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Surveillance Hard Drive Shoot-Out: WD And Seagate Square Off

Seagate Surveillance HDD

While WD was busy color-coding its various product lines, Seagate took a red marker to the names it used to brand storage products. Barracuda, Constellation, and Savvio are no more, replaced by to-the-point labels like Enterprise Capacity and Enterprise Performance. So, it comes as no surprise that the surveillance-oriented product is called the Seagate Sureveillance HDD.

The Surveillance HDD is a seventh-generation device that builds on the previous SV35 series. Similar to WD, Seagate is able to stream from 32 cameras/channels simultaneously, and the Surveillance HDD is rated for 24/7 operation. While WD optimizes its firmware for simultaneous read/write operations, Seagate chooses to focus on write-heavy workloads, which are predominantly large block, sequential transfers. Seagate's claim is that writing represents up to 95% of a surveillance-oriented application. That's in stark contrast to WD's message.

While Seagate doesn't have any of the useful tools on its site to help you select a drive, the company does provide quite a few white papers that present similar ideas. In its Safe and Smart Surveillance Drive Selection Guide, you can see that the Surveillance HDD is positioned between the Video 2.5/3.5 HDD and the Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD. Seagate's Video 2.5/3.5 HDDs are lower-power, lower-cost alternatives, while the Enterprise Capacity 3.5 is meant for large enterprise deployments.

Video 3.5/2.5 HDDSV35 Series HDDSurveillance HDDEnterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD
ApplicationsLow-cost, low-res, SMBCentral monitoring appsHigh-res cameras and camera countsBulk storage, data center, corporate
Form Factor2.5", 3.5"3.5"3.5"3.5"
Capacity2.5": 250, 320, 500 GB3.5" 250, 320, 500 GB, 1, 2, 3, 4 TB1, 2, 3 TB3, 4 TB500 GB, 1, 2, 3, 4 TB
Recommended # of drives1-61-6Up to 1610+
Data securityNoneNoneNoneISE feature in SED
Performance180 MB/s max data rate210 MB/s max data rate180 MB/s max data rate175 MB/s max data rate
Reliability.55% AFR1 million-hr. MTBF1 million-hr MTBF1.4 million-hr. MTBF
WarrantyThree yearsThree yearsThree yearsFive years

This is where we can start to see differences between WD's and Seagate's drives. The Surveillance HDD has rotational vibration (RV) sensors. Their inclusion allows Seagate to support up to 16 Surveillance HDDs in a single system. Seagate also supports Idle3 spin control, decreasing time-to-ready so that the storage system can go into low-power modes more often without the threat of losing camera data during motion detection.

Like the WD Purple, the Surveillance HDD has a 1 million-hour MTBF and a three-year warranty. Seagate also offers a slightly higher ambient operating temperature (70 versus 65 degrees Celsius). But Seagate does not specify yearly workload. It only mentions a "normal I/O duty cycle", which isn't specific by any means.

Another item that jumps out compared to WD's Purple is power consumption. While the Purple has an average operating power draw of 5.1 W, the Surveillance HDD is pulling down 7.5 W. Even standby and sleep power draw are 0.25 W higher than the Purple. WD made power consumption a big bullet point when we talked, and now we can see why.

While we weren't able to get our hands on a Seagate Video 3.5 HDD or Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD, we were able to put many of Seagate's 2.5" enterprise products in the comparison. These drives give us some interesting additional data, especially the high spindle speed, SAS-based models. Because of their form factor and performance, the pricing is an order of magnitude higher than the 3.5" drives.