Seagate is ramping up production of its yet-to-be announced hard drives with a 20TB capacity, the company said in its latest earnings call. The drives use perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology with two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) heads and are set to be generally available, unlike the company's current 20TB HDDs based on heat-assisted magnetic recording technology that are only available to select customers.
20TB Is Almost Here
"We began ramping 20TB products in the September quarter, and am thrilled with the strong customer interest," said David Mosley, chief exec of Seagate.
Back in July Mosley said that the company was prepping 20TB PMR HDDs to complement existing 20TB HAMR drives shipped exclusively to operators of hyperscale cloud datacenters as well as inside the company's own Lyve storage systems. These drives have some specifics that prevent Seagate from shipping them to all customers, including the DIY market.
"[We] are now operating multiple varieties of 20 terabyte drive to meet the breadth of customer demand," said Mosley.
With 20TB HDDs, enthusiasts will get plentiful storage space in desktops and NAS systems at home. For example, a quad-drive NAS could store some 60TB of data in RAID5 mode offering both ample capacity as well as rather high performance (at least in HDD terms, but one can add a caching SSD to an appropriate NAS to get high speeds).
Dual-Actuator Adoption Is Growing
Perhaps more interestingly, but Seagate is also ramping up production of its dual-actuator Mach.2 hard drives. Initially, these HDDs were only available to select customers and the largest adopter was Microsoft, which developed a number of ways to benefit from two actuators. Seagate began to list its Exos 2X14 HDD in May, which signalled the company's readiness to offer such drives to a broader selection of clients.
"I am equally excited by customer reception for our Mach.2 dual-actuator drives, which are now shipping at large scale," said the head of Seagate. "As we were anticipating a few months ago, we are seeing greater adoption of Mach.2 drives for core and edge applications. The benefit from the read and write performance gains that we deliver with these products. We expect dual actuator drives to become more mainstream as capacities increased beyond 30TB, to support both cost and performance requirements."
Seagate's Exos 2X14 14TB HDD is basically two 7TB drives crammed into a 3.5-inch hermetically sealed helium-filled chassis. The device features a 7200 RPM spindle speed, is equipped with a 256MB multi-segmented cache, and uses a single-port SAS 12Gb/s interface. With a 524 MB/s sustained transfer rate (outer diameter), 304/384 random read/write IOPS, and a 4.16ms average latency, the Exos 2X14 is the world's fastest HDD that can challenge some SATA SSDs as far as linear read/write performance is concerned. The host system considers an Exos 2X14 as two logical drives that are independently addressable.
High Capacities Incoming
While solid-state drives and 3D NAND technologies are developing rapidly, for bulk storage hard disk drives are unchallenged in terms of cost per gigabyte, reliability, and longevity. To keep gaining capacity, HDD makers must adopt new energy-assisted magnetic recording (EAMR) technologies, such as HAMR or MAMR (microwave-assisted magnetic recording). Seagate bets on HAMR, whereas its rivals Toshiba and Western Digital use FC-MAMR (flux-controlled MAMR) and energy-assisted PMR (ePMR) for now. HAMR requires new glass media and new write heads, whereas competing technologies use disks with minimal (if any at all) changes from PMR media.
Seagate is leapfrogging its rivals with usage of new disks and believes that HAMR is the best technology both for now and for distant future since the media used today is posed to be used in the long term.
"Just to be super clear, HAMR is really the pathway to get to 30TB and beyond," said Mosley. "We are very confident about that right now."
Earlier this year Seagate said that its technologies will enable 100TB HDDs sometimes in 2030.