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Seagate Spins Out Record-Breaking 2 TB Laptop HDD Density

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.

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Paul Alcorn
Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.

  • Mac266
    I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing it. Samsung has had a 2 TB 2.5" out for a while now:

    http://au.pcpartpicker.com/part/samsung-internal-hard-drive-st2000lm003
    Reply
  • e36_Jeff
    I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing it. Samsung has had a 2 TB 2.5" out for a while now:

    http://au.pcpartpicker.com/part/samsung-internal-hard-drive-st2000lm003
    I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing it. Samsung has had a 2 TB 2.5" out for a while now:

    http://au.pcpartpicker.com/part/samsung-internal-hard-drive-st2000lm003
    I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing it. Samsung has had a 2 TB 2.5" out for a while now:

    http://au.pcpartpicker.com/part/samsung-internal-hard-drive-st2000lm003

    Its the 7mm thick part thats the first. all prior 2.5" 2TB drives are 9.5mm
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    @Mac266
    this is 2 fold.
    1) Seagate is not claiming the first 2TB 2.5" drive. As you mentioned Samsung has a drive, and (while rare) we have had 2.5" 2TB SSDs for a few years now. The important bit is that this is a HDD (much cheaper than SSD), and that it is a slim drive which can be used in smaller devices like x86 tablets and ultrabooks.
    2) When was the last time that Sammy made a mainstream drive that anyone purchased? Samsung makes some great products on occasion in huge volume, but their HDD business is not exactly large. Having Seagate announce a drive means that you will actually be able to purchase them and find them in stock outside of a few specialty stores.

    This is pretty big news. Especially with SSDs dropping in price and starting to eat up the smaller drive segments. A friend of mine just purchased a 256GB SSD for $65 on sale. A $65 256GB SSD, or a $50 250GB laptop HDD... that price gap is getting awful close, and the SSD will blow the HDD out of the water for performance and durability (speaking of physical durability in a laptop... not read/write).
    Reply
  • PaulyAlcorn
    I guess I was remiss by not mentioning that the 'other' 2TB on the market utilizes three platters with 677GB each. The Seagate 7mm uses two 1TB platters - thinner, faster and more power efficient. Oh, and lighter.
    Reply
  • sna
    @Mac266
    this is 2 fold.
    1) Seagate is not claiming the first 2TB 2.5" drive. As you mentioned Samsung has a drive, and (while rare) we have had 2.5" 2TB SSDs for a few years now. The important bit is that this is a HDD (much cheaper than SSD), and that it is a slim drive which can be used in smaller devices like x86 tablets and ultrabooks.
    2) When was the last time that Sammy made a mainstream drive that anyone purchased? Samsung makes some great products on occasion in huge volume, but their HDD business is not exactly large. Having Seagate announce a drive means that you will actually be able to purchase them and find them in stock outside of a few specialty stores.

    This is pretty big news. Especially with SSDs dropping in price and starting to eat up the smaller drive segments. A friend of mine just purchased a 256GB SSD for $65 on sale. A $65 256GB SSD, or a $50 250GB laptop HDD... that price gap is getting awful close, and the SSD will blow the HDD out of the water for performance and durability (speaking of physical durability in a laptop... not read/write).

    no one pays $50 for 250GB harddisk .. this is the price of 500 to 750 GB harddisk.
    Reply
  • Mac266
    @Mac266
    this is 2 fold.
    1) Seagate is not claiming the first 2TB 2.5" drive. As you mentioned Samsung has a drive, and (while rare) we have had 2.5" 2TB SSDs for a few years now. The important bit is that this is a HDD (much cheaper than SSD), and that it is a slim drive which can be used in smaller devices like x86 tablets and ultrabooks.
    2) When was the last time that Sammy made a mainstream drive that anyone purchased? Samsung makes some great products on occasion in huge volume, but their HDD business is not exactly large. Having Seagate announce a drive means that you will actually be able to purchase them and find them in stock outside of a few specialty stores.

    This is pretty big news. Especially with SSDs dropping in price and starting to eat up the smaller drive segments. A friend of mine just purchased a 256GB SSD for $65 on sale. A $65 256GB SSD, or a $50 250GB laptop HDD... that price gap is getting awful close, and the SSD will blow the HDD out of the water for performance and durability (speaking of physical durability in a laptop... not read/write).

    Actually, I believe Seagate owns Samsungs old HDD sector now.

    16561560 said:
    I guess I was remiss by not mentioning that the 'other' 2TB on the market utilizes three platters with 677GB each. The Seagate 7mm uses two 1TB platters - thinner, faster and more power efficient. Oh, and lighter.

    Ah, of cause. Drive width completely slipped my mind.
    Reply
  • joex444
    @Mac266A $65 256GB SSD, or a $50 250GB laptop HDD... that price gap is getting awful close

    An extremely contrived example as the low capacity HDDs basically don't use any fewer parts than the ones with twice the capacity; the difference is they use one side of a platter and leave off a few read/write heads compared to the double capacity drive.

    If you want a fair comparison, 256GB SSD on sale for $65 or a 1TB HDD for $60 without a sale..While the SSD is faster, it's also only one quarter the capacity and slightly more expensive to boot.

    Given most laptops only support 1 internal drive, this makes the choice more difficult as you can choose speed xor capacity at this price point.
    Reply
  • laststop311
    So this means we can get 3TB 3 platter 9.5mm drives. That interests me more. For people that use desktop replacement laptops they accept 9.5mm z height drives. I have a customized m18x r1 laptop that I have done a lot of work on. Uses a delidded i7-3920xm with an r2 motherboard and an upgraded triple heatpipe cooler and custom all copper heatsink overclocked to 4.2Ghz. It's a mobile chip that runs faster than a stock desktop i7-3770k. With my all copper triple heatpipe heatsink and coollaboratory liquid metal tim chip stays in the 60's under load. For gpu power it uses 2x GTX 780m in SLI that also uses all copper heatsink and liquid metal tim. It has no optical drive and has space for 3x 2.5" 9.5mm height drives of which I have a 1TB samsung 850 pro and 2x 2TB samsung 9.5mm HDD. I would just love to upgrade it to 2x 3TB 9.5mm drives. I would VERY much love to do this. I hope they manufacture this very soon. I use this laptop + a 21.5" monitor and a mechanical keyboard and performance mx mouse as my portable game anywhere LAN setup. All fits into a backpack and is incredibly easy to transport and LAN game anytime anywhere.
    Reply
  • jaber2
    This reminds me when they cam up with 2.88MB floppy disks, what big news it was then until ZIP drives came out with 100MB, so, a 2TB HDD no matter what size is not news worthy same as 2.88MB floppy disks.
    Reply
  • PaulyAlcorn
    This reminds me when they cam up with 2.88MB floppy disks, what big news it was then until ZIP drives came out with 100MB, so, a 2TB HDD no matter what size is not news worthy same as 2.88MB floppy disks.

    Those were the days :)
    Reply