[Beowulf] Consumer vs. Enterprise Hard Drives in Clusters

Leif Nixon nixon at nsc.liu.se
Thu Jan 22 01:16:16 PST 2009

On Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 1:19 AM, Jon Forrest <jlforrest at berkeley.edu> wrote:
> I've tried to find out what the differences are between
> the enterprise vs. the consumer drives. I've heard
> different answers. One answer I've heard is that the
> enterprise drives use "better" firmware than the
> consumer drives. I wasn't sure whether I should accept
> this explanation, especially since those famous papers
> from Google and CMU said that they didn't see any
> significant differences between the two types of drives.
> Also, since (until recently) the manufacturer's warranty was
> the same on both drive types, I was skeptical about the
> differences between the drives.

Did the Google and CMU studies really compare enterprise and consumer drives?

The terminology in this area is rather confusing. For example, the
large scale studies performed by Netapp (check the proceedings of the
last two FAST conferences) use the term "enterprise disk" to mean
"SCSI/FC", but now we are talking about "consumer" and "enterprise
editions" of SATA drives, right?

AFAIU, the main difference is indeed the firmware. The enterprise editions
have more features (e.g. if the T13 External Path Protection features
ever materialize, I'm sure they will appear first in enterprise
disks), and various parameters are differently tuned. For example, see
the TLER stuff:


Leif Nixon                       -            Systems expert
National Supercomputer Centre    -      Linkoping University

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