Skip to main content

Toshiba: 26TB HDDs Due Within a Year, 40TB HDDs in Five Years

Toshiba
(Image credit: Toshiba)

Toshiba this week outlined its aggressive hard disk drive road-map for the next five years via a Business Wire press release. The company expects to rapidly increase the capacity of its HDDs for nearline applications by adopting next-generation recording technologies as well as increasing the number of platters per drive. The company's nearest plan is to introduce a 26TB hard drive by the end of fiscal 2022, which means in 14 months from now. Meanwhile, a 40+ TB HDD is expected by 2027. 

There are two ways to increase capacity of a hard drive: to use platters with higher areal recording density and/or install more platters into an HDD. Traditionally, hard drive makers use both methods. At present, Toshiba's highest-capacity HDDs are its 18TB products featuring nine aluminum platters that use flux-control microwave-assisted magnetic recording (FC-MAMR) technology. 

Toshiba

(Image credit: Toshiba)

Toshiba's next step will be announcement of a 20TB HDD that will continue to rely on FC-MAMR disks, but will employ 10 of them to increase capacity. Development of a 20TB hard drive is a relatively straightforward move that will enable it to compete against 20TB HDDs from Seagate and Western Digital that have been shipping for several months now.  

But while Toshiba's 20TB HDD will be an important product as it will allow the company to test its 10-platter helium-filled platform, it is not exactly going to be a breakthrough product. Based on the company's newly-released public roadmap, Toshiba intends to quickly roll-out subsequent HDD models offering higher capacity.  

By the end of fiscal year 2022 that ends on March 31, 2023 (within the next 14 months), Toshiba will introduce its 10-platter 26TB HDD that will switch to microwave assisted switching MAMR (MAS-MAMR) technology enabled by platters developed by Showa Denko K.K. and heads designed by TDK. The company will maintain aggressive onward pace and intends to reveal an 11-platter 30TB drive in the following years (by the end of fiscal 2024, which ends on March 31, 2025). 

But starting from 30TB ~ 35TB, Toshiba considers moving to heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology that is expected to enable long term evolution for HDDs. Toshiba says that HAMR will allow it to offer a hard drive with an over 40TB capacity after fiscal 2027, or roughly five years from now. 

It is important to point out that MAS-MAMR will require Toshiba to transit to all-new platters with brand-new magnetic layers as well as new read and write heads. HAMR will require Toshiba to transit to a yet another set of key components again, which will require collaborative work with its partners. Since multiple major technology transitions naturally pose risks, Toshiba does not plan to drop MAS-MAMR for quite some time after it starts using HAMR in the middle of the decade.

"Toshiba continues to work closely with the cloud companies to understand their exact capacity and performance requirements, and the ability to utilize our next-generation technologies will be key to meeting our customers’ needs," said Raghu Gururangan, Toshiba America Electronic Components, Inc. Vice President, Engineering & Product Marketing. "Many years of close collaboration work with our key component suppliers is leading to impactful technology breakthroughs to achieve higher capacities, which ultimately reduces TCO (total cost of ownership) of our nearline HDDs." 

One thing that is worth noting is that Toshiba positions its high-capacity HDDs based on leading-edge magnetic recording technology primarily for nearline applications. That said, it really remains to be seen whether technologies like MAS-MAMR and/or HAMR will be used for consumer-grade HDDs and if so when.

Anton Shilov
Anton Shilov

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • drtweak
    Sounds more and more like we need to go backwards and go back to 5.25 inch drives XD hahaha
    Reply
  • Geef
    I think it will make me cry if I format a drive like that and lose over a TB of space just to the format. 😢
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Geef said:
    I think it will make me cry if I format a drive like that and lose over a TB of space just to the format. 😢
    You're not "losing" any space.
    Its just a difference in units.

    If you go buy a car, and the salesman says "It will do a little over 200!"
    But when you try it out at the track, you can only get it to 125.....

    "He LIED!"

    No, he was speaking kph, you're looking at mph.

    Drive size is the same thing.
    Base 10 vs Base 2.
    ALL drives are like this.
    A "1TB" drive is only 931GB.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    drtweak said:
    Sounds more and more like we need to go backwards and go back to 5.25 inch drives XD hahaha

    To me it's not that bad of an idea, especially in enterprise environments. From what I remember the smaller platters had to do with vibration resistance, something critical when you're spinning at 5400 or even 7200rpm, but considering a 5.25" platter has 2.25x the surface area of a 3.5" platter, you'd think there would be more attempts at making them, especially as capacity becomes an issue and manufacturing techniques become more advanced.
    Reply
  • paul.nicolezim
    By the time 40TB HDD come around in roughly 5 years (ive made the same prediction) SSDs will be at roughly 4TB for $100. 8TB to $185, 16TB for $359 and 32TB in the near future for around $600.
    They will be much faster, much more reliable (in enterprise redundant environments, much more compact much more energy efficient. Just like now. The difference is the PRICE will also start to be very close onto of everything else compared to HDD tech and wil lonly fall below it as time goes on. This tech has 7 years of life left in it at the rate flash tech is going. Sorry Toshiba.

    HDD will not get past 40TB before nearly everyone has a better flash option and they just dont buy HDD anymore. 5-8 years after that most HDD already in systems will start failing and most people wil lhave fully replaced all their infrastructure. They just arnt worth it and toshiba is just hoping their fabs will be able to be sued for this outdated <Mod Edit> that long.
    Reply
  • JWNoctis
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    To me it's not that bad of an idea, especially in enterprise environments. From what I remember the smaller platters had to do with vibration resistance, something critical when you're spinning at 5400 or even 7200rpm, but considering a 5.25" platter has 2.25x the surface area of a 3.5" platter, you'd think there would be more attempts at making them, especially as capacity becomes an issue and manufacturing techniques become more advanced.
    It did not work out for Quantum Bigfoot 25 years ago, and that's when 5.25in peripherals were still otherwise common.

    Remember how gasoline ICE are supposed to get peak efficiency of much more than 40%, or how close viable nuclear fusion power have been for the last 40 years? Sure hope this won't be anything like that - But even 40TB is only twice of 20TB.
    Reply