Toshiba this week announced the industry's first 18TB hard drives featuring flux-control microwave-assisted magnetic recording (FC-MAMR) technology, that are designed for desktops and inexpensive NAS. The X300 and N300 drives not only offer a very high capacity and enhanced performance, but they also promise enhanced reliability.
Toshiba's X300 18TB HDDs for high-end desktops, as well as N300 18TB HDDs for NAS with up to eight drives, use the same platform as the company's MG09-series HDDs for enterprise and nearline applications. This is the company's third-generation 7200 RPM-class helium-sealed platform, sporting nine aluminum platters as well as a microwave-emitting component near the write heads that changes the magnetic coercivity of the media before recording data. The platters are made by Showa Denko K.K. (SDK) and feature a 2TB capacity, as well as approximately 1.5 Tb/inch2 areal density that was enabled by Toshiba's FC-MAMR technology.
Toshiba has not formally disclosed performance numbers for its 18TB HDDs for desktops and NAS, but since they have the same spindle speed and the same areal density as the MG09-series devices, expect them to offer similarly high — 281 MB/s — maximum sustained data transfer rate.
In a bid to better address desktops, Toshiba's X300 18TB hard drives feature a new stabilization mechanism to guarantee 'improved operational reliability (though Toshiba is not talking about RV sensors or top-and-bottom attached spindle here) as well as a new caching technology with optimized allocation to increase performance. Keep in mind that high-capacity HDDs have a rather low random read/write performance per TB (IOPS-per-TB) and have to perform background operations. Optimizing caching and prioritizing workloads is a way to make such drives more responsive. For some reason though, these drives are only covered with a two-year warranty.
The interesting part about Toshiba's X300 18TB HDDs is that they are the world's only hard drives for desktops that use energy-assisted magnetic recording technology. Seagate currently does not use energy-assisted recording on any of its 18TB drives, whereas Western Digital formally does not position its WD Gold 18TB and Ultrastar 18TB products (which use ePMR) for desktops. Obviously, many workstations still use enterprise-grade 18TB HDDs for bulk storage, yet these drives are not optimized for desktop workloads, and are pretty loud.
As noted above, Toshiba's N300 18TB HDDs are designed for NAS with up to eight hard drives. To ensure consistent performance in vibrating environments, these HDDs are equipped with integrated RV sensors to compensate for the effects of rotational vibrations, as well as appropriate firmware. The HDDs are rated for an up to 180TB/year workload and are backed with a three-year warranty.
Toshiba did not announce MSRPs for its 18TB X300 or N300 drives, but said that they would be available sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.