KYThrill

Final Word on the Samsung HD204UI

Recommended Posts

Well, I guess there are two parts to this analysis...

 

The part where I'm a little disappointed in the drives performance and the other part where I eat crow...  :(

 

Anyway, I got my Samsung in today and have been playing with it most of the night (for way, way too long).

 

I think we have enough info to put its suitability for unRAID to bed.  Here is what I did.  On my benchmark, I tested the HD204UI with an aligned partition (2048) and with an unaligned partition (63) for a 4k drive.

 

I ran HDTune and Crystal Disk Mark each time.

 

The HDTune results are almost identical whether aligned or unaligned.  Either way it was 103.3 MB/sec average transfer.

 

However, CrystalDiskMark brought out the difference.  Sequential read/write was almost the same aligned vs unaligned.

 

However, the 512k and 4k random tests brought out the difference.  The write speeds were roughly half when misaligned.  This was similar to what was observed with the EARS drives.

 

And to compare the two (EARS vs HD204UI), I would have to say that I think the EARS drives come out on top.  Compared to my benchmark on the EARS, the HD204UI had a sequential transfer rate about 10MB/s faster.  However, the HD204UI is much slower at the random data.  Even when aligned, the 204 was about 20 MB/s slower on 512k writes, and about 10 MB/s slower on reads.  The 4k transfer on the EARS drive is about 5% faster vs the HD204UI.  Overall, I would say the EARS is a slightly faster drive.  For the same money, I would rather have the EARS (strictly from an aligned perspective).

 

So for unRAID, where sector 63 will be forced, you may be able to use the drive, but  it depends...

 

As a parity drive, no way.

For small files, scratch drive, etc, probably not.

To store large DVD iso's, you could probably get away with it.

 

It is still something of a mystery to me how preclears could be so fast on the HD204UI unaligned and very slow on an unaligned EARS.  One would think both should be equally as slow.  But this doesn't appear to be the case.

 

And I haven't had a chance to play with the Samsung jumpers yet.  I doubt they have a jumper like the WD's did, but who knows.  I will try it out tomorrow on an unaligned drive to see what happens.

Samsung_2048.jpg.10c1afe68472419a1f413c2ee6af25e1.jpg

HDTune_Benchmark_SAMSUNG_HD204UI_2048.png.47701b0813dd7e1acd290000172ef42a.png

Crystal_2048.jpg.cac4e5aed652245a09ad5d8ea758b0cb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

interesting thread...thanks for your testing. I hope this leads us all somewhere, and that it will be a non-issue at some point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is still something of a mystery to me how preclears could be so fast on the HD204UI unaligned and very slow on an unaligned EARS.  One would think both should be equally as slow.

 

There are several possible explanations for this.

 

The simplest is that the HD204UI is using buffers in write-back mode, or a less aggressive write-through mode.  Or the buffers are just tuned differently and preclear hits a sweetspot on the HD204UI (think of the old concept of interleave when doing low-level formatting... different sweetspot for different drives and controllers).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sooo... This is bad :(. Guess I shouldn't have bought 8 of them.  They are just for data drives but it seems like I'm going to have a lot of problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

madpoet, the real bad part about your drive purchase isn't the make or model of them, but the fact that you purchased them all at or around the same time. That's generally considered a big no-no, something that shouldn't be done. If there happens to be a bad batch, then the odds of two drives or even all your drives failing at the same time are significantly higher. They will also age at approximately the same rate given the same usage patterns and need to be replaced around the same time too.

 

Like KYThrill says, if you're using it to store DVDs or BluRays or large files, you could probably get away with it.

 

It's clear that it would be beneficial to the community if unRAID implemented alignment handling (able to use sector 63 or 64 partition start positions) sooner rather than later.

 

I commend KYThrill for taking the initiative and putting the drives through various benchmarks and test scenarios. The results will benefit the community. Lets hope there's some jumper or even firmware setting that can be enabled on the drives to alleviate the performance issues.

 

It's a bit of a shame there's so many issues with the various drives. In a consumer market, it really should be as simple as selecting the brand you feel most comfortable with and not having to worry about different sorts of issues. If I had to pickup a new drive today, I'm not certain which I would go with.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But they were so cheap ;). I get what you mean, I will certainly pre clear them all and hope that flushes out any immediate problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was bold and tried every possible jumper configuration, both vertical and horizonal.  One and two jumpers installed.  The drive would only even power up in one of those configurations, and I couldn't immediately tell a difference.  I thought maybe it locked in SATA150, but according to Crystal Disk, it was still SATA300.  So I don't know what that jumper was doing.  Transfer speeds were still 1/2 when aligned to Sector 63.

 

Which looking at Samsung's history, they usually fix this type of thing through firmware.  For several of their past models, it is a firmware change that is required to force SATA150 (the claim it should auto sense with default firmware, but doesn't always).  I logged a complaint with Samsung but haven't heard anything back yet.  I just stated that the drive was not fully compatible with XP, because aligned with Sector 63, as XP's default format, drive write speeds are 1/2.  I then complained that it wasn't printed on the drive label like it is with the WD advance format drives.

 

Maybe if more people contact their support department, it might speed up getting a firmware patch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, I have four Samsung HD203WI 2TB drives which I've been happy with.  But pretty soon I'm going to need to add a drive or two.  I was planning on getting another one or two HD203WI drives, but they're getting harder to come by.  If I understand correctly, it will be almost impossible to get 512-byte sector drives after January 1st.  On top of that, I guess there's some sort of 2TB drive limit that we're running into too.  So, I'm a little nervous moving forward.

 

What really concerns me is what happens if one my 2TB HD203WI drives fail in a year.  Will I run into a problem trying to replace it with an Advanced Format drive?  Forgive my ignorance, but its my understanding that the parity drive *has* to just as large all of the data drives, and a replacement data drive *has* to be just as large as the drive it is replacing.  So, given the 2TB limit (not to mention the lack of 3TB drives), that basically means any replacement parity/data drive has to be exactly the same size as my current 2TB HD203WI drives, right?

 

So, do the advanced format drives create any problems?  Will a HD204UI drive look the same size as a HD203WI drive?  Will a 2TB Western Digital EARS drive look the same size?  What if the 2TB EARS drive has the jumper set (which apparently just throws away one of the sectors, I think)?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You won't have any trouble replacing a dead drive after January 1st, however, you may have to buy a different brand.  In my opinion, the WD Green EARS drives are the best option at the moment, just remember that jumper.  Install the jumper as soon as you remove the drive from the packaging, then you won't have to think about it again.  All 2 TB drives will appear to be the same size to unRAID (barring any HPA issues, but that's a separate matter that only affects people with older Gigabyte motherboards).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have three 1GB drives in my system ... a WD EADS, a WD EARS (with jumper installed) and a Samsung HD103.  They all report exactly the same size : 976,762,552

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my opinion, the WD Green EARS drives are the best option at the moment, just remember that jumper. 

 

They aren't perfect, there are reports of excessive read head parking issues under certain linux kernels (inc the one unraid uses..) which a friend mentioned to me a couple of weeks ago :

 

http://wdc.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/wdc.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=5357&p_created=1266947046&p_sid=Os7DQL2k&p_accessibility=0&p_redirect=&p_srch=1&p_lva=&p_sp=cF9zcmNoPTEmcF9zb3J0X2J5PSZwX2dyaWRzb3J0PSZwX3Jvd19jbnQ9NTEsNTEmcF9wcm9kcz0yMjcsMjk0JnBfY2F0cz0xMzAmcF9wdj0yLjI5NCZwX2N2PTEuMTMwJnBfcGFnZT0x&p_li=&p_topview=1

 

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2085685

 

From my own unraid box :

 

Model Number:      WDC WD20EARS-00S8B1                   

Firmware Revision:  80.00A80

 

9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032  094  094  000    Old_age  Always      -      4421

193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032  196  196  000    Old_age  Always      -      14963

 

 

Only the WD disks in my box count the load cycle count (or at least give a specific smart attribute for it). Another different model WD to highlight the difference :

 

 

Model Number:      WDC WD5000AAKS-00TMA0                 

Firmware Revision:  12.01C01

9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032  073  073  000    Old_age  Always      -      19991

193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032  200  200  000    Old_age  Always      -      85

 

No idea if this is actually a problem and likely to cause premature failure of the drives. It doesn't bother me much and there may be a fix / workaround I'm not aware of.

 

But in the interests of being fully informed when choosing a 2TB disk it might be enough to push you towards another model / brand for now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's difficult to say, but ...

It seems the Hitachi model is the current favorite.

If you can get past the forced firmware update the Seagate LPs (5900 RPMs) seem to be decent.

 

My original WD EADS are doing very well in my unRAID array, none of the LCC issues at all, but there's a chance the new EADS come with advanced format now, so I can't outright recommend them either.

 

  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032  086  086  000    Old_age  Always      -      10383

193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032  200  200  000    Old_age  Always      -      1095

 

  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032  086  086  000    Old_age  Always      -      10284

193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032  200  200  000    Old_age  Always      -      800

 

  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032  086  086  000    Old_age  Always      -      10368

193 Load_Cycle_Count        0x0032  200  200  000    Old_age  Always      -      865

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI - Linux on 4kB-sector disks:

 

ReiserFS is the worst of the Linix-based FS in regard to write performance on misaligned sectors:

 

http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-4kb-sector-disks/

 

 

at the middle/end of that article he talks about ways to ALIGN the hdd using software tools. Does this work with unraid ?

No.  unRAID, at this time, starts its partition on sector 63.  Hopefully, at some future time, that will change.   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Which looking at Samsung's history, they usually fix this type of thing through firmware..... 

 

Maybe if more people contact their support department, it might speed up getting a firmware patch.

 

I received a response from @Samsungservice re: using this drive (or jumper setting) with a OS that starts the partition at sector 63.

According to our techs it is not possible. Hope this helps. Thanks! ^Jess

 

Didn't really "help". ;D  Asked a follow up if this would be possible to correct in a firmware upgrade.  Will post when I receive a response.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

so, just noticed this thread....

I already have 3 HD204UI's about to be delivered from newegg...

 

so what do I do?

 

use them anyway? its just for DVD's... will there be any long term issues?

 

return them? hopefully no restocking fee? (plus then I need to wait that much longer to bring my unRAID online...)

 

should I just run and hide and pretend this never happened?

 

whats the best option?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

so, just noticed this thread....

I already have 3 HD204UI's about to be delivered from newegg...

 

so what do I do?

 

use them anyway? its just for DVD's... will there be any long term issues?

 

return them? hopefully no restocking fee? (plus then I need to wait that much longer to bring my unRAID online...)

 

should I just run and hide and pretend this never happened?

 

whats the best option?

 

 

Newegg is very good about returns, they really care about keeping their customers happy.  Just yesterday they gave me $20 back because they were unable to provide me the invoice I needed for a rebate.  Stellar customer service in my opinion.

 

Therefore, I would suggest this: get on their live chat and explain to them that you just found out that the drives you ordered are incompatible for the server application in which you intend to use them (or you could just say you want to use them with WinXP if you want to keep it simpler).  Ask them if they will let you cancel the order or return them without a restocking fee.  They may offer you store credit, which would be fine since you could just use it to get drives that will work with unRAID, such as WD EARS w/ jumpers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So when WD finlly announced this new format, the only benefit I remember being touted is more space (upto 11%?). So far all I can see is slower performance... another great idea badly implemented by commitee (actually they bottled it and left it to the HDD makers) and it only took ten years to cock it up this badly.

 

Has anyone tried a 4096 byte sector drive on a supported OS to see if you do actually get any extra space as touted by WD? I suspect not.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I understand it, the 'extra space' is invisible to the user.  Basically, advanced format drives are able to cram more data into the same physical platter surface area (4x as much, if I understand it correctly).  This means that they can start manufacturing drives with much higher capacities without increasing the number of platters.  This is good for power savings, weight, heat, etc.  A 2 TB advanced format HDD will still appear as a 2 TB hard drive to the user even when used in a supporting OS, such as Win7.  There's no hidden space to be unlocked, or anything like that.

 

I agree that this whole issue is quite annoying, and it makes choosing a 2 TB drive rather daunting...they all seem to have some problems (at least all the green ones do).  Still, pretty much every time a new technology is introduced there will be an awkward transitional phase.  As consumers we just get to whine a lot and ultimately tough it out.  And won't it be fun when all our non-advanced format drives (which I'm sure they'll soon start calling 'legacy drives' or similar) will be incompatible with new systems!  Not for any good reason, of course, just because they want us to upgrade to the latest and greatest.  Kind of like how Windows XP is now claimed by Microsoft to be 'incompatible with the internet' because it still ships with IE6.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, it seems I have another option...

 

use the Samsungs in one of my NV+... seems infrant is up to date on their file systems... at least with their latest firmware release...

 

 

um... why is a hardware device (NV+) more up to date than a software device (unRAID)??? shouldn't it be the other way around?

although, I guess, just going by the date of the 5.0 beta posting, it may be that limetech is following the Duke Nukem Forever release schedule? hopefully that works out better for Limetect than it did for 3drealms ;) btw, slightly off topic... anyone know when DNF will be released... I was a huge fan of DN3 back in the day....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Copyright © 2005-2017 Lime Technology, Inc. unRAID® is a registered trademark of Lime Technology, Inc.