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HP SATA drives vs classic SATA drives

Dear experts,

I need to buy a new server for my SOHO customer.
He decided to buy HP ML310eG8 with 2 x non hot plug 1TB 3,5" SATA LFF HDD.
I need to buy aditional disks for storage, but 1x "HP 3TB 6G SATA 7.2k 3.5in NHP MDL HDD" costs $750. Calssic 3TB SATA, for example "Western Digital Red 3000GB 64MB cache " is only $150

What is the difference?
They have a different firmware?


Regards,
Jarda
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Jaroslav Latal
Asked:
Jaroslav Latal
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3 Solutions
 
MrC63Commented:
Brand isn't particularly important, however there is a distinct difference between server-class (Enterprise) hard drives and desktop-grade hard drives.  Intel has written an excellent article that describes these differences.  You can find it here:

http://download.intel.com/support/motherboards/server/sb/enterprise_class_versus_desktop_class_hard_drives_.pdf

There is no question that HP drives will be more money mostly because they are branded with the HP logo.  However, Seagate, Hitachi, and (I believe) Western Digital all manufacture enterprise-class SATA drives.

I generally use the Seagate Constellation ES.2 series and have had excellent success with this series.
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Jaroslav LatalMSPAuthor Commented:
Hello MrC63,

Thans for your answer. I will certainly read that document.

I was on a HP gen. 8 training and they said there is some "small iLO" in each particular hard drive. I think it was only SAS technology, but I am not sure. Any experience with gen. 8 SATA?


Regards,
Jarda
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pgm554Commented:
Depending upon RAID levels(RAID 1)those drives could be OK,but if your going to do RAID 5 or 6,the WD RE 4  ,Seagate ES  or Hitachi Ultrastar are what you want.

Some RAID controllers simply won't work with a non branded drive,so beware.

I have had PERC controllers that will not even "see" a non enterprise drive.

Since HP tweaks their own controllers ,things like smart ,sector sparing and rebuilds might not work as they normally would with unbranded.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
The RED drives are unacceptable. Period.  WHEN, not if, those disks have to go into deep recovery, they will lock up and can take longer to return than the HP controller is programed to wait.  So the HP controller will think the drive failed and take it offline.

Now some controllers are designed to work with this longer timing and consumer disks. like some 3ware controllers.  But the HP SMARTArray is designed to work with HDDs that have appropriate error recovery limits (sometimes called TLER).
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DavidPresidentCommented:
A better solution would be to use a non-RAID controller and let the O/S do software RAID1.  This will work with consumer disks. It will also do read load balancing.   The HP controller's write cache will make the HP controller slightly faster in writes, but reads will pretty much be at the same speed.

So with the Red drives, you'll pretty much get 2X read performance of a single HDD, and write performance will be no worse than if you had a single non-rAID disk.  Plus you'll put several hundred bucks in your pocket .. which you can spend on more RAM.

That will probably be a much faster config because more RAM typically means less I/O depending on what you are doing.
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pgm554Commented:
RED drives are just WD Greens with TLER turned on and geared towards small NAS and RAID configs.

They have a variable spin speed as opposed to the RE 4 which are 7200's.

They are a marketing ploy from WD to rebrand the green,but are better geared for near line storage.

They are desktop drives with enterprise features turned on.

They do not go into deep recovery.

But considering that 2tb re's are about $150 these days,a RAID 6 would coast about $600.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/6157/western-digital-red-review-are-nasoptimized-hdds-worth-the-premium
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andyalderCommented:
No proper RAID controller with that model, just B120i SATA RAID which I believe is the chipset fakeraid controller but running HP's stack.
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pgm554Commented:
And HP wants to sell them a $700 buck disk?

Meg needs new hubcaps for her Bentley I suppose.
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andyalderCommented:
A little more on these "dynamic" Smart Array controllers at http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/262763-hp-dynamic-smart-array-controllers-any-experience, B120i - "This uses the host processors cycles to run".
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pgm554Commented:
That's pretty much been SOP on any RAID  controller without a co processor.

I see it's got no cache either which makes it one of those "car 4 sale cheap,needs tires ,engine ,brakes" marketing gotchas'.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
This is why fakeraid is crap. The host-based (native O/S) raid HAS a processor.  It uses threaded code, 'free' CPU cycles, your RAM as cache and buffers, and has intelligence to do load balancing and DMA so data doesn't even have to go across the bus until absolutely necessary.

 This is why so many high-end appliances are basically LINUX servers with software RAID.
(And why you need to do software raid with a $20 JBOD controller and not a fakeraid controller)
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Jaroslav LatalMSPAuthor Commented:
I'm still little confused..

The server has only 2 free positions, so RAID1 is prefered option. I like HW RAID rather than Windows (server 2008), because of Proliant G8 iLO reporting.

If non-HP SATA is good enough, I will definitely buy 24/7 drives, no green or red.

The most important question is:
Does B120i work with non-HP drives same as with HP drives? I mean contollers features "Fault Prevention"
http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/quickspecs/14343_na/14343_na.HTML 
The following features offer detection of possible failures before they occur, allowing preventive action to be taken:
•S.M.A.R.T.: Self-Monitoring and Reporting Technology first developed at HP detects possible hard disk failure before it occurs.
•Drive Parameter Tracking monitors drive operational parameters, predicting failure and notifying the administrator.
•Dynamic Sector Repairing continually performs background surface scans on the hard disk drives during inactive periods and automatically remaps bad sectors, ensuring data integrity.
•Smart Array Cache Tracking monitors integrity of controller cache, allowing pre-failure preventative maintenance.


I'm aware this controller is low-cost, the server is intended for 5 SBS users.


Moc dekuji za pomoc, bohužel mám jen 4x 500 points k rozdelení.



Kind regards,
Jarda
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DavidPresidentCommented:
the HP controller will "work" with ANY drive.  It is simply that non-HP enterprise class drives won't work as well - but really close.

Non-HP consumer drives pretty much guarantee data loss. But if you never have any bad blocks, they will work just fine.

But you really do NOT have what a reasonable person would call hardware RAID.
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Jaroslav LatalMSPAuthor Commented:
dlethe,
Can you please tell me what this means? "Non-HP consumer drives pretty much guarantee data loss. But if you never have any bad blocks, they will work just fine."
Please be simple for me :)

I hope points were distributed fairly.


Thanks to all,
Jarda
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Because the programmable settings that result in data loss have to do with both recoverable and unrecoverable error recovery timing & algorithms.  

The non-HP consumer drives are not correct for use with the HP controllers.  But if there are NO errors, then these settings will not come into play, because they can't.
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Jaroslav LatalMSPAuthor Commented:
So you do not recomend to use B120i RAID with non-HP drives.

Jarda
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DavidPresidentCommented:
You can use 3rd-party true enterprise class drives, and the error recovery algorithms and ECC will be OK, the down side will be minor performance hit.   The WD RED drive is NOT appropriate, but WD RE4s are OK.  This is still going to save you a lot of money.

But any and all consumer class drives are unacceptable.
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Jaroslav LatalMSPAuthor Commented:
Now I know what you mean by "consumer drives". I would never use them in a server, I was wrong when asking. I mean WD RE4!
I am going to start a new topic, you need more points for your efforts.

Jarda
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pgm554Commented:
Reds are not consumer grade,they are dumbed down RE's.

They are slower than the (5400 rpm vs 7200rpm) RE's.

Seagate had a similar drive (NL35) with their Nearline Storage Strategy

http://www.crn.com/news/storage/168601820/seagate-intros-new-sata-drives-for-near-line-apps.htm

Would I use them in RAID 1?

Depends.

Would I use them in a NAS,RAID 5?

Depends.

Seagate dropped the LP series because they said the savings of energy was minimal when compared to regular 7200's.

WD is just trying to figure out a way to justify it;s 5400 rpms disks.
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Jaroslav LatalMSPAuthor Commented:
Interesting, I did not know .. Thanks!

Regards,
Jarda
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DavidPresidentCommented:
No they are not just a dumbed down RE4.  THe RE4s have 10X better error recovery (exactly, since RE4 is < 1 x 10^15 vs < 1 x 10^14)  than the Red drives.  This is EVERYTHING.  In fact, if you do the math then the RED drives statistically guarantee data loss if you do nothing more than read the disk drive 4 times from beginning to end.

The RED drives are better than consumer class, but the are NOT a substitute for a RE4 in terms of reliability and data integrity.
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pgm554Commented:
Never said they were,but in marketing,what's old is now new.

What's new ,is now old.

WD is all over the map on this one.

But you would figure that there being about a 10 buck price difference...

Raptor is a great drive with a SATA interface,but doesn't qualify in their own NAS because it runs too hot.

There are SAS 7200 RPM drives too that have a better ECC that are used for nearline.

Let's face it ,as the bit rates grow more dense on these things,everything has a higher chance of corruption.

Who would think that 4tb would go for  under 2 bills these days.
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MrC63Commented:
I have dozens (hundreds??) of Seagate Constellation ES.2 drives in servers at various client locations.  There is no mystery with these drives.
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pgm554Commented:
I got money that sez Seagate is gonna bring out a product to match the red price point.
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MrC63Commented:
With server applications, I don't really care if the drive costs a few extra dollars.  I don't want support calls coming in at 2 AM about servers that fail, and our clients don't want the disruption it costs them.  In a RAID 5 or 10 array, it adds about $200 to the overall cost compared to cheap drives.  But it means I get a full night's sleep.  :)
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andyalderCommented:
Problem is that HP don't release a list of supported drives or even a spec of what's needed for these "dynamic" fakeraid controllers. Even I can't get a spec out of them, just get directed to the quickspecs which is pretty useless.
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MrC63Commented:
We've used lots of Constellations in HP servers (and other brands of servers).  HP wants to sell their own drives -- even though they don't even make drives, they simply re-brand them.
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pgm554Commented:
Part of the reason I don't use HP anymore.
Tech support and documentation are not what they used to be.

On the very high end stuff I can see HP doing their own thing,but this nickel and dime just makes me go ????????????????

Was at a reseller conference a few years ago and saw their micro server product?

Looked like an easy branch satellite server.
I couldn't get specs to save my life from them.
Even one of the M$ MVP'S at their booth told me what a clusterfork the marketing can be on these products.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
No HP does NOT just rebrand other disks.  They make firmware modifications in areas of retry counts; prefetch; tunable cache settings; power handling (green stuff); SMART settings; error thresholds.

Settings make a difference.
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MrC63Commented:
We're getting into semantics here and that only causes confusion when trying to answer a question for the person who needs help.

There are only 3 or 4 major drive manufacturers in the world.  HP is not one of them.  

Would you agree with that statement?
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DavidPresidentCommented:

Open in new window

No, because only HP is the manufacturer of a disk with HP firmware on it.    Firmware matters.  Your analogy only holds true if all HDDs are the same.
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andyalderCommented:
>There are only 3 or 4 major [disk] drive manufacturers in the world.  HP is not one of them.  

That is true. Putting your own firmware on it doesn't make you a manufacturer any more than writing your name on someone else's book makes it your book.
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MrC63Commented:
HP writes firmware -- they don't manufacture hard drives.

That's like saying Microsoft builds Ford, simply because Microsoft Sync is installed in a Ford.

Sheesh....
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Jaroslav LatalMSPAuthor Commented:
MrC63, I appreciate your knowledge, but it is not semantic. The questtion was "What is the difference?" and "They have a different firmware? "
You are now takling exactly about it.

Dlethe answered correctly.


Regards,
Jarda
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MrC63Commented:
Jarda,

It is semantics simply because neither you nor I know who actually writes the firmware.

HP likely develops the specifications that they want their drives to perform to.  And they may ask that these specs be referenced as a certain version of firmware according to HP standards.  

That doesn't mean the actual disk manufacturer isn't using the exact software /firmware in their own drives, labeled with their own firmware version.

It also doesn't refute the fact that HP does not manufacture disk drives.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
So then, Andy, MrC63.  Get two Seagate HDDs same firmware, and identical computers. Load windows on one HDD, Solaris on two HDDs.

By your logic the computers are the same, because they have the same manufacturer.

Software and firmware are also manufactured.  They matter.   1s and 0s are every bit as much a differentiator as the electronic components they run on.
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MrC63Commented:
Yes, they are the same computers.  They have the same firmware -- and let's be clear, firmware is different from software (that's why it's called firmware).

Dlethe, I respectfully offer to you that I once managed about 10 different HP servers for one of our clients all within the same server farm.  There were 5 drives in each of these servers that were 146 GB SCSI II drives labelled "HP".  They were identical in every way, shape, form and performance as a similar Seagate SCSI II drive.  But each company labelled it with their own brand and their own firmware version.

So who wrote the firmware, HP or Seagate?
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DavidPresidentCommented:
10 whole servers?  I've got clients that have hundreds of thousands of servers and among other things, I tune HDD firmware.

I also have a developers agreement with HP, LSI, Seagate, and other companies as I write RAID and controller firmware and diagnostics, and have often contributed by finding firmware bugs.

Who wrote the firmware depends on model numbers, but it is a fair generalization to say it is a combined effort.
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MrC63Commented:
I'll ignore the sarcasm.  I referenced a client specifically with HP servers.

At least we finally agree that firmware is a joint effort involving the buyer and the manufacturer. However that doesn't make the person who writes the firmware the manufacturer, which is the only point I've tried to make.  

We are now arguing between us, and ignoring the original question.  That has never been my intention.

I stated very early on that the Constellation ES.2 series would provide the performance and reliability he needs, at about 1/6th of the price of an actual HP branded drive.  Do you agree or disagree with this?
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pgm554Commented:
The marketing machines of these companies tries like heck to distinguish themselves from one another to do the same thing.

Proprietary and IP are just some of the reasons to be able to charge more.

I see where dlethe is coming from.

I mean how can you justify rebranding a generic controller and charging a premium.
That's where marketing get involved.

I worked for DEC as an FE back in the 80's and there were general rules as to whether or not you told a customer they could use an OEM drive in one of our systems,

Among them is if there is a DEC equivalent ,sell the DEC.
I remember selling a DEC rebranded Seagate 20mb ST506 MFM disk to a company for $3000.

HP has an atrocious record when it comes to this.

Had an HP tape drive QIC DC 600A cassette I believe .

Could not get it to work.

Turns out HP had firmware on the drive that looked for a header only found on their branded tapes (2x the cost).

I applaud the need for innovation,but when it is just for proprietary reasons...
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DavidPresidentCommented:
Look, you people are not storage test engineers who have had to spend man months working on firmware bugs that lead to data loss.   I can't get into specifics, but just read the release notes for firmware updates (assuming you can get the unfiltered ones).   You have no idea how much money and effort is spent on tuning firmware, let alone making changes to deal with specifics of hardware.

A dozen people can easily work several calendar months qualifying certain fixes that only manifest itself on I/Os of certain block sizes when the read buffer is full, queue depth is 2, mode page 8 byte 3 bit 1 is true, and you have an ECC error.   The fix may only be applicable to a certain controller but then again, it can also be SEV1 meaning product doesn't ship until it is fixed.

Changing EVPD pages so a controller or VMS doesn't reject a drive isn't the same thing.  The market has matured and interoperability costs millions of dollars for a specific combination.
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MrC63Commented:
@dlethe, please don't further muddy the waters.  I asked a simple question.  In programming languages, it only required a Boolean response (Yes or No).  If you had answered the question, I would consider your response.  But you haven't answered the question that I asked which was intended to assist this subscriber

@PGM, I wholly agree that the marketing machines play a huge role here.  I try to address the real world issues, including both programming and hardware, on a daily basis.  I've run into this situation hundreds of times and I know we've put solutions into place that have proven to be reliable despite what the specific brand claims.  

@Jarda, at the end of the day, and regardless of whose product you use, the objective is to make it work at the most cost effective price.  I have absolutely no doubt that the drives I've recommended will work properly and reliably in your server configuration.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
MrC63 - There is no way to give a boolean answer because you still do not recognize that firmware matters.  I can not tell you if an ES.2 will be good enough until you elaborate more.

What firmware revision, exactly, is running on the ES.2 in question? Send me the 512 byte output of the EC IDENTIFY page; SMART pages; SCT and log pages to start.

Log page E0 is pretty important as it deals with error recovery control. Also don't forget the read and write command timers, and all the device features pages.  Most of these are programmable, and they differ depending on the ES.2 firmware an how the disks were sourced.    Did you know that the factory settings for same make/model of Seagate varies from distributor to distributor?  There is no guarantee that they will even be the same for two disks shipped at same date from same distributor.

But HP makes sure this isn't a problem.    Since I do not know what the settings are for your ES.2 then I simply cannot tell you if they will work right.
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MrC63Commented:
dlethe, I'm growing weary of this conversation.  You're demonstrating all the bad things about I/T support that people have come to loathe.  All you're accomplishing is to generate fear and uncertainty within the people who rely upon our knowledge and experience.  I prefer to instill confidence in the people who look to us for advice, so I will not continue this debate with you.  

I remain confident that the previously mentioned drives which I've used in other servers (both HP as well as other brands) that I recommended to Jarda for use in his server, are well suited for his needs and are a fraction of the price of HP-branded drives.  That was the essence of his original question, and that is my answer.  The rest is simply noise.
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andyalderCommented:
There was a thread a few weeks go where someone was getting POST messages about SMART data showing a drive to be failing but the ADU and ACU showed no error; it's quite possible that that was down to using generic drives instead of ones with HP firmware on. Again it may not apply to "dynamic" fakeraid controllers although they ought to behave just like normal Smart Array Controllers if they run HP's code.
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DavidPresidentCommented:
McC63.  Believe what you want, but that does not take away from the fact that I've got twenty years designing drives an controllers, firmware, and diagnostic software.  I have NDA developer agreements with the vendors you use.

You merely use the code that I (or my peers) write.
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