Drobo mini drive help

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by maflynn, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #1
    Any suggestions on drives for a drobo mini.

    I'm thinking along the lines of these drives
    Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012 500GB 5400 RPM
    Western Digital Scorpio Black wd5000bpkt 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA
    Seagate Momentus 7200.4 ST9500423AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA

    I'm planning on using the drobo with the thunderbolt port, so that being the case would I be better suited with a 7200rpm drive over the 5400rpm?

    I've been out of the loop on getting drives so long, does it matter which maker I go with WD or seagate?

    Price isn't really a factor as they're all pretty close in price.

    ----------

    Additional question,
    Is there any value or wisdom in buying 2 seagates drives and 2 WD drives (7200rpm flavors) and having a mixed set up or having all the drives in the drobo from a single maker?
     
  2. John Kotches macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
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    Troy, IL (STL Area)
    #2
    Why only 500gb drives? You can go larger for a reasonable price and in my experience you will be glad you did.

    Also I strongly recommend all drives identical.
     
  3. maflynn thread starter Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Boston
    #3
    Thanks, I went with 750GB drives. I initially thought of 500GB drives because of the price was so low and for the seagate, I saw some reports that the 750 was prone to failure. Given my needs 500gb seemed like a good choice.

    In the end I purchased the WD black 750 drive, which was on sale and so only 5 dollars more then the same WD 500 drive.
     
  4. harly macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2013
    #4
    Hey maflynn,

    how are those drives working out for you? Do you have done any speed measurements? Are you using a SSD cache?

    I recently bought a drobo mini and am now looking for drives as well. I want them to run cool because I do not want my drobo to start turning up the fans. But on the other side I want reasonable transfer rates - them being >100MB/s.

    My choices right now boil down to:

    - HGST's Travelstar 7K1000 HTS721010A9E630 (1TB, 7200) - fastest drive on the market - also good efficiency
    - WD Scorpio Blue WD10JPVT (1TB, 5400) - This seems to be the drive with the best performance per Watt on the market right now.
    - HGST's Travelstar 5K1500 (1,5TB, 5400) - This fellow is so new it is barely out yet. Apart from the announcement I found only a few retailers which list them as inbound. But it would result in the highest data capacity.

    Also it I go for a SSD cache it will probably be a m4 (cheap and fast) in either 128 or 256 GB.

    What do you guys think?

    - harly
     
  5. opinio macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2013
    #5
    The HGST 7200rpm 1TB is the fastest 2.5" HDD that I know of.

    Certainly it is faster than the Scorpio Black.

    I have one in a fusion drive on a Mac mini.

    I've run it 24/7 since its release in February.

    Very happy with its speed.
     
  6. harly macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2013
    #6
    Thanks opinio,

    can you say something about the noise of the drive. Usually 7200 rpm drives tend to be louder than their 5400 rpm counterparts.
    Right now i am leaning towards the WD blues because they seem to offer a good trade-off between speed and efficiency. Plus there will be four of them in the Drobo so it should be fast enough. I found an article where it states that you can get 200 MB/s read and write by just using 4 HDDs (so without the SSD accelerator). That would be awesome and if so the speed I loose due to lower disk rotations speed is acceptable when I could get a more quiet environment instead.

    - harly
     
  7. maflynn thread starter Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Boston
    #7
    I'm not using the eSata SSD, and the drives are working well. I'm happy with the WD drives. Speed has been good, for some reason I was getting phenomenal speed on thunderbolt but that's settled down and I'm averaging 200 - 300 MB/s writing and 200 MB/s reading. I suspect its because drives are a bit fuller and I've recently updated OSX, so maybe something is up with the update.

    I'm still very happy with the performance of the Mini and the drives.
     
  8. opinio, Aug 21, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2013

    opinio macrumors 65816

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    #8
    There is no noise at all. I simply cannot hear the drive although it is in a Mac mini.

    You should be able to get 200MB/s on a RAID 0 set up of just two 7200rpm drives. That's without any SSD acclorator. I get 270MB/s using two USB3.0 stock standard seagate backup plus drives that have 4tb 7200rpm barracuda drives inside. I run them in a RAID 0 setup through Apple Software raid in the disk utility app.

    Also it's worth noting the Touro Pro usb3.0 drive has the HGST 7200 1tb inside if you want to pull it out. Owc does that. Make sure it is the Pro version though.
     
  9. harly macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2013
    #9
    Hey,

    I just ordered the 4x HGSTs 7k1000. I am still not sure it was the right decision. But various reviews stated that they use not as much power as other 7200rpm drives (e.g. the scorpio black) and they are very quiet themselves.
    The only thing I am worried about now is that they will somehow become too warm for the drobo mini and that he has to turn up the fans to cope with it ...
    When booting the drobo mini one can hear how loud those fans can actually become and that makes me worried :confused:

    In any case you will hear back from me.

    - harly
     
  10. harly macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2013
    #10
    So,

    after a weekend of testing I can report various things, here we go:

    Setup:

    Mac mini (2011 - 2.3 GHz - 8 GB)
    Macbook Pro (2012 - 2.2 GHz i7 - 8GB)
    Drobo Mini (4x HGST Travelstar 7K1000)
    Drobo Mini (1x Seagate 5400rpm drive)

    General impressions:
    The setup of the Drobo in general is quite easy and apart from the fact that you have to restart the device you install the Drobo dashboard on it, everything is straight forward.

    Noise:
    The reference for noise is my Mac mini - it is basically silent most of the time and even with the fans active and the HDD spinning it is still barely noticeable.

    When I tested the Drobo mini with one HDD it was already as loud and sometimes louder than the Mac mini. In addition the fans emit noise in a lower register which for me makes it more noticeable.

    With the Drobo mini fully loaded it is as loud as a "normal" desktop computer - think power supply fan plus some large internal fans.

    Performance:
    Now to the important part. I tested the Drobo mini on my Mac mini and my Macbook Pro.
    I loaded the Drobo with some Data (750 GB) so roughly a quarter of its total capacity with 4 disks in single-redundancy mode, then I performed the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. Additionally I copied files from my internal SSDs to the Drobo and back to verify the real-life performance. The results presented below are the sustained performance the device did achieve.

    Mac mini: Write: 130MB/s Read: 180MB/s
    Macbook Pro: Write: 260MB/s Read: 210MB/s

    I want to mention that I have mixed feelings about this results I intended to only test with my Mac mini as this is where the Drobo will spend the rest of its hopefully long life attached to. But after the disappointing results (after all my research on the internet I was expecting 200 MB/s read and write out of the box) I could"t shake the feeling that it may not be Drobos fault. So I tested with my Macbook Pro and the anticipated speeds actually showed up. I don"t know what to do with that as of yet. At least that would explain why there are so many varying speed impressions of the Drobo mini around.

    Personal Conclusion:
    The Drobo mini provides me with enough storage (2,6 TB) right now plus I can still backup it on a single 3TB hard drive. The ability to upgrade it in the future is very important to me and I can see me upgrading to a full set of 2TB (HDD or SSD) disks when the time comes.
    The Performance surpasses those of single internal drives but attached to my mac mini falls short of the expectations.
    It is quite noisy and therefore forces my to think to solve this problem.
    In conclusion I have to say I am not as impressed as I wanted to be. The results on my Macbook Pro are very convincing and basically are the only reason why I will keep this setup. But judging from the results my Mac mini gave me and the noise level (again it is not very high but noticeable when walking into the room) I could understand how people are disappointed from the device. Something I could not really understand from just reading the internet.

    - harly
     
  11. nateo200 macrumors 68030

    nateo200

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2009
    Location:
    Northern District NY
    #11
    Can you run this little guy in JBOD mode (just a bunch of disks)? I asked for this for christmas as I wanted an inexpensive RAID solution that could achieve >200MB/s....I've sort of nervous as I've seen bad reviews from when it came out along with good reviews showing 270-300MB/s. I'm thinking of grabbing 2 more Intel 520 180GB SSD's since I already have one to set up RAID 0 and then use a 750GB Seagate for the single drive redundancy. I think its weird that the Drobo isn't getting 475MB/s+ given its wall powered, thunderbolt, and up to 4 drives...I wish drive enclosures would be more realistic price wise! I used to run RAID off dual USB 2.0 drives using OS X software and I only had to pay for the drives...why are RAID systems that don't include drives so expensive? I'm assuming its the cost of the RAID controllers (if even present) + thunderbolt but even then its still pricey!
     
  12. priitv8 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #12
    IMHO Drobos don't even run pure RAID, so they don't use RAID controllers. There was one article that attributed poor performance of old (ie FS) model to DC ARM SoC: one core runs the BeyondRAID redundant filesystem, the other all the rest, incl ext I/O and UI.
    PS current lineup uses QC SoC, whence the performance improvement.
     
  13. harly macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2013
    #13
    @nateo200

    Hey,

    to directly answer your questions:

    JBOD:
    No. You will not be able to run a JBOD in this or any Drobo device. As priitv8 pointed out they are running their proprietary BeyondRaid. This also means that in case of a technical problem on the Drobo side you will not be able to access your files except you put the disks into a new Drobo - just to keep that in mind.

    To your planned setup:
    Check the Capacity Calculator for insights on how much capacity you will end up with. I would not recommend the setup as you do not have control on how the data is distributed among the drives and therefore the speed might be limited by your platter and the capacity is limited by three 180GB solids ... worst of both world situation.
    Either go speed (4 SSDs) or go big (4 HDDs). From my experience the former will not give you tremendously more performance than the latter in a Drobo. So I will always recommend to go big. Put in four 7k drives and you will get your >200 MB/s sustained read/write performance. It is important to note that you need to drive the Drobo with four drives to gain best performance.

    Price:
    True these "Raids" aren't cheap but they provide you with a certain level of performance and comfort. The big plus for Drobo is the easy upgradeability which you will barely find in any other system. This and the flexibility to run with different drives within a setup makes it an investment for a hopefully long time.

    If you need performance over everything the Drobo mini is probably not the right call. I kept mine because I get my >200MB/s sustained performance and I can upgrade to larger disks when they become available. And for the current price I think it is a good compromise device which can achieve satisfying speeds.

    - harly
     
  14. nateo200, Dec 1, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2013

    nateo200 macrumors 68030

    nateo200

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    #14
    I asked specific questions in the red bold italics. Thanks.
     
  15. harly macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2013
    #15
    Hey,

    So in principle you are right - it seems as you can use the disk utility to configure the Drobos' drives in whichever way you like. However it would mean (at least that is my understanding as of now) that you circumvent the raid controller in the Drobo - essentially ending up in a software RAID which might not be able to perform as well. And of course you disable one of the most significant buying reasons for Drobos - the BeyondRAID.

    The Lady is of course happy with it given that gigabit ethernet saturates at around 100-120 MB/s depending on cables and switches/routers (assuming everything is gigabit compliant) in between. Therefore the Drobo cannot become a bottleneck as soon as you are using more than three drives.

    Without being able to proof my hypothesis I would not expect benefits from the SSD cache as much. I have the feeling that people were not able to speed up their Drobos with them. In parts I think this is due to the fact that the mSata Drives below 256GB are not faster than the Drobo itself and partly due to the fact that most people are not testing properly e.g. SSD cache should help with latency and random writes of smallish files.
    I know that these hybrid approaches with auto-tiering can be a big thing but I have not seen anything that really convinced me to spend the money for a 256GB SSD.

    I have read some studies for deployment of SSD "cache-disks" in compute nodes when running large cluster installations and their assessment was that they could use the drives 30 years before they would start loosing sectors. And their demands where quite high. So I am pretty sure you do not have to worry too much even when the SSDs they tested may be SLCs and all consumer drives use MLCs or TLCs.

    I actually doubt that it is a driver issue. I think the limiting factor is the deployed RAID complexity which invokes multiple read/writes for every single operation to ensure data integrity. So I see it in a way that you pay a certain overhead for this kind of features per disk and you will not get rid of that unless you either change the RAID algorithm or the bottleneck is the controller-speed and you exchange it. But either way I would assume what you see is what you get and it is unlikely to change much in the future (sticking to the same hardware). In line with my assumptions is the fact that the "scaling" of performance in my Drobo was pretty much along the number of disks I put in. Meaning that 4 disks performed twice as fast as 2 and so on. Therefore a Drobo runs best fully stacked.

    Unfortunately I cannot comment on the speed degradation of the Drobo since I did run a disk filler test but one would expect the degradation to basically come way alter than on a single disk as the data on same size disks should be more or less evenly distributed.
    See also this link to compare the performance of the 5D and the mini.

    The 10k drives are not officially supported by the Drobo mini - probably because of heat issues - idk ?! But more to the point of noise. I have my living-room Drobo mini in a small "closed" IKEA cabinet (It is basically a cube with one side missing which faces the wall to ensure airflow and easy cable management.) And from my sofa it is not noticeable anymore. I think in a working environment it would only be noticeable when you have it right on your desk in front of you.

    Here is something that might interest you as well:

    I just saw that Promise released their new Thunderbolt2 Raids and there is a 4bay box which is $699 - which I think might be interesting in a RAID 5 or even a pure RAID 0 if you want the speed. The previous version showed performance between 360 and 630 MB/s depending on file size and RAID level. I am just mentioning it because I am quite intrigued about it. I also saw that the Drobo 5D dropped to $699 so there are options for people interested in 3.5 inch solutions.
     
  16. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    Estonia
    #16
    I don't think this will be possible. The BeyondRAID (is a software solution, not a controller!) sits so low between Drobo external interface and disk array, that whatever you do in DiskUtility (eg create multiple partitions), they will all be realised on top of Drobo's virtual BeyondRAID volume.
     

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