A chain is only as strong as its weakest link
One thing many people overlook in a storage system is how the actual drives that go into the system play a vital role in determining the overall dependability of the solution. At the same time, business environments also demand more. They require performance and predictability.
Why we’re introducing our HAT5300 enterprise hard drives
Synology can control what components we use in our NAS. We also design and thoroughly test our DiskStation Manager (DSM) operating system and software ecosystem on our devices to ensure they work well together. But how do we do that for the hundreds of drive models out there in the market?
Compatibility tests, and the derived HCL (hardware compatibility list, also called QVL — qualified vendor list), have been a staple of Synology and other system designers.
They are also notoriously hard to maintain.
Consider the number of product lineups a single drive manufacturer makes, generally at least four — desktop, surveillance, NAS, and enterprise — and the number of capacities — 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 TB, and higher — and finally, the number of systems we have created — over 60 in the past five years alone.
Viewed together, it is no secret that many compatibility test results are “inherited,” whether it is for similar capacities on storage drives or across specific product platforms. There is simply no time or cost-efficient way to validate combinations in such numbers properly.
At the same time, the drive market is also continuously changing. New drive models are introduced frequently, but often marketed in the same way under similar names, even if fundamental recording technologies, the firmware, or manufacturing processes are entirely different.
Even seemingly insignificant changes at the hardware or software level can introduce bigger issues down the road, especially when devices and their drives are pushed hard.
To make matters worse, not all drive vendors are transparent or provide an easy way for customers to know just which hardware revision they are buying before actually receiving the product. This makes HCLs not only hard to maintain for us, but sometimes impossible to follow for our customers.
Reliability requires predictability. Only by building our own drives can we ensure that customers can confidently and dependably pick the best choice.
Bringing more to the table
When we set out to deliver the most reliable drive, we devised our own stress testing regimen based on nearly two decades of industry experience. The HAT5300 has been tested for well over 300,000 hours on every storage platform we have released since 2017.
Intensive tests and thousands of test cycles are designed to replicate datacenter environments and punishing 24/7 availability requirements. Tests range from operations as simple as rebooting the system under different temperatures to complex file-copy tests that can magnify deficiencies in how each drive responds to non-ideal conditions.
However, we didn’t stop at just reliability, we also aimed for performance. Vertical integration between our systems and drives allows us to optimize specifically for the combination of the two. The net result? Up to 23% higher performance than the industry average1 for comparable class drives.
Not only are you getting the most thoroughly tested solution, you’re also getting the fastest hard drives available on the market for a Synology system.
On Synology systems, HAT5300 drives deliver higher sequential read performance in a multi-user RAID environment compared with similar-class drives.
Tight integration with DSM also brings other benefits, like firmware upgrades that get bundled together with operating system updates. Detailed knowledge of the drives and their characteristics also means simpler troubleshooting for potential issues in the future.
With fewer unknown variables in the system, we can provide better and faster support for our customers.
By introducing our own storage drives, we are taking a leap forward to ensure that our storage systems are more reliable, easier to support and maintain, and have an edge in performance.
Our stringent in-house validation across our product portfolio is designed to maximize the time spent on comprehensive stress-testing. Because we believe that presents a stronger value proposition, especially for our business and enterprise customers.
At the same time, engineering efforts backed by years of industry know-how bring unmatched performance and tighter integration right into DSM. The HAT5300 series isn’t just another drive, it is our commitment to pursuing reliability and customer experience.
1. Multi-client sequential read throughput. Performance testing was conducted by Synology using 12 drives on an SA3600, configured using RAID 5, against similar capacity (12TB) and class (Enterprise) drives with IOMeter (64KB blocks). Results are for reference only. Actual performance may vary depending on workload, testing methods, and how devices and software are configured.