HDD makers are speeding up development of higher capacity drives

nanoguy

Posts: 585   +8
Staff member
Why it matters: The storage wars are raging on, and SSDs have the upper hand thanks to their blazing fast speeds and ever decreasing prices. HDDs maintain their superiority in terms of price per gigabyte, and they're about to get even better thanks to manufacturers' efforts on moving to ten-platter designs.

Despite SSDs getting surprisingly affordable, even when it comes to bleeding edge PCIe 4.0 variants, 'spinning rust' is still the capacity king and has plenty of room to evolve. And while they won't be able to catch up in speed with something like a Samsung 980 Pro that can hit 7,000 megabytes per second, manufacturers are getting more creative with squeezing more bits in the same volume.

In the last few years, HDD manufacturers have adopted new heat-assisted magnetic recording and shingled magnetic recording technologies, to the point of getting into legal trouble for pushing them onto prosumers looking for better speed and resilience as opposed to the highest capacity when building their network attached storage systems.

Another way to increase storage density is to increase the number of platters in every drive. Ever since Toshiba went to nine platters per drive, this became a standard across the industry for flagship HDDs. According to a report from StorageNewsletter, manufacturers are getting ready to make the jump to ten-platter designs.

This is also confirmed by market analysts at Trendfocus, who recently said HDD manufacturers have requested new magnetic substrate samples less than 0.5 mm in thickness. Manufacturers like Seagate are planning limited production runs of 20TB hard drives later this year that have glass platters instead of aluminum.

Eventually, HDD makers could cram up to 12 platters on a single drive. Trendfocus says we should expect 24 TB HDDs to be commercially available by 2022, but those will most likely only use ten platters. In the meantime, companies like Western Digital and Seagate are exploring Energy-Assisted Magnetic Recording (EAMR) and Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) to increase storage per platter, but yield issues are keeping supplies low.

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Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,453   +2,348
So we're at 16TB now (and have been for months), but we're only going to see 24TB in 2 years?

Not sure I see that as "exciting"....
 
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Endymio

Posts: 626   +514
Wouldn't those resources be better used building better SSD drives?

I understand long-term storage for big HDD drives, but SSD is just so much better.
That's like saying since sram is so much faster than dram, why waste resources developing DDR4 and DDR5 when we could simply put massive sram caches in all our computers? Try pricing a 2 petabyte disk array with SSD, and you'll quickly see why manufacturers -- and consumers -- haven't abandoned these drives yet.
 

Mister_K

Posts: 1,973   +630
Wouldn't those resources be better used building better SSD drives?

I understand long-term storage for big HDD drives, but SSD is just so much better.
NAS systems are still primarily HDDs. Your average consumer, gamer and tech enthusiast needs a simple setup where NVME/SSDs are sufficient for their needs.

I am more interested in the endurance of these high capacity drives.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 3,453   +2,348
HDD will be dead in another 5 years, almost every single one is opting for ssd.
Wrong... maybe read the previous comments.... enterprise, NAS and any large storage options are still almost exclusively on HDD as there simply are no SSD options that come larger than 8tb unless you’re willing to mortgage your home... and even 8tb isn’t exactly cost effective.

I run a NAS at home with 6 x 16tb HDDs.... to get the equivalent in SSD would cost me thousands!!
 
That's like saying since sram is so much faster than dram, why waste resources developing DDR4 and DDR5 when we could simply put massive sram caches in all our computers? Try pricing a 2 petabyte disk array with SSD, and you'll quickly see why manufacturers -- and consumers -- haven't abandoned these drives yet.
Fully agree. SSDs are not always better. Our experience (with roughly 70 computers) is that we've had more issues with SSDs than HDDs. SSDs might be getting better and I use one in one of my laptops but my main driver is an SSHD from Seagate which works reliably and is only slightly slower than an SSD. I tested using a 25GB database restore on an SSD (TLC), HDD (HGST at 7200) and an SSHD (Seagate). HDD's are not dead yet by a long shot. Both the SSD and HDD are about 15% slower than the SSD but given the price difference (HDD's still cost about half) and the long term reliability there is still a case for spinning rust.
 
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Lounds

Posts: 583   +467
I never understood why SSD manufacturers haven't made 3.5" SSD's. I'd love a massive Data SSD running QLC. You could easily get 16TB drives. The hard drive manufacturers are really getting to the point of how far they can push the tech. 0.5mm platters don't sound very solid or reliable.