Weekend tech reading: HDD reliability stats 2015, lens-less 'FlatCam' demoed, robot vacuums reviewed

By Matthew
Feb 21, 2016
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  1. Hard drive reliability review for 2015 By the end of 2015, the Backblaze datacenter had 56,224 spinning hard drives containing customer data. These hard drives reside in 1,249 Backblaze Storage Pods. By comparison 2015 began with 39,690 drives running in 882 Storage Pods. We added 65 Petabytes of storage in 2015 give or take a Petabyte or two. Not only was 2015 a year of growth, it was also a year of drive upgrades and replacements. Let’s start with the current state of the hard drives in our datacenter as of the end of 2015 and then dig into the rest later on. Backblaze

    Is D-Wave's quantum processor really 10⁸ times faster than a normal computer? We have been following D-Wave's claims about its quantum hardware at Ars for a number of years. Over that time, my impression has oscillated between skepticism, strong skepticism, and mild enthusiasm. Back in November, D-Wave issued a press release that basically asked tech journalists to spray paint a finish line just behind their feet and break out a victory flag. It seemed a bit much. But now that D-Wave has declared victory, perhaps it's time to re-examine the skepticism. Ars Technica

    How Google's web crawler bypasses paywalls Wall Street Journal fixed their "paste a headline into Google News" paywall trick. However, Google can still index the content. Digital publications allow discriminatory access for search engines by inspecting HTTP request headers. The two relevant headers are Referer and User-Agent. Referer identifies the address of the web page that linked to the resource. Previously, when you clicked a link through Google search, the Referer would say This is no longer enough.

    The woman who aims to take Tor mainstream "Tor is essential," Shari Steele says over the phone. "Tor is so critically important. We can't afford to not have Tor." That's the kind of thing someone might say when all hell is about to break loose, but Steele sounds downright ecstatic. Over her career, she has taken on United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). She built the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) into an international powerhouse for protecting online rights. The Daily Dot

    Original 1977 Star Wars 35mm print has been restored and released online A restored HD version of the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 35mm print has appeared online. While this isn't the first time that attempts have been made to restore Star Wars to its original theatrical version -- that's the one without the much-maligned CGI effects and edits of later "special" editions -- it is the first to have been based entirely on a single 35mm print of the film, rather than cut together from various sources. Ars Technica

    555 timer teardown: inside the world's most popular IC If you've played around with electronic circuits, you probably know[1] the 555 timer integrated circuit, said to be the world's best-selling integrated circuit with billions sold. Designed by analog IC wizard Hans Camenzind in 1970, the 555 has been called one of the greatest chips of all time with whole books devoted to 555 timer circuits.

    Bulky cameras, meet the lens-less FlatCam Camera technology has improved dramatically in the past decades, but one thing about even the newest cameras has stayed constant: They all have lenses. Now, that's changing. Engineers in Texas are building a camera that can make a sharp image with no lens at all. NPR

    The Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 TH motherboard review: An entry to Thunderbolt 3 At the initial phase of Intel's Skylake processor launch, a myriad of Z170 equipped motherboards were released to enable the platform. One of the prominent features of Z170 was the ability to support Thunderbolt 3 when the motherboard also used Intel's Alpine Ridge Controller and was certified. GIGABYTE had the initial exclusive on the controller, but has had to wait for TB3 enabled devices to hit the market. AnandTech

    Enabling human-robot rescue teams Autonomous robots performing a joint task send each other continual updates: "I've passed through a door and am turning 90 degrees right." "After advancing 2 feet I've encountered a wall. I'm turning 90 degrees right." "After advancing 4 feet I've encountered a wall." And so on. Computers, of course, have no trouble filing this information away until they need it. But such a barrage of data would drive a human being crazy. MIT

    The contrarian response to Apple's need for encryption On December 2, 2015, [Syed Rizwan Farook] and [Tashfeen Malik] opened fire at a San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event, killing 14 and injuring 22. This was the third deadliest mass shooting in the United States in recent memory, and began a large investigation by local, state, and federal agencies. One piece of evidence recovered by the FBI was an iPhone 5C belonging to one of the shooters. Hackaday

    Eternal 5D data storage could record the history of humankind Scientists at the University of Southampton have made a major step forward in the development of digital data storage that is capable of surviving for billions of years. Using nanostructured glass, scientists from the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) have developed the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing. University of Southampton

    Robotic vacuums: a PC enthusiast's primer Owning a robot vacuum can be its own hobby in a number of ways. If you think that notion's a little far-fetched, remember that the site you're reading right now is dedicated to what many people consider to be just computers. A similar community has coalesced around the idea that Roombas, Neatos, and their ilk are more than just vacuums. The Tech Report

    Analysis: 6 ways Street Fighter V tries to reinvent the franchise Capcom is at a crossroads with Street Fighter V. It could have chosen to build a game for the casual players that paid their bills on SF4; certainly Mortal Kombat X's breakaway success in 2015 implies that the market for legacy fighting game franchises with lots of single-player story-driven content is alive and kicking. Gamasutra

    Inside Samsung 837: Samsung's first North American flagship Samsung 837, the Korean giant's first flagship retail space opens on Monday in New York City. Located at 837 Washington Street in the Meatpacking District, the 55,000 square-foot space isn't your typical retail store. In fact, it's not a store at all. Mashable

    Where are they now 2016: Part two I thought it would be fun to go back and take another look at those developers I covered in the early days of Electron Dance. In six years, what has happened to them? In part two: Puppygames, Douglas Wilson and Michael Brough. Electron Dance (part one)

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  2. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Guru Posts: 860   +307

    Looks bad for WD, but following the link I noticed they are running the 'Green' model drives. They are being phased out/ merged into the 'Blue' line. The Green's aren't designed for the use they were put to. I can't say anything about the other brands because I don't know about the specific brand type vs use put to.
  3. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,219   +157

    Seagates are the best period.... :p
    wastedkill likes this.
  4. Lurker101

    Lurker101 TS Evangelist Posts: 726   +224

    I want to know the conditions behind the HDD failures since I've only ever had one WD drive fail so far yet every Seagate I've had has failed in less than a year, including the 4TB SDHD sat in my case right now waiting to be replaced. It actually died today.

    EDIT: After taking a proper look at the article, the results and 'testing batches' are so skewed that they can in no way truly represent the overall build quality of any one supplier.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2016
    p51d007 likes this.
  5. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    It's funny that the conditions are now being questioned, since WD is the highest failure rate.

    Looking at this from a slightly different perspective. Most of the problematic Seagates were likely replaced the last few years. And as a result lowering their failure rate below where they may have normally been. Don't judge WD. After all look at the low failure count of WD, and think of the Seagate cleaning the years before.

    From a personal stand point, I'm still pro-Seagate myself. I don't believe I would have any less of a failure rate with anyone else. Sure I've had a problematic 3TB drive fail, that doesn't discredit the other drives.
    Evernessince and wastedkill like this.
  6. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 853   +352

    NEVER had an issue with WD drives, ever in around 30 years. Seagate, Fujitsu, Maxtor etc...always
    have issues with them. I usually stick with something til it starts giving me problems. For now, I'll
    stick with the WD drives. The HGST drives are just too expensive.
  7. The Seagate 3TB drives are prone to failure. Seagate should have done the right thing, acknowledged the problem and issued a recalled.
    Adhmuz and cliffordcooley like this.
  8. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    I won't argue that point.
  9. Arturo

    Arturo TS Member Posts: 81   +26

    I have a horrible Barracuda 3 TB. It disappears at least one time every week.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    That's probably more to do with the enclosure than the drive. I've dealt with drive disconnects and reconnects as well. The reason I say that is the enclosure I speak of, continues the same symptoms even after the failed 3TB drive was replaced with a 500GB drive. The other enclosures I have don't exhibit the same behavior.
  11. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,617   +494

    It really is too bad they don't have more WD drives in their array, nor do they have any real long term usage on them. That being said I've had 2 WD drives die in the last 6 months and another 2 on their way out. They all have several years of power on time, between 3 and 5 depending the drive, fortunately this happened as I was migrating to my 4x4TB Seagate array, which also seem to be doing pretty good in the charts with a ~3% failure rate. However, I think I'll be going with Hitachi next time I buy drives, if I can find them for a good price locally, you just can't trust drives you buy online, at least I can't.

    Anyone still using a 3TB drive should back it up immediately and then retire it to paper weight status, it won't let you down that way, which it's almost guaranteed to do...
  12. Camikazi

    Camikazi TS Maniac Posts: 797   +217

    I like my 2TB Toshiba drives, have had 4 running for last ~3 years and before that 1TB Toshiba drives, those are still running in friends computers. I haven't really used anything but Toshiba and HGST drives for quite a while now and have had no problems. Plan on moving to 4TB drives probably next year to continue my doubling of data (I started with 4 250GB drives).
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,100   +526

    That's a good stance to take. Seagate does have it's problems but so does every other Hard Disk manufacturer.

    I wish there was a better source for consumer HDD failure rates though.
    Raoul Duke and cliffordcooley like this.
  14. CBTex

    CBTex TS Rookie

    Backblaze's test are worthless. They treat drives do bad, it's not even relevant to any user, enthusiast, professional, consumer or otherwise.

    First of all, they use consumer drives for data center purposes. Those drives are not designed to be hammered on non-stop the way they are using them.

    Second, they cram tons of drives into pods. As many as 90 drives in one pod with the drives directly next to each other separated by basically a rubber band. This is with hardly any cooling. These drives are running way hotter than they ever would in even the crappiest desktop case. They also use almost no vibration dampening. There is a ton of vibration with that many drives so close together. The drives are so close together, there is an amplification effect to the vibration

    It's no surprise they have so many failures. A drive from any of those manufacturers will easily last 5+ when treated normally.
    Raoul Duke and cliffordcooley like this.
  15. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,617   +494

    Exactly why this is worth so much, think of it like extreme testing to find faults in the hardware, similar to how they abuse the **** out of every day products to find faults, just this is on a larger scale and done independently. The car you drive, if you drive, has been testing in all weather conditions, -40c to +40c, typhoons to sand storms, will you be living in any of those extremes?, no probably not, but it's good to know it can. Another example is the keyboard beneath your fingers, granted if it's a well made unit, it has been tested by repeated keystrokes to get the "x million keystroke" number they advertise.

    That being said, if the consumer level drive they are using can last 4+ years in their working conditions, then it'll be more than happy in my well ventilated chassis where it undergoes less than average usage. Granted you can always get a DOA or have a drive fail within the first month, but that's just being unfortunate.
  16. CBTex

    CBTex TS Rookie

    There's a big difference between accelerated use and use of conditions that a normal drive will never see. I can see how a drive being heavily used would be valuable. These drives are not designed to handle significant vibration because they will never see that under normal use, even after 15 years of use. The harmonic vibration induced by having so many drives in close proximity is not an just an extreme use case, it's completely contrary to how these drives are designed

    To take your car analogy, a car that works great in Death Valley won't necessarily work great in Antarctica.
  17. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,617   +494

    Actually, that's exactly what I was saying... Car manufacturers test their vehicles in BOTH conditions, Cold and Hot, Dry and Wet. So yes, a car that works in Death Valley should work in Antarctica.
  18. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Guru Posts: 860   +307

    For me, it is what is the drive designed to deliver vs. what environment is it being used in. If these two are not a match, then you cannot draw worthwhile conclusions.

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