[clug] Anyone using Seagate SMR dives [6GB & 8GB, 3.5" 'Archive']??

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Thu Nov 12 05:04:38 UTC 2015

> On 12 Nov 2015, at 2:52 PM, Bob Edwards <bob at cs.anu.edu.au> wrote:
> I am not sure the review says "Can’t use in RAID arrays”. 

BTW, while Seagate say the Power On duty cycle is 100% (always on, 8760hrs/year), they have load/unload cycles of only 300 [power-on cycles].

The “gotcha” is they’re only rated for 180TB of write (IIRC) per year…
You don’t want to be using them for R/W in an active filesystem.
OK for Read-only copy of your data with occasional updates.

Subtle why they’re ’Not for RAID’: there’s two reasons.

1. They’re “SMR” - Shingled Magnetic Writes [or Regions].

They get the 1.33TB/disk by writing very wide tracks, then on the next revolution, stepping the heads much less than the track-width (half its width) and deliberately overwriting (half) the already written track.
Works well when reading or doing sequential writes & appending.

You can’t do a seek and _update_ like on a ‘standard’ drive. You’ve got to read, then rewrite, the entire ‘region’. Or append to the end of a region.
[No idea of how big the regions are, or how to set their size.]

The drives ‘self manage’ and present a normal “update in-place” interface, but that’s a lie.

2. One review I read said the drives cache around 20GB of data (seems like a Log-structured write) and then at their leisure, read & rewrite any updated regions.
My guess is they deliberately make very small SMR regions for that 20GB, so it’s effectively “update-in-place”.
Alternatively, it is Log-structured data, it can always append the new value of any updated block and flip a ‘dirty’ bit in the DRAM block-map.

So the ‘managed’ interface gives you a pretend ‘update in-place’ that normal O/S’s can use - at the expense of both inconsistent and unpredictable performance and potentially an Early Drive Death. [Not that the vendor would mind you prematurely wearing out your drive. You may have a different opinion.]

The Read performance, seeking to unmodified data, will be consistent and ‘fast’.
The sequential write performance, especially appending to the end of the last written region, will be consistent and fast, but not as fast as read,.
[Review confirms 2MB sequential and random read/write were close to normal ‘Enterprise’ drive performance]

The random write performance due to the interaction of the 20GB buffer and SMR region-rewriting, will be _woeful_ because when the drive fills that Log / Buffer, it will stop writing until it’s cleared the backlog… 

The review I read had the peak performance of random 4Kb writes as good, but then it’d go to 0Kb/sec for extended periods.
IIRC, throughput was ~9.5MB/sec for random 4K writes. Can’t recall MB/sec for sequential writes.


As soon as you put these SMR drives with big buffers in a RAID system that wants to constantly update parity-blocks as well as Data blocks, it’ll run like treacle. (RAID-5 does 2 reads and 2 writes per block update if not ‘performance-optimised’ which can be more prone to losing data, RAID-6 does 3 & 3 read/writes.)

The storage review people did a two-drive RAID-1 (mirrored) rebuild with Enterprise Drives vs SMR’s
 - ~20 hrs for Hitachi Helium 6TB drives to remirror
 - 57 hrs for the Seagate SMR’s.

Rebuilding even a 5- or 7-drive RAID-5 array of SMR’s, even if taken off-line, will be multiples of that single-drive time as _every_ drive has to be scanned from start to finish. Good news is that if you’re off-line, the spare drive may be written sequentially, but this test showed a 1:1 resync of a broken mirror behaved as if it was all random read/writes. Worst case for SMR.

From the review:
> The HGST He8 HDDs completed its rebuild in 19 hours and 46 minutes.
>  The Seagate Archive HDDs completed their rebuild in 57 hours and 13 minutes.
>  Needless to say in a larger RAID group or with background activity taking place, that rebuild time will only get longer. 
> At this time Seagate recommends  single drive deployments, be it consumer or enterprise.
>  For hyper-scale deployments that are SMR aware, specially designed software can be used to replicate data across multiple drives in a fashion that won't have the RAID rebuild penalty in a drive failure scenario.

Steve Jenkin, IT Systems and Design 
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

mailto:sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

More information about the linux mailing list