Seagate has introduced a trio of 10TB hard drive models today, as part of the launch of their new Guardian series. There are three main parts to the series: BarraCuda Pro, IronWolf and SkyHawk, all focusing on slightly different markets and available in capacities up to 10TB. The top 10TB models from each segment are based on helium technology, which we have covered in detail in multiple articles. We will be taking a look at the NAS-focused IronWolf series next month, but, a quick look at the performance and features of the BarraCuda Pro is the focus of this capsule review.

Introduction and Testing Methodology

The Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB is a 7200RPM SATAIII (6 Gbps) hard drive based on helium technology with a 256MB DRAM cache. According to Seagate, it typically draws around 6.8W, making it one of the most power efficient 3.5" hard drives in the market. It targets creative professionals with high-performance desktops, home servers and/or direct-attached storage units. It is meant for 24x7 usage (unlike traditional desktop-class hard drives) and carries a workload rating of 300TB/year, backed by a 5-year warranty. The various aspects of the drive are summarized in the table below.

Seagate BarraCuda 10TB Specifications
Model Number ST10000DM0004
Interface SATA 6 Gbps
Sector Size / AF 4096
Rotational Speed 7200 RPM
Cache 256 MB (Multi-segmented)
Rated Load / Unload Cycles 300 K
Non-Recoverable Read Errors / Bits Read < 1 in 1014
MTBF 1 M
Rated Workload ~ 300 TB/yr
Operating Temperature Range 0 to 60 C
Physical Parameters 14.7 x 10.19 x 2.61 cm; 650 g
Warranty 5 years
Price (in USD, as-on-date) $535

A high-level overview of the various supported SATA features is provided by HD Tune Pro, and shows support for common mechanical features such as NCQ.

The main focus of our evaluation is the performance of the HDD as an internal disk drive in a PC. Towards this, we used one of the SATA 6 Gbps ports off the PCH in the testbed outlined below.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard Asus Z97-PRO Wi-Fi ac ATX
CPU Intel Core i7-4790
Memory Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A2133C11
32 GB (4x 8GB)
DDR3-2133 @ 11-11-11-27
OS Drive Seagate 600 Pro 400 GB
Optical Drive Asus BW-16D1HT 16x Blu-ray Write (w/ M-Disc Support)
Add-on Card Asus Thunderbolt EX II
Chassis Corsair Air 540
PSU Corsair AX760i 760 W
OS Windows 8.1 Pro
Thanks to Asus and Corsair for the build components

Performance - Raw Drives

HD Tune Pro 5.50 was used to run a number of tests on the unformatted drive. The gallery below presents some interesting numbers for various access types, and how the location of the data in the platter can affect the performance.

Sustained sequential reads can reach a maximum of 258 MBps, but it can also drop down to as low as 110 MBps. Sequential writes exhibit similar numbers. Random reads get around 65 IOPS, while writes come between 56 IOPS and 264 IOPS, depending on the transfer size.

DAS Benchmarks

The BarraCuda Pro was connected to a 6 Gbps SATA port off the PCH in our DAS testbed. After formatting in NTFS, it was subject to our DAS test suite.

Consumers opting for drives such as the 10TB Seagate BarraCuda Pro typically need high-capacity local storage for holding and editing / processing large-sized multimedia files. Prior to taking a look at the real-life benchmarks, we first check what CrystalDiskMark has to report for the drive.

In order to tackle the real-life use-case of transferring large amounts of data back and forth from the drive, we created three test folders with the following characteristics:

  • Photos: 15.6 GB collection of 4320 photos (RAW as well as JPEGs) in 61 sub-folders
  • Videos: 16.1 GB collection of 244 videos (MP4 as well as MOVs) in 6 sub-folders
  • BR: 10.7 GB Blu-ray folder structure of the IDT Benchmark Blu-ray (the same that we use in our robocopy tests for NAS systems)
Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB robocopy Benchmarks (MBps)
  Write Bandwidth Read Bandwidth
Photos 201.32 181.05
Videos 205.84 192.58
Blu-ray Folder 203.87 199.62

While processing our DAS suite, we also recorded the instantaneous transfer rates and temperature of the drive. Compared to typical disk drives, the write transfers show higher instantaneous speeds due to a combination of the firmware and the 256 MB cache inside the drive. However, sustained write rates are comparable to other high-capacity drives when the cache is excausted. The temperature of the unit at the end of the transfers (more than 250GB of traffic) was less than 35C, pointing to the power-efficiency of the platform.

For the use-case involving editing of multimedia files directly off the disk, we take advantage of PCMark 8's storage benchmark. The storage workload is a good example of a user workload, involving games as well as multimedia editing applications. The command line version allows us to cherry-pick storage traces to run on a target drive. We chose the following traces.

  • Adobe Photoshop (Light)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Heavy)
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Illustrator

Usually, PCMark 8 reports time to complete the trace, but the detailed log report has the read and write bandwidth figures which we present in our performance graphs. Note that the bandwidth number reported in the results don't involve idle time compression. Results might appear low, but that is part of the workload characteristic.

Seagate BarraCuda Pro 10TB PCMark8 Storage Benchmarks (MBps)
  Write Bandwidth Read Bandwidth
Adobe Photoshop (Light) 245.54 10.76
Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) 234.15 12.87
Adobe After Effects 76.35 10.18
Adobe Illustrator 174.86 9.67

Performance with a USB 3.0 Bridge

Seagate suggests that the BarraCuda Pro 10TB is suitable for use in direct-attached storage systems. We put the drive behind an Inatek USB 3.0 to SATA adaptor (using the ASMedia ASM1153E chipset) and processed the CrystalDiskMark benchmark.

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During the benchmark process, we also noted the power consumed by the adaptor at the wall. We found that the combination could draw up to 12W during the spin-up of the hard drive. With no disk traffic, the power consumption dropped down to 3.4W. During the benchmarking process itself, the power consumption at the wall ranged between 6W and 8W.

Concluding Remarks

Coming to the business end of the review, it can be clearly seen that the BarraCuda Pro 10TB is a unique product in the market. It is not often that we see a leading capacity 'desktop-class' hard drive rated for 24x7 operation or workload ratings of 300TB/year. To top it all, Seagate is even throwing in a 5-year warranty. The only disappointing aspects are the load/unload cycle rating and the MTBF - given the positioning of the product, it could have been closer to that of the enterprise drives.

In our evaluation, the drive successfully met all of Seagate's claims. It is pleasing to see helium make its appearance in mass-market consumer devices. Hopefully, economies of scale should help the current MSRPs to go further down in the future.

There is a price to pay for all of the above aspects, though. The MSRP of the BarraCuda Pro 10TB is $535, and it is quite a bit more than that of the other 10TB drives being launched by Seagate today - the SkyHawk surveillance drive ($460) and the IronWolf NAS drive ($470). Seagate's Enterprise 10TB Helium drive, by comparison, is currently on Amazon for $600. We will address these drives in due course in order to accurately map Seagate's performance roadmap.

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  • CaedenV - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    Not a bad starting price, Plus the return of 5 year warranties on Seagate consumer grade HDDs... pretty exciting!

    Now lets see 4-8TB drives drop in price and have 5 year warranties too :) Those are what I am interested in for my home RAID setup.
    Reply
  • wumpus - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    "Consumers"? Presumably this is targeted at someone who just buys the biggest without thinking about it. At $500, it isn't targeted at someone who doesn't have a ton of SSD.

    Reliability is nice, but since you can get 5 3TB (7200rpm) drives for $350 and put them in RAID mode, I'd take that over any single drive (and RAIDing big drives is always more expensive than small drives). I guess the lifespan argument should work if you don't think there is going to be much improvement in spinning hard drives (no point in buying longevity on anything obeying Moore's law), but that only suggests going cheaper in the knowledge that you will simply replace them with SSDs.

    I just hope that anyone who buys one of these realizes that if their time is worth the ease of a single huge drive, their time is doubly worth the backup (and no, RAIDing a bunch of small drives isn't a backup. Although plugging a bunch of USBs and making your backup a separate RAID drive would make a lot of sense. Backups sit around and are likely threatened by stiction).
    Reply
  • magusnebula - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    True, but if your limitation is the number of bays you have, then you would want 10TB (granted if you need that much space). Using RAID 5 no matter the size of the disk, you lose space close to the size of one of your disks. For example in a 6 bay NAS, 10TBx6 @RAID 5 is about 50TB usable. 3TBx6 @ RAID 5 will net you 15TB. Now thats not including a spare which would lose you another disk worth of space. Reply
  • Cygni - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    In what world do you live in where everyone has unlimited NAS bays? Reply
  • valinor89 - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    The same one where everyone has a NAS! Reply
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    The space would be nice but just as a point of pride I don't think I could use a drive sporting that staggering 0.74 MB/s 4K read... even as a storage drive. /Spoiled by SSD Reply
  • Lolimaster - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    Storage drives don't need 4k performance.

    You only care about that for OS/Application.
    Reply
  • Alexvrb - Thursday, July 21, 2016 - link

    Yeah, because reading sequential data really requires a high 4k random performance?? You use a storage drive to store crap like HD video. As LM pointed out, that's completely irrelevant for a mass storage drive. If the sequential read speed is high enough to read a UHD video or two, you're good. Reply
  • Magichands8 - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    I'm going to come right out and say this is almost totally useless. The larger the drive is, the more data you have at risk should it fail. The way to protect against that is RAID. But if you're going to RAID a lot of drives together then the high capacity of each individual drive becomes a liability since the more space you have to recover, should one fail, will make for insane rebuild times to recover the array. That's when high performance becomes more important. But these are relatively very slow performing devices and as you use space the performance continues to degrade. There really isn't a sensible consumer solution for these problems. And if you have lots of media to store and don't have enterprise class resources to do it with you are pretty much out in the cold. For enterprise, this is maybe feasible but if you are a consumer buying this you will also be buying lots of headaches and new problems down the road. Reply
  • Lolimaster - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    RAID is dangeous.

    Just keep your drives mirrored and checked by software. Never all of them by hardware raid.
    Reply

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