Cisco super router is currently managing traffic on the busy Melbourne to Sydney path and makes Telstra the first Telco in the world to enable live network traffic on the next generation of routing technology,” the carrier said.

With eight cards, the new system provides an aggregate 8 Tbps of throughput. And it is said that the NCS 6008 consumes 60 percent less power per gigabit of traffic than the core routers it replaces, the carrier says, and has a smaller footprint.

Its faster update and boot process, Telstra says, will also help reduce downtime. Next for the upgrade will be international gateway sites, followed by other national-scale routes.

In other IT news

In the last few years, IBM's storage revenues have dropped, with only Flash Systems showing some growth. In fact, it appears that Flash Systems is the only area where there is some serious action happening.

Within the Systems and Technology segment of IBM's second quarter results for this year, revenues from System Storage decreased 12 percent, while at the same time, flash storage grew more than 100 percent.

Overall, this is the eleventh quarter in a row in which the Systems and Technology business' revenues have declined.

So, removing the storage revenues from IBM's current results and plotting them by quarter and year we get a clearer idea of how each quarter is doing in a succession of years.

A few years ago, IBM went on an acquisition spree to improve its storage product range. That seems unlikely to be a course of action IBM will take at present. We would suggest that the biggest strategic threat to IBM in storage, servers, software and services is the public cloud.

If enterprise customers are not buying IBM hardware to run IBM middleware and using IBM Global Services to produce the systems that link this hardware and software to business processes, then IBM revenues, net income and EPS will all fall.

Could it be the case that the hybrid cloud is only a temporary stepping stone, in a timescale of decades, to public cloud computing dominance? Perhaps the only sure way to compete with the public cloud is to have your own cloud offering?

That's what Big Blue is currently doing with its SoftLayer initiative. Stifel Nicolaus' Aaron Rakers noted-- "IBM expects to continue rolling out its SoftLayer data centers in the third quarter and 4th quarter of this year.

IBM announced its intention to invest $1.2 billion to expand its cloud data centers, planning to open 15 new data centers worldwide in fact, adding to its existing 13 data centers acquired via SoftLayer and twelve from IBM.

In other IT news

Intel said this morning that is has tweaked its Xeon firmware and sold it off to Oracle, in an effort to streamline things a bit. The two companies announced late yesterday that they had partnered to work on a Xeon chip whose cores can be turned on or off and where the clock speed can be easily changed and tailored by Oracle's in-house software.

To be sure, Intel's new Xeon E7-8895 v2 SKU was carefully 'adjusted' by Intel to allow Oracle's code to choose how many of the chip's fifteen cores to use at any given time, and at what clock speed, said Intel spokesperson Pat Buddenbaum.

Although these three new features-– clock rate manipulation with Turbo Boost, selective power C-states, and the ability to dial-up and dial-down cores have been available in prior Intel chips, this marks the first time they've all been available in a single Xeon CPU, we're told.

This allows Oracle to run systems at full processing capacity when a heavy workload arrives, and spin down the CPUs in quiet periods, all of which should save some energy.

Additionally, the fewer cores used, the higher the clock frequency can go in Turboboost mode, which is useful for certain kinds of processor-intensive applications.

The 22nm-process E7-8895 v2 has fifteen cores running at a typical clock speed of 2.8 GHz, though it can use "Max Turbo" to scale up to 3.6 Ghz.

It has 37.5 MB of data cache. Its maximum thermal design power (TDP) is 155 Watts, which in technical terms is a very hot chip when compared to other similar designs.

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The CPUs must be able to reliably work over a range of several clock frequencies, grouped into grades called "bins". One bin represents a 100 MHz increment in clock frequency for the E7-8895 v2, Intel told us.

"Let's just say that this is a fifteen core part at the outset, running under mostly favorable conditions that allow for Turboboost. It can theoretically run at one bin or two bins to three bins above rated frequency," said Intel.

"Depending on all the many conditions that enable that, you can hit any one of those points. Three bins is the maximum at the 15-core mark, but as you go lower, say to a six-core mode, then the maximum frequency within that particular situation is 3.4 GHz. If for some reason only one core is being used, then in that particular scenario you can go up to 3.6 Ghz," said Intel.

The chip giant spent about a year working with Oracle to help the company tweak its software and schedulers to automatically scale core usage up and down, and make better use of its power management "C-state" technology that Intel made available through firmware tweaks, Intel said.

"It's more through the unlocking of features in the chip, but also through our manufacturing process there will be a more stringent thermal profile required such that the chip supports all of these different modes," Intel added.

This marks a continuation of one of Intel's major new strategies-- customizing its high-margin server chips for specific customers, like eBay or Twitter.

Another aspect of this is its announcement of sitting FPGAs directly on top of Xeons for off-CPU acceleration.

Previously, Intel's customizations have involved different power management methods and selecting some chips for particularly high sustained clock frequencies, but Buddenbaum believes this is the first time Intel has sold a chip with dynamic core-scaling targeted at servers.

Though Intel makes much of the customization itself, it hasn't done anything from a hardware perspective besides select for the best Xeons coming off its production line.

The magic is all in the firmware unlocking some chip features. The new chips will sit inside Oracle's just-announced Exadata Database Machines X4-8, which have been built for Oracle's "in-memory" database refresh.

This new server design is "specifically optimized for a new generation of workloads: database as a service (DBaaS) and database in-memory. With up to 12 terabytes of DRAM memory, the Exadata Database Machine X4-8 can consolidate hundreds of databases and can run massive databases entirely in-memory," Oracle claims.

The new server can feature 12 TB of memory per 42U rack, 672 TB of disk storage and up to 44 TB of PCIe-linked flash as well.

Source: Western Digital.

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