Seagate announced it achieved a new milestone in HDD density that will enable 2 TB mobile HDDs. Seagate's new svelte spinner comes in the 2.5" form factor with a 7 mm Z-height, which enables higher capacity points in the latest mobile devices, such as laptops.
The new Seagate drives feature 1 TB per platter, which eclipses Toshiba's previous record of 1 Tbit/in2 (750 GB per platter). Seagate accomplished this feat by virtue of the tried-and-true PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording), which debuted back in 2005.
The hefty 2 TB capacity will help spinners continue to delay the SSD advance in laptops, where for the most part HDDs continue to thrive. It is surprising that SSDs haven't taken over the mobile space entirely as of yet, and HDDs continue to experience solid sales due to their low price point. In fact, according to Trendfocus, the SSD incursion is still predominately occurring only in commercial notebooks.
The only real success for SSD-powered laptops is coming from Apple, where their customers cannot select an economical HDD-based notebook. Over 75 percent of HDDs shipped in the first half of 2015 were destined for PC applications, which is impressive if one considers that Seagate alone punches out almost 1 million HDDs per day.
The new design will weigh in at a mere 3.17 oz, which is 25 percent lighter than previous-generation Seagate mobile HDDs. The smaller design frees up more space for other components inside the laptop, and offers up to eight times the capacity of a 256 GB SSD, and at a lower cost.
The spacious new digs are important for HDD manufacturers as they continue to fend off SSD competitors, but as more NAND fabs begin to pump out 3D NAND (in particular TLC variants) the pendulum will inevitably swing in the direction of the SSD for mobile applications. Samsung is the only manufacturer producing 3D NAND, and it is enjoying hefty margins while the other fabs are gearing up. When other 3D NAND alternatives hit the market, we expect the price of NAND to drop precipitously.
The majority of an HDD's BOM (Bill Of Materials) consists of the motor, housing, platters and heads. This confines HDDs to a fixed entry-level price of roughly $40 -- these parts are required no matter how small the HDD is.
Conversely, SSDs can shrink in capacity to become more cost-effective. In addition, a single 3D TLC NAND die from the forthcoming IMFT NAND will offer 48 GB of storage, and an eight-die stack will provide 384 GB in one small package. This incredible density will likely end the drive form factor as we know it for mobile applications over the next few years.
Seagate's answer? The SSHD, which infuses a NAND chip onto a standard HDD, which offers the performance of an SSD with the capacity of an HDD. Seagate is also considering an SSHD variant of its latest 2 TB HDD, which is a wise move, considering the 3D TLC NAND storm clouds on the horizon.
There is no mention of availability of Seagate's new HDDs.