Toshiba N300 Review and test hard drive: first Toshiba HDD for NAS

Toshiba N300 Review and test hard drive: first Toshiba HDD for NAS

Hard drives for networked storage are now manufactured by Toshiba. Series Toshiba N300 features all the features of high-performance HDDs that are ready for heavy traffic: up to 8 TB, a 7200 rpm spindle speed and a rotational vibration compensation function

In recent years, the magnetic drives of Toshiba have rarely become a reason for news. Despite the company’s achievements in the segment of high-performance server HDD, in the 3.5-inch form factor, Toshiba hard drives to the turn of 2016-2017 still have not overcome the 8 TB mark and do not use helium, while competitors have already reached this level and In a ventilated casing.

However, Toshiba is increasing its activity in this area, both in the market and in technology. Judging by the recent report, the company increased its share in global hard drive shipments from 15 to 24% between the second quarter of 2015 and the fourth quarter of 2016. At the same time, its range of consumer HDDs was replenished with new devices: for desktop computers – Toshiba disks X300, for NAS – retail series Toshiba N300 and similar B2B models with numbers MNMN04ACA *** / MN05ACA ***.

The X300 and Toshiba N300 are retail box-oriented products and are based on the original platform developed in Toshiba’s walls – unlike, for example, the previously released E300 and P300 models that use the HGST mechanic. And due to the increased recording density, Toshiba N300 and MN05ACA *** discs are available up to 8 TB, which is currently the technological limit for a commercial HDD in a ventilated case with standard perpendicular magnetic recording technology.

Toshiba N300: specs, package of delivery, prices

Toshiba N300 series includes three models of 4, 6 and 8 TB hard drives. If competing manufacturers offer two classes of drives for NAS, differing in speed and a set of protection against failures, all N300 disks (like MNMN04ACA *** / MN05ACA ***) are basically server HDDs. This is indicated by the rotation speed of the 7200 rpm spindle and the rotational vibration compensation function, which allows the installation of up to eight hard drives in one enclosure. Among other hardware features, we note the fastening of the spindle from two ends and the two-stage construction of the actuator (the latter is practically an obligatory element for modern high-performance HDDs).

But, despite the advanced mechanics of disks and the ability to work in 24 × 7 mode, Toshiba N300 resides in the consumer class according to the fault-tolerance characteristics: the time between failures is 1 million hours (and not 2 million hours, as in corporate HDDs) and The warranty period is 3 years (not 5 years). However, these parameters speak not so much of the perfection of the mechanics of the disc as much as how meticulously the devices are tested before selling.

Manufacturers of hard drives in recent years have rarely reported the number of plates and the density of recording in their devices, and Toshiba N300 series was no exception. Fortunately, at the declared linear read / write speed, you can confidently calculate these parameters. Models of 6 and 8 TB in size are obviously equipped with plates with useful capacity of 1,200 and 1333 GB, respectively, with a sector length of 4 KB (Advanced Format).

The younger Toshiba N300 4TB has 512-bit markup, however strange it may be for a relatively large hard drive in 2017. Note that the OEM version of the drive (MN04ACA400) is available in two versions – both with Advanced Format and 512-byte sectors. If we take into account that AF increases the useful record density by 9.7%, we are not mistaken, assuming that Toshiba N300 of 4 TB is equipped with plates with the same physical data density as in the 6 TB model. Because of the “old” markup, Toshiba N300 has lost a bit in the speed of sequential read / write, as can be seen from the specifications, but it provides predictable performance when recording blocks that are not aligned on a 4K grid.

Toshiba N300: Methodology of testing

Isolated performance tests

Performed with the help of Iometer 1.1.0. The amount and speed of data transfer is indicated in binary units (1 Kbyte = 1024 bytes). The boundaries of the blocks are aligned with the 4K bytes markup.

Sequential read / write of data in blocks of 128 KB with a request queue depth of 256.

Arbitrary reading / writing of blocks from 512 bytes to 2 MB with depth of the queue of queries 256.

Mixed read / write blocks of 128 KB with a request queue depth of 256. The share of read and write operations varies from 0 to 100% in 10% increments.

Dependence of bandwidth on request queue depth. Reading 4KB blocks is performed, the depth of the request queue varies from 1 to 256 with a degree step of 2. A similar test for writing blocks is not carried out, since hard disks do not differ in this parameter.

Resolved response time. There is an arbitrary read / write of 512 bytes blocks with the depth of the request queue 1. The test continues for 10 minutes.

The consistency of the response time. Arbitrary reading / writing of 4 KB blocks with query queue depth of 256 is performed. For each 1-second test interval, the average and maximum response time are recorded, based on which: a) the average values ​​of both indicators; B) the standard deviation of the mean response time.

Multithreaded read / write. Four threads are created that perform sequential read / write of blocks of 64 KB with the depth of the request queue 1. Threads have access to 100GB non-overlapping address spaces that are located in the disk space close to each other starting from the zero sector. The aggregate throughput of all streams, and also each of them separately, is measured.

Tests with emulated load

In the Iometer 1.1.0. The amount and speed of data transfer is indicated in binary units (1 Kbyte = 1024 bytes). The boundaries of the blocks are aligned with the 4K bytes markup. The depth of the command queue is 256.

PCMark 7 (Secondary Storage). The test drive creates a single partition in the NTFS file system for the entire available volume. The results take into account a) the final score of the test, b) the throughput in individual subtests.

Toshiba N300: Performance, basic tests

Consecutive reading / writing

The speed of consecutive reading / writing of the blocks from the Toshiba N300 corresponds exactly to the declared level of 200 MB / s. Among the test participants having a spindle rotation speed of 7200 rpm, the speed in this test is almost linearly dependent on the recording density. Toshiba N300 4TB is much inferior to competitors, equipped with more capacious plates, but certainly outperforms any modern five-thousandths.

Arbitrary read / write

On the speed of random reading, Toshiba N300 successfully competes with HDDs built on more capacious plates, and in recording speed is second only to HGST disks having a media cache – a system of caching zones distributed over the surface of the plates.

Performance, advanced analysis

Resolved response time

In the test for reading 512-byte blocks with a unit depth of the query queue, the results depend primarily on the mechanics of the HDD, and not on the recording density and the logic of working with the data in the firmware of the controller. Toshiba N300 belongs to one of the best results among the disks with a spindle rotation speed of 7,200 rpm in this test.

In general, when writing small blocks, the volume and throughput of the buffer is crucial. Toshiba N300 confidently ranks first among the test participants, but, obviously, for another reason – because of the sector size of 512 bytes, while the remaining drives with 4K bytes are forced to pre-read the entire sector when a write request for a smaller block .

Bandwidth versus command queue length

With a long queue of instructions, the hard drive works faster the more efficiently the controller uses the capabilities of NCQ. Toshiba N300 again showed one of the best results among the participating in the HDD test for NAS.

Mixed Read / Write

The performance with intensive mixed load depends on the controller logic, the disadvantages of which can negate any hardware advantages of the drive. Alas, this is what happened with the Toshiba N300.

Multithreaded read / write

This test also evaluates the logic of the HDD controller. If you simultaneously read from four disjoint address spaces, the disk either distributes the actions of the actuator evenly between several threads of the commands (which gives the lowest aggregate speed), or selects one or two priority threads and sacrifices the other three (maximum aggregate result). Only rare models in multi-threaded recording involve NCQ and as a result achieve high speed in all streams simultaneously.

Toshiba N300 operates under the first scenario, and moreover it is extremely inefficient – even compared to other hard disks that demonstrate such a pattern of multi-threaded reading.

In multi-threaded recording, the leading role is played by the volume and nature of the use of the buffer. In Toshiba N300 proved to be pretty mediocre, although it’s worth making a discount for a smaller than some competitors, the density of the record. After all, the higher it is, the smaller the distance between the zones of 100 GB in which the recording is performed, which means that the drive can quickly release data from the buffer.

Persistence of response time

In this test, a long query queue allows you to maximize disk throughput per operations per second, but at the same time creates a situation where the response time between sending a request from the host controller (and therefore setting it to the longest queue) and obtaining the result is large enough so that the difference between Its average value and peak was the most pronounced, as was the spread of the response time.

When reading blocks, the Toshiba N300 differs not only in its low mean and maximum response time, but also in its minimal delay spread. With the test record, the N300 also handled extremely well, even if it can not compete with the HGST disk that has a media cache.

Performance, emulated load

The Toshiba N300 was the leader in all emulated load scenarios, except for the web server. Affects the low response time of the N300, and the markup with 512-byte sectors.

PCMark 7

In the test, which emulates various scenarios of desktop loading, Toshiba N300 also successfully competes even with HDDs built on more capacious plates.

Toshiba N300: Conclusions

Specialized hard disks for networked storage are well-deservedly popular due to the combination of an affordable price, on the one hand, and characteristics not typical for desktop computers (24×7 operation guarantee, reliable mechanics and fault protection functions), on the other. Toshiba N300 series is the first Toshiba experience in this category, and judging by the results of the tests of the younger 4TB model, the new key is not inferior to its closest competitors in terms of key performance parameters, and often exceeds those with a higher recording density.


Toshiba N300 Review and test hard drive: first Toshiba HDD for NAS was last modified: April 3rd, 2017 by Tomas Shellby