Teardown of Apple's new Time Capsule reveals consumer, not server, grade HDD

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
According to one teardown of Apple's Time Capsule released earlier this week, the hard disk drive inside the wireless base station is a consumer version, not a server-grade disk as advertised by Apple.



French Mac site MacBidouille tore down Apple's fourth-generation Time Capsule. The 2TB Time Capsule received by the publication featured a Western Digital Caviar Green HDD.



Various publications have noted that the WD Caviar Green model is generally considered consumer class. However, on its website, Apple advertises the Time Capsule as having a "Serial ATA server-grade hard disk drive."



According to MacNN, a comparable server-grade model to the Caviar Green would be the RE4-GP. However, the RE4-GP does not have a 3TB option.



Apple quietly released the new Time Capsule on Tuesday, adding a 3TB model and discontinuing the 1TB option. Hints of upcoming Time Capsule and Airport Extreme refreshes were discovered inside a routine Airport Utility update earlier in the month.



The first-generation Time Capsule from 2008 used a Hitachi Deskstar, which was also criticized as not being server-grade. The 2009 model used a Western Digital Caviar Blue drive.







The rest of the teardown revealed no other significant changes, though the publication claims that the addition of rumored features, such as a private cloud, an iTunes server for the network, or local storage of software updates, "will certainly come later via a firmware update of the terminal."



Apple also quietly released a new Airport Extreme model on Tuesday. While the company doesn't advertise any specific changes to the device, AppleInsider reported on Thursday that Apple's filing with the FCC for the new Airport Extreme revealed the base station may have as much as a 2.8 times power boost over its predecessor. That power boost could theoretically provide a 60 percent increase in range, but real-world usage will vary.





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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 116
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    I'm pretty sure when the first TC came out there plenty of debate over how "server class" is defined and that the result was 1) Apple is free to label them as such, and 2) that the ratings are higher than HDDs that were originally put in this made up category. I don't see how these drives are any more or less "servery" than the old ones. If you are that concerned about the supposed quality of a storage disc then you aren't likely looking at the TC with it's single, spinning drive.
  • Reply 2 of 116
    and I'll plug in my RAID 1 external storage. The Time Capsule does not convince me at all. WD Green is a poor quality harddrive, I would never buy it as my primary storage.
  • Reply 3 of 116
    ivladivlad Posts: 739member
    I am sure FCC will step in (in a year or two)
  • Reply 4 of 116
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I'm pretty sure when the first TC came out there plenty of debate over how "server class" is defined and that the result was 1) Apple is free to label them as such, and 2) that the ratings are higher than HDDs that were originally put in this made up category. I don't see how these drives are any more or less "servery" than the old ones. If you are that concerned about the supposed quality of a storage disc then you aren't likely looking at the TC with it's single, spinning drive.



    Exactly. "Server grade" is a meaningless term. If you really want a robust backup server, then buy a backup system with at least RAID 5.
  • Reply 5 of 116
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post


    I am sure FCC will step in (in a year or two)



    The FCC would have nothing to do with Apple's claims on hard drives. The FTC might but as it us had been pointed out the claim "server grade" probably isn't specific enough to warrant action.
  • Reply 6 of 116
    coolfactorcoolfactor Posts: 1,431member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post


    WD Green is a poor quality harddrive, I would never buy it as my primary storage.



    Based on what? Can you provide some facts and experience to back up your claim? I'm not saying you are wrong, but when making public statements, generally proof is needed for credibility.
  • Reply 7 of 116
    srangersranger Posts: 469member
    The WD Green drives are of high quality. They are also energy efficient. This allows them to run cooler than a higher performance 7200 rpm drive like the scorpion series. Heat is the enemy of all electronics. Most "server class" hard drives are higher performance, but they are fan cooled. Most servers sound like jet engines.



    I currently have a WD Dual 2t raid 1 NAS. It has been flawless for over two years. It is nearly silent. It does not need fans.



    So, IMHO the green series is an excellent choice in the Time Capsule as the WiFi is currently not fast enough to make any use of the higher performance drives.
  • Reply 8 of 116
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post


    I am sure FCC will step in (in a year or two)



    The Federal Communications Commission? What for? I had no idea that the FCC has some authority over a distinction between a so-called "server grade' HD and the regular kind.
  • Reply 9 of 116
    matrix07matrix07 Posts: 1,993member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gabberattack View Post


    WD Green is a poor quality harddrive, I would never buy it as my primary storage.



    It's not poor quality. It's just energy-frinedly and the cheapest of all WD HDD. You can't call it "server grade" (though I suspect it is popular among many server farms out there because of the price and energy performance). Black: absolutely, Blue: might be.
  • Reply 10 of 116
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Exactly. "Server grade" is a meaningless term. If you really want a robust backup server, then buy a backup system with at least RAID 5.



    Yep - my 4 Caviar Greens in Raid-5 are perfectly server grade, one on it's own, not so much.
  • Reply 11 of 116
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    According to one teardown of Apple's Time Capsule released earlier this week, the hard disk drive inside the wireless base station is a consumer version, not a server-grade disk as advertised by Apple....



    This is the exact same story as when the first Time Capsule came out and after a week or so of arguing about it, it turned out that Apple was not lying as per the actual definition of "server grade."



    Five seconds of Googling tells you that a server grade hard drive is one that is rated a million hours MTBF and guaranteed as such.



    The drive in question is the energy efficient model of one of the best hard drive series made. If Seagate or whomever wants to guarantee the MTBF then it's officially "server grade." It seems likely to me that this is just as much of a non-story as the first time.
  • Reply 12 of 116
    jlanddjlandd Posts: 873member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post


    It's not poor quality. It's just energy-frinedly and the cheapest of all WD HDD. You can't call it "server grade" (though I suspect it is popular among many server farms out there because of the price and energy performance). Black: absolutely, Blue: might be.



    Server grade meant something years ago, but these days I agree that it doesn't mean nearly as much as far as actually higher quality. Where the designs are nearly identical and the server warrantee is longer I just assume that the drives are at least getting some better, or an additional layer of, QC. Sometimes the stated MTBF seems more like an insurance policy detail than an actual performance one.





    I think the fan issue in desktop drives has been an interesting evolution. It used to be that we accepted the drone of a fan in a drive enclosure or CPU because we turned it off when we wanted to listen to music/watch a video if it was too loud. They can't get away with anything too loud there anymore, green or not, not only because the computer runs the media but because the computers stay on all the time now. Drives that let you know they're working aren't so popular.



    Servers stay on all the time too, naturally, but most people don't need to watch videos in the server room, so cranked fans can rule : )
  • Reply 13 of 116
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I'm pretty sure when the first TC came out there plenty of debate over how "server class" is defined and that the result was 1) Apple is free to label them as such, and 2) that the ratings are higher than HDDs that were originally put in this made up category. I don't see how these drives are any more or less "servery" than the old ones. If you are that concerned about the supposed quality of a storage disc then you aren't likely looking at the TC with it's single, spinning drive.



    Same stupid argument started in 2008 with the first TC. I think the media just like's to recycle stuff. Probably more fodder for short-selling Apple stock. I've had plenty of drives that lasted for years without any problems and usually I retired them due to needing more storage capacity and not because of failure. I've always used multiple drives so they get a distributed load and I doubt if any drive runs full time since I do have them shut down if not in use.
  • Reply 14 of 116
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post


    Based on what? Can you provide some facts and experience to back up your claim? I'm not saying you are wrong, but when making public statements, generally proof is needed for credibility.



    EDIT: I'm not saying that WD Green is poor quality, just pointing out that it is not the server version of WD hard disks, hence not "server grade".



    http://www.hardmac.com/news/2011/06/...ime-caspule-v4

    "[Update] According to Western Digital, this disk is a general public model. There are also similar models for servers, but they are more expensive as they have a lower bit error rate 1x1015 while this one has 1x1014, 600,000 load/unload cycles (300,000 for this one) and is covered by a 5 years warranty, while this one is covered for 3 years."



    That disk in the Time Capsule is NOT "server grade". Apple has a tendency for hyperbole but calling it "server grade" is in this case, a lie. I make this decision based on the statement by Western Digital reported by Hardmac.com that his is NOT the model of hard disks used for servers, hence it is not a "server grade" hard disk.



    All kinds of companies do these kinds of things, but there is definitely change underfoot at Apple as it becomes more of a "mainstream" kind of company, if it isn't already.



    With Steve unwell it is sad to me to see signs of lack of cohesiveness at Apple, my theme for the year. But all things change.



    Flame away.
  • Reply 15 of 116
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iVlad View Post


    I am sure FCC will step in (in a year or two)



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by diddy View Post


    The FCC would have nothing to do with Apple's claims on hard drives. The FTC might but as it us had been pointed out the claim "server grade" probably isn't specific enough to warrant action.



    I believe you mean the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). I see no reason why an organization charged with overseeing radio communications would give a blip about HDD quality.
  • Reply 16 of 116
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    I think there are three flawed lines of thinking with some of the comments on this thread.



    1. "Well, anyone using this for backup would use RAID anyway, so it doesn't matter if it is server-grade"

    This is besides the point that Apple is advertising this as "server grade".



    2. "Well, hard drives tend to last longer nowadays, so it doesn't matter if it's for servers or not"

    This is besides the point that Apple is advertising the hard drives in the Time Capsule as somehow DIFFERENT from ordinary hard drives.



    3. "The media is blowing this out of proportion and recycling an old attack on Apple"

    This is besides the point that a non server-grade hard drive was found in the updated Time Capsule.



    Any reasonable interpretation of Apple advertising the hard drives in the Time Capsule as "server-grade" would be:

    A. These hard drives in Time Capsule are different than the ones in consumer computers

    B. These hard drives in Time Capsule are normally used in servers



    Where A and B are not fulfilled, Apple is not being truthful, ie. falsely advertising the Time Capsule.



    It could be a mistake in the production line, or what I suspect is a product manager trying to shave some costs, and maybe Apple just hasn't updated the website to remove "server-grade" references.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post


    Same stupid argument started in 2008 with the first TC. I think the media just like's to recycle stuff. Probably more fodder for short-selling Apple stock. I've had plenty of drives that lasted for years without any problems and usually I retired them due to needing more storage capacity and not because of failure. I've always used multiple drives so they get a distributed load and I doubt if any drive runs full time since I do have them shut down if not in use.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jlandd View Post


    Server grade meant something years ago, but these days I agree that it doesn't mean nearly as much as far as actually higher quality. Where the designs are nearly identical and the server warrantee is longer I just assume that the drives are at least getting some better, or an additional layer of, QC. Sometimes the stated MTBF seems more like an insurance policy detail than an actual performance one.



  • Reply 17 of 116
    ajitmdajitmd Posts: 365member
    I had a TC that went bad in just over a year. I had an extra Airport Extreme that I connected to USB HD as a substitute. It was not as power efficient and would not power down... plus made a lot of noise. Apple eventually replaced the TC. Now I use as the primary back-up, I back the TC periodically into another external USB that I turn off.



    RAID are ok on paper. Except that I had RAID 5 in a Dell Server loose 2 drives in a weekend. Fortunately I had back ups for the critical info. It happened again overnight. I know Dell sells junk and it was a mid range unit. My next purchase was a HP rack mounted server with good RAID hardware. Plus I use off site auto back.



    Even I had home it is essential to have some offsite back for important stuff like documents, photos, etc... even if it is to protect from robberies, floods, fires, etc.
  • Reply 18 of 116
    Did it ever occur to anyone that all WD drives are "server grade" and the differentiation is only for marketing purposes?
  • Reply 19 of 116
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JuanGuapo View Post


    Did it ever occur to anyone that all WD drives are "server grade" and the differentiation is only for marketing purposes?



    Western Digital has stated to Hardmac.com that there are distinct differences:



    http://www.hardmac.com/news/2011/06/...ime-caspule-v4

    "[Update] According to Western Digital, this disk is a general public model. There are also similar models for servers, but they are more expensive as they have a lower bit error rate 1x1015 while this one has 1x1014, 600,000 load/unload cycles (300,000 for this one) and is covered by a 5 years warranty, while this one is covered for 3 years."
  • Reply 20 of 116
    l008coml008com Posts: 163member
    My web server has a fast raid of caviar blacks. My home server has a mirrored raid of caviar greens. I don't know if the greens can accurately be called "server-grade", but they make the most sense for a time capsule. Time capsules don't need high performance. They only need reliability and average performance. And using less power is always a nice bonus. As long as the greens prove to be reliable, they should be a great choice. Mine are probably a year or two old and I've had no issues.
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