SMR vs CMR Drives and Determine Them Aside

Shopping for onerous drives was easy. You purchase a good identify model drive of the popular capability and begin utilizing it. Issues nevertheless have gotten a bit sophisticated within the current previous. WD was just lately within the information for sneaking SMR drives into their product lineups with out correctly labeling them. So what’s an SMR drive? Are they inferior to CMR drives? How will you establish them? This information goals to get you in control with all the pieces about SMR and CMR drives and methods to inform them aside.

What Are SMR and CMR Drives

All onerous drives aren’t made equal. They differ vastly by way of cache, latency, search instances, and different issues. Most of those metrics are normally of no concern to the common person. nevertheless, the storage methodology utilized in a drive is a vital issue that has an actual affect on person expertise.

Traditionally, producers employed one thing known as CMR or Standard Magnetic Recording because the default storage methodology. Which means that knowledge is written to concentric round tracks on either side of the platters in a tough disk. Tracks are written facet by facet and there are not any overlaps on this methodology.

Exhausting drives, historically, see elevated capability by two strategies when CMR is employed. Both the variety of platters is elevated or the write density is multiplied.

SMR drive or Shingled Magnetic Recording is a current method that considerably differs from CMR. In SMR, knowledge is written by partially overlapping the present tracks the place knowledge is already current. Using the phrase ‘Shingled’ is an analogy to the overlapped tiles used within the roofing of homes. SMR, due to this fact, achieves extra knowledge capability with out including extra platters or growing knowledge density by stacking tracks on prime of one another.

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SMR vs CMR comparison

Is SMR Drive Inferior to CMR

Technically talking, SMR drives are inferior to CMR drives in most efficiency metrics. Listed below are the the explanation why:


SMR drives are significantly slower than CMR drives. That is very true when write speeds are considered. When knowledge is written to SMR drives, it briefly copies the info to a specialised cache current within the drive. It is because, not like CMR drives, knowledge can’t be written straight into an SMR drive. It must be reorganized into the shingled areas of the tracks. This course of is normally completed throughout idling.

When massive quantities of information have to be written into SMR drives, the cache rapidly fills up inflicting bottlenecks and slowdowns.

Knowledge Corruption

The probabilities of knowledge corruption are larger in SMR drives than in CMR. SMR drives require fixed modification, reorganization, and deletion of pre-existing knowledge on the tracks on the platters. This course of is inherently vulnerable to corruption as there may be plenty of knowledge motion. A sudden energy outage, for instance, in the midst of this course of can put knowledge in danger.

It will probably additionally put different CMR drives in danger when utilized in RAID arrays as SMR drives take longer to be built-in. SMR drives are due to this fact not good candidates as a alternative for useless CMR drives in NAS storage. Backup options that require fixed studying and writing are higher off with CMR drives.

Purposes for SMR Drives


SMR drives are cheaper in comparison with CMR drives. Resulting from knowledge being stacked as overlaps over present tracks, the variety of platters will be decreased considerably. Much less variety of platters means decrease manufacturing prices and fewer utilization of supplies. SMR drives are due to this fact excellent candidates for archiving functions the place there aren’t plenty of rewrites required.

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Power Environment friendly

SMR drives are extra energy-efficient than their CMR counterparts. The general lack of platters and heads required to maneuver about studying and writing knowledge makes it eat much less energy. That is particularly efficient when SMR drives are employed on a bigger scale. Dropbox, the cloud firm revealed that they made appreciable power financial savings by utilizing SMR drives in 2019 as they experimented with the know-how.

Determine Between SMR and CMR Drives

Figuring out if a tough drive is SMR or CMR remains to be a tough endeavor. They don’t seem to be clearly labeled or talked about within the spec sheet by most producers. It isn’t normally revealed in any of the advertising and marketing materials of most drives both. Customers have to concentrate on what these requirements are and should analysis on their very own to establish a drive for what it’s.

Fortunately, lawsuits and controversies have compelled main producers to record which drives use CMR and SMR respectively.

Seagate has made a really clear record that represents which drives of their lineup implement SMR and CMR.

Western Digital has additionally made a weblog publish that reveals the fashions that use CMR and SMR.

Toshiba is one other main producer that has made an official record of shopper drives that use SMR and CMR.

Figuring out SMR Drives With no Record

Not all producers have listed SMR and CMR drives on their websites and never all fashions are lined. So how do you inform them aside if SMR and CMR aren’t clearly talked about wherever? Right here’ how:

Test Drive’s Cache/Buffer Dimension

SMR drives are normally endowed with a a lot bigger quantity of cache than a CMR drive. It is because the drive wants the info to be reorganized within the buffer earlier than being written into the shingled areas of the tracks.

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A consumer-level drive having a 256MB cache might be going to be SMR as producers would compensate with greater buffer sizes to fight the constraints of SMR. Drives with decrease cache ranges like 64MB are normally CMR. You’ll find the cache degree of your onerous disk by looking the drive mannequin on Google. It’s going to normally be listed as Cache dimension or Buffer dimension.

Test Trim Assist

Newer fashions of SMR onerous disks have TRIM assist like that in SSDs. TRIM command helps the working system to outline knowledge blocks which can be now not wanted and will be deleted, or are marked as free for rewriting.

CMR Drives don’t want TRIM to work. Whereas not all SMR Drives use TRIM, onerous drives that do make use of TRIM are SMR drives. You should utilize an software like CrystalDiskInfo in Home windows to verify for TRIM assist.

1. Obtain and set up CrystalDiskInfo. Proceed to launch the applying.

2. Within the software window, discover the world the place options are proven.

If TRIM is listed among the many options, the onerous drive is SMR.

CrystalDiskInfo Interface on Windows

SMR vs CMR Drives

Producers have been silently changing CMR drives of their present lineup with SMR drives for a while now. This apply has been criticized by customers throughout and has generated plenty of dangerous press. Drive producers have been compelled to record their drives as SMR or CMR on their web sites. Hopefully, they’ll quickly begin mentioning it within the spec sheet and advertising and marketing supplies as nicely.

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