WD has introduced a trio of new hard drives in its NAS-friendly Red family. The big daddy of the bunch is the Red 4TB, which stacks four one-terabyte platters inside its 3.5" body. Those platters spin at a rotational speed WD characterizes as IntelliPower—code for roughly 5,400 RPM.
The Red is meant for mass storage rather than performance-sensitive data. That said, it shouldn't be too much slower than WD's flagship Black 4TB, at least for the sequential transfers common in NAS environments. The 7,200-RPM Black has a much higher spindle speed, but its 800GB platters have a lower areal density than the terabyte media in the Red. Tellingly, the Red 4TB is rated for a sustained data rate of 150MB/s, barely slower than the 154MB/s of its Black counterpart.
Of course, the difference in random access times between the two drives will be substantial. You certainly don't want to be running your OS and applications off the Red.
Like the rest of the 3.5" Red family, the 4TB variant has a 6Gbps SATA interface and 64MB of cache. It's also loaded with NASware 2.0, special sauce that includes Time-Limited Error Recovery (TLER) support for desktop RAID configs and special hooks for dedicated NAS boxes.
The Red 4TB is slated to start selling today for $229, which is a lot less than the $310 asking price attached to the Black 4TB. A more appropriate foil is Seagate's $220 NAS HDD 4TB. We already have the Red 4TB in-house for testing, and we may have to pit it against the competition from Seagate to see which is the best mass-storage solution.
Although we figured WD would introduce a 4TB Red model eventually, we didn't expect the drive to come along with a couple of smaller sidekicks. WD is also extending the Red range downward with a pair of 2.5" models.
The 2.5" variants are two-platter designs, and they have the same ~5,400-RPM spindle speeds as their larger peers. The mini Reds boast NASware goodness and 6Gbps SATA interfaces, too, but they're only equipped with 16MB of cache. Impressively, the spec sheet suggests the 2.5" drives are nearly as quick as the full-sized Reds. The maximum transfer rate is listed as 144MB/s for both models.
WD expects the 2.5" Reds to be popular in servers and industrial applications. It also hopes NAS makers will adopt the form factor and build compatible devices targeting consumers. There's certainly the potential for some slick mini NAS boxes, and it will be interesting to see if 2.5" drives catch on in that space.
Red drives are covered by three-year warranties, and the 2.5" models are no exception. They're priced at a bit of a premium, though. The 1TB version costs $99, $19 more than its 3.5" counterpart, while the 750GB Red has a $79 MSRP.