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Data Storage Australia

Hard Drive Overclocking Competition From Secau 162

Posted by timothy
from the spit-it-out dept.
Blittzed writes "We were reminiscing about the good old days of overclocking CPUs and memory, and the subject of hard drive overcloking came up. The discussion / argument we were having in the research lab ended up in a bet which now has to be settled. So, we are putting our money where our mouth is, and putting up $10,000 to anyone who can read a 500GB drive in under an hour. We will also consider other attempts with a smaller amount of money in the event that the one hour is not possible. There are a few rules (e.g. the drive still needs to work afterwards), but otherwise nothing is ruled out. Specific details can be found on the URL. Go let the white smoke out!"
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Hard Drive Overclocking Competition From Secau

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  • by Niedi (1335165) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @07:45PM (#36629262)
    And the link is dead already? That was quick...
    • by wizzy403 (303479) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @07:46PM (#36629276)

      Someone let the white smoke out...

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by cultiv8 (1660093)
      The OP forgot to mention which HDs they were trying to overclock...
      • by Sulphur (1548251)

        The OP forgot to mention which HDs they were trying to overclock...

        How big is your hard disk?

        He replies with hand gestures.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        I'm failing to grok this. My two year old Velociraptor can sustain something close to 138MB/s transfer with no tweaking (the speed needed to read 500GB in an hour).

        Is there really no enterprise-level drive that can manage this...?

        • by jimicus (737525)

          I'm failing to grok this. My two year old Velociraptor can sustain something close to 138MB/s transfer with no tweaking (the speed needed to read 500GB in an hour).

          Is there really no enterprise-level drive that can manage this...?

          I'm hazarding a guess here, but I suspect that sustained transfer rate is for contiguous data - and even then it sounds a little high. As soon as you have to move the head to read the data (because large contiguous reads are really rare), you can expect to see the sustained rate plummet like a suicidal lemming.

  • They should have considered spending some of it to upgrade their hosting.

    • Their hosting was only good for 500GB per hour, which they bet $10,000 that it was impossible for the Interwebs to read.

  • An hour? (Score:5, Funny)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @07:54PM (#36629340)

    An hour!? I have a 500GB drive on my desk and I can read it in under a minute! The first line says: "Seagate Barracua 7200.11 500 Gbytes" The entire label has only a few dozen words and serial numbers.

    • Re:An hour? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:09PM (#36629450)
      With a Seagate Barracuda I think the challenge is getting the thing to actually run for over a minute.
      • Re:An hour? (Score:5, Informative)

        by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:14PM (#36629472)

        With a Seagate Barracuda I think the challenge is getting the thing to actually run for over a minute.

        I just ran smartcl here and the two Seagate Barracudas in this machine have each been running for 29,908 hours.

        • Re:An hour? (Score:5, Funny)

          by jamesh (87723) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:19PM (#36629492)

          With a Seagate Barracuda I think the challenge is getting the thing to actually run for over a minute.

          I just ran smartcl here and the two Seagate Barracudas in this machine have each been running for 29,908 hours.

          I see what you're saying... even the SMART data is corrupt.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          I can top this with my old 2x 200GB seagate barracuda 7200.7 drives. Used to be used together in raid0 on my old machine, now been in use as separate drives (one as system drive).

          They're yet to cause problems, unlike several other brands I had to kick into the curb while these two lived. Their power on time is reported as 43092 and 45394 hours respectively by S.M.A.R.T.

          You're probably talking about that specific failure in barracuda family, 7200.11. I had one of those, and had the typical problem (logic boa

          • by yourlord (473099)

            I have 4 18GB 10krpm Seagate Cheetah U160 SCSI drives I bought in 2000, and which have been run 24x7 virtually ever since (other than brief down times for maintenance, etc)..

            That's roughly 87000 hours of run time on all 4 of them, with no failures. I retired them this past March along with the RAID controller they've been married to all this time. I retired them not due to failure (though the bearings in one sounded like the end was drawing near), but because I needed more storage in the server.

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              Worth noting that there's a major difference between 10k rpm SCSI drives and standard 7200rpm IDE ones, both in terms of manufacturing quality and cost.

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          I've got an old Seagate 2.1Gb SCSI Barracuda that's been running since the 1950's.

          You start it with a pull-cord, like an old lawnmower. Sounds about the same, too.

          I'm not sure I can read that in under an hour, though.

          • by Sulphur (1548251)

            I've got an old Seagate 2.1Gb SCSI Barracuda that's been running since the 1950's.

            You start it with a pull-cord, like an old lawnmower. Sounds about the same, too.

            I'm not sure I can read that in under an hour, though.

            Will it run Stuxnet?

          • by number11 (129686)

            I've got an old Seagate 2.1Gb SCSI Barracuda that's been running since the 1950's.

            Now, that's impressive. Presumably a secret project that IBM stole for their first model, which was introduced in 1956. But IBM's only had fifty 24 inch platters, with a total capacity of 5MB, and it needed 3-phase power and a forklift to move it. Yours is a lot bigger. But is it faster than IBM's (whose access time was close to 1000 ms)?

          • by hedley (8715)

            He means it's been running since about 10 to eight.

          • by SharpFang (651121)

            The problem is not the old disks. Actually, the older, the more reliable. It's the newest disks that are the worst. When you boast "My disk is running fine for 5 years already" you're talking about a disk from 5 years ago. And it's the disks from 2 years ago that keep dying on us. Tollerances get

            • by AmiMoJo (196126)

              Not really as during the life of the disk it will remap failing sectors to some spare unused blocks that are kept specially for that purpose. Once it runs low on spare blocks it will generate a SMART warning, and when it runs out you are screwed. The more hours the drive has on it the fewer spare blocks it is likely to have left.

              • by SharpFang (651121)

                The surface, the bad blocks is not really the problem here. Sure it degrades and starts slowing down, and eventually bad blocks may happen. But far sooner the disk motor bearing will die from constant vibrations, the head mechanism bearing will fail, the seals will leak moisture inside (and the dessicant bag will reach its capacity), the lubricant supply for the bearings will run dry, the "emergency parking" mechanism of the head will get stuck, capacitors will die on the PCB, and so on...

                The magnetic surfa

        • by Skal Tura (595728)
          We got hundreds of 500Gb & 750Gb Barracudas online. Annual failure rate is about 4%, but did peak at 7.38% at one point. Larger seagates are the worst drives ever, starting from 1Tb. Their sustained maximum contiguous read spead is about 22M/s only, if you are lucky! (We've tried ES.2 and Constellation only if i recall right, both high end drives, Constellation meant for enterprise only, and ES.2 if i recall right was basicly 'cuda meant for RAID required envs like video editing, for which their sustai
    • by Freultwah (739055)
      You won't be able to push any more than 18 gigabytes in a minute through SATA-II and that's in theory. So theoretically one could read a 500 GB drive in ~28 minutes, but the drives just aren't nowhere near as fast. Then again, maybe your Barracua is many fold faster than Barracudas. I know my Sonny cassette player was faster than that from Sony.
      • by nagnamer (1046654)

        You won't be able to push any more than 18 gigabytes in a minute through SATA-II and that's in theory. So theoretically one could read a 500 GB drive in ~28 minutes, but the drives just aren't nowhere near as fast. Then again, maybe your Barracua is many fold faster than Barracudas. I know my Sonny cassette player was faster than that from Sony.

        You should try Sany. Way faster than even Sonny. The only problem I had with it is it would only read the cassette once and then you need a new player... and a new cassette.

    • by w0mprat (1317953)
      They seem to scale well, reading a Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1500Gbytes took 0.1 seconds longer.
  • Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by screwzloos (1942336) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:08PM (#36629440)
    I don't get it. 500GB in an hour would be about 140MB per second (yes, I am rounding up). Most of the enterprise level 15K drives are right in that range without any overclocking, with a couple well above that. Do I win ten grand for buying a Seagate Cheetah 15K.7 for $450 and bringing it in to show that it works?

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/enterprise-hard-drive-charts-2010/Throughput-Read-Average,2156.html [tomshardware.com]

    No, I didn't look at the page. It's Slashdotted.
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mariushm (1022195) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:21PM (#36629510)

      It's about 132 MB/s actually - remember, it's multiples of 1000, not 1024 and then some space is used by the file system.

      Anyway, it's not clear what they want just from the description here on Slashdot. Read the labels of the drive? But seriously, one could get a 2 TB drive or whatever drive has the most density these days and make it show up as 500GB drive... I believe it's called http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/short-stroking-hdd,2157.html [tomshardware.com]

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

      by a_nonamiss (743253) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:28PM (#36629562)
      Is that 15k RPM drive a "Western Digital Caviar Black 3.5" SATA 500GB hard drive (WD5002AALX)." It's stated pretty clearly in the rules that it needs to be that model. I don't think they're going for a speed test here, because there are plenty of SSDs that blow that speed away. They're trying to take a "normal" drive and super-speed it, for forensic purposes.
      • So, upping the RPM obviously, but there must be various actuator settings in firmware that could be tweaked - safeguards, gain settings? What are the possibilities? I've never seen this done or even talked about, most people are "afraid" of hard drives, amazed they even work at all.
        • Yes, I think you are on the right track here. If some people manage to reverse engiceer those dirty details how the HD works, then with that info a lot of HD could be recovered.

          e.g. now a HD is considered dead if you do nog have a identical controller chip. If you can figure out how that controller chip is actually working, you can retreive a lot of data more simple.

          The problem is that everybody still considers the HD a black box. If it works, fine, if it not works buy a new one.

          However there might be a lot

          • Well overclockers take a "cheap" low end processor (especially back in the C2D days, take a "Pentium Dual Core" and crank it up, get 99% of the performance of a C2D EE chip many times the cost. Why not figure out how to take a "cheap" 5400 RPM drive and figure out how to crank it up.

            Chip makers are known to sandbag their chips especially after a design is mature. They detune chips and sell them as low performance pieces to fill the market, and the performance is there for the taking with no real risk to t
        • by Agripa (139780)

          Western Digital no longer publishes the internal organization for their drives but 126 MB/s over 500 GB yields about 1 hour and 6 minutes to read the entire drive in the best case. It is proportionally longer of course for larger drives since only one head can be read at a time and head switches require at least the same amount of time as a adjacent track seek.

          Without physically raising the spindle speed, I do not believe it will be possible to lower the time to read the entire drive significantly. The sp

    • by Mitsoid (837831)
      They specified a brand and model that had to be used (e.g. the net result would be an X% increase in speed).. I think they also limited the hardware modifications you can do.
      So this is a test to make a hard drive 'over clock' and I believe they mean it in the sense like we do for CPU and memory -- Software/voltage/etc.. More cooling would be okay, but not disassembly of the hard drive
      • by mysidia (191772) *

        More cooling would be okay, but not disassembly of the hard drive

        You could replace the drive firmware with a hacked one that changes error detection behavior, changes the way the buffer/cache is used to optimize the drive for the contest's access pattern, or kills any power saving features.

        The other thing would be changing characteristics of the drive's mounting to reduce vibration to insanely perfect vibration dampening for maximal mechanical performance.

        • by Cramer (69040)

          In all modern IDE/SATA drives, the firmware is stored on the plater, not in an eeprom. And for most manufacturers, it's not field accessable. Plus there's zero documentation for the firmware / internal processor(s) outside of the manufacturer's labs. (and maybe the company making the chips.) Hacking the firmware is beyond the reach of anyone who would be wowed by a $10k prize.

          • by citizenr (871508)

            In all modern IDE/SATA drives, the firmware is stored on the plater, not in an eeprom. And for most manufacturers, it's not field accessable. Plus there's zero documentation for the firmware / internal processor(s) outside of the manufacturer's labs. (and maybe the company making the chips.) Hacking the firmware is beyond the reach of anyone who would be wowed by a $10k prize.

            Its not that mysterious. People mod DVDrom firmwares every day. HDD is just a DVDrom with magnetic media :)
            + firmware IS "field accessible". Every HDD on the market can have firmware updated by end user.

    • by slinches (1540051)

      Does it have to be a spinning platter drive? If not, some of the PCI-E SSDs can get over 1GB/s sequential reads which would easily put a 500GB read at under 10 minutes. Of course, you'd likely have to spend at least half of the $10k prize on the drive itself.

    • by b0r1s (170449)
      Meh. 15k drives, multi drive arrays, there's no reason to overclock CPUs anymore, and there's no reason to overclock hard drives. More cores scales better than overclocking, and more spindles scales WAY better than overclocking.

      Orgrimmar:DATA admin$ df -h | grep disk7
      /dev/disk7 18Ti 238Gi 18Ti 2% /Volumes/DATA
      Orgrimmar:DATA admin$ date ; dd if=/dev/zero of=test.bin bs=16k count=10240000 && du -sh test.bin && dd if=test.bin of=/dev/null bs=32m ; date
      Thu Jun 30 22:47:45 PDT
  • by allanw (842185) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @08:10PM (#36629452)
  • Post a bounty on slashdot, watch your drive fry.

  • do not do this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JonySuede (1908576) on Thursday June 30, 2011 @10:07PM (#36630020) Journal

    This is an attempt by a forensic company to crowd-source the development of a product on the cheap. I you can do this, you can make a fortune selling to the different LEAs around the world. But please don't do it, we do not need more efficient spooks.

    • by Paska (801395)

      This is another hidden benefit of Apple hardware that people don't readily consider.

      Apple hardware is very hard to get in and out quickly, covertly, and without a few red flags being noticeable.

      A couple of years (4+ now) ago when I sat in with Apple's instructor led hardware certification labs there were a small team of high tech crime investigators for the Australian Federal Police, and Australian Attorney Generals department attending.

      They weren't interesting in passing the test, they had absolutely *no*

  • Has anyone considered that this is simply a high-profile device for:

    A: Selling amazing amounts of the specified WD 500GB HDD?

    B: Giving WD some free (or nearly so, $10k is pennies in the pot) development of a product line, via a third-party agent?

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday July 01, 2011 @03:28AM (#36631222) Homepage Journal

    What is ironic is that this story precedes the one, that gives the actual reason for this one [slashdot.org].

    It's not too saddle, is it:

    'Federal Wiretaps On The Rise'
    'Hard Drive Overclocking Competition from Secau'

  • Hmmm... HDD have atmosphere seals.
    http://www.pcreview.co.uk/forums/hard-drives-hermetically-sealed-t2014655.html [pcreview.co.uk]

      wonder if varying temperature and pressure will help.

    E.g. doing this in a cold, low pressure environment.
    Or a cold, high-pressure environment.

    • Do your reading in a negative-gravity environment, so time has negative dilation and the data can be read at what seems to be a higher speed to an outside observer. Achieving a faster time frame is left as an exercise for the overclocker.
  • Since I can get to it (after a long delay), perhaps I would just post TFA itself:


    Overclocking Competition

    CPU overclocking is old school, and GPU overclocking isn't much newer. Memory overclocking? Been there done that. For all of you hardware modders looking for something else to let the white smoke out of, have we got a challenge for you! Hard drive overclocking! Why do you want to do this? Because you can! And, in these days of really big hard drives, getting data off the things can take a long ti

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