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Western Digital Ships 22TB HDDs for Mass Market

Western Digital
(Image credit: Western Digital)

When Western Digital introduced its 22TB hard drives earlier this year, the company only offered them in its Ultrastar lineup. This drive family is designed primarily for server makers and is not widely available in the channel or retail. However, this week Western Digital began (opens in new tab) to ship 22TB WD Gold, WD Red Pro, and WD Purple Pro HDDs that will be available to a considerably wider audience. 

Western Digital's 22TB HDDs share the same 10-platter 3.5-inch helium-filled platform that relies on energy-assisted perpendicular magnetic recording (ePMR) technology and triple-stage actuators (TSA) to deal with a very high track density. The drives are enhanced with OptiNAND technology to improve real-world performance by moving repeatable runout (RRO) metadata from magnetic media to NAND flash memory and improving reliability. The hard drives feature a 7,200-RPM spindle speed and a 512MB cache. 

Since Western Digital's 22TB WD Gold HDDs (opens in new tab) feature the highest areal density to date, it isn't surprising that they also offer a maximum sustained transfer rate of 291 MB/s, the highest we've ever seen on a hard drive. As for power consumption, these drives consume 5.7W (in line with lower-capacity drives) in idle mode and 9.3W in operational mode (significantly higher than lower-capacity drives). Meanwhile, the 22TB WD Red Pro (opens in new tab) and WD Purple Pro (opens in new tab) are rated for a 265 MB/s sustained transfer rate and 6.8W/3.4W and 6.9W/5.6W operational/idle power consumption, respectively. 

Since all Western Digital's 22TB hard drives are designed for multi-drive environments, they feature enterprise-grade features to boost their reliability and ensure predictable performance, including a top and bottom attached motor, RV sensors, and other means to reduce turbulence. But although various 22TB HDDs from Western Digital have a lot in common, they are aimed at different applications and therefore have some differences on the hardware level and completely different firmware optimizations.  

Western Digital traditionally positions its WD Gold for servers and workstations, so the full focus of these drives is on their reliability and predictable performance. By contrast, the company's WD Red Pro is designed for enterprise-grade NAS with up to 24 bays and therefore is optimized for multi-user 24x7 environments and high-intensity workloads. Interestingly, WD Red Pro is the only 22TB HDD rated for a 300TB annual workload, as other members of the 22TB club are rated for a 550TB annual workload. Finally, Western Digital's WD Purple Pro HDDs are developed for video surveillance, smart video recorders, and similar applications, which is why they can handle up to 64 single-stream HD cameras and support AllFrame AI technology which supports 32 AI streams for deep-learning analytics. 

Western Digital's WD Gold/WD Red Pro/WD Purple Pro 22TB hard drives are now available at an MSRP of $599. In addition, all the HDDs are covered with a five-year warranty and are rated for a mean time between failure (MTBF) of 2.5 million hours.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

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.

  • brandonjclark
    For those interested, over a SATA 3 port this would take nearly a day to copy off 22TB.
    Reply
  • Kamen Rider Blade
    This is why "Multi-Actuator" technology with Internal RAID-0 across the seperate platters needs to become standard to keep up with the R/W speeds to make copying 22 TB reasonable.

    Lose 1 platter, but add one more actuator Stack and you could go from 291 MB/s -> 582 MB/s.
    9 Platter, 10 Actuator Arms -> 2x Actuator Stacks of 5-Arms a piece.

    That comes awfully close to maxing out SATA 3.0 - 600 MB/s bandwidth cap.

    Maybe they should give us SATA 4.0 - 1200 MB/s bandwidth cap and let us have more actuators.

    Imagine what 3x & 4x stacks of Actuators could do.

    That much more R/W throughput.

    With a little bit more R&D:

    Eventually getting it down to each arm being it's own Stack where every Actuator Arm is fully independent!
    Imagine a world where 10 Platters, 11 Actuators, all fully independent & R/W in RAID 0.
    11*291 MB/s = 3201 MB/s.
    SAS-4 = 2.8125 GB/s, that's not enough.
    SAS-5 = 5.625 GB/s, that's enough bandwidth.

    The eventual technological road you can go down with using Multi-Actuator technology easily allows you to make R/W of 1 TB reasonable when you can easily pump up R/W speeds into the GB range.
    Reply
  • BX4096
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    Lose 1 platter, but add one more actuator Stack and you could go from 291 MB/s -> 582 MB/s. ... Imagine a world where 10 Platters, 11 Actuators, all fully independent & R/W in RAID 0...
    While it sounds like an awesome no-brainer to a layman, I would assume that there are good reasons (aside from the added cost, of course) why it hasn't been implemented yet. If anyone know what they are, I'd like to hear more about it.

    Frankly, I got surprised when I learned of SATA's undignified demise. I still use plenty of high-capacity HDDs on my machines, and I doubt I'll see a reason to abandon them altogether in my lifetime. If they could upgrade this "dying" technology this way, I'd be ecstatic.
    Reply
  • Geef
    The reason: Cost of failure.
    Adding an extra actuator stack means that many more pieces that could fail. Adding a single platter instead lowers the number of total pieces and chance of failure.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    brandonjclark said:
    For those interested, over a SATA 3 port this would take nearly a day to copy off 22TB.
    That is when you fail over to your backup, and let the "recovery" from this 22TB drive take its own sweet time.
    Reply
  • Grobe
    Geef said:
    The reason: Cost of failure.
    Adding an extra actuator stack means that many more pieces that could fail. Adding a single platter instead lowers the number of total pieces and chance of failure.
    I also wonder if failure of one R/W head, then all content of the hdd are lost with that kind of setup.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Grobe said:
    I also wonder if failure of one R/W head, then all content of the hdd are lost with that kind of setup.
    1 head, multiple heads...this is what backups are for.

    If you can't manage backups, you don't need a 22TB drive.
    Reply
  • Grobe
    USAFRet said:
    If you can't manage backups, you don't need a 22TB drive.
    Of course - cannot be said enough, but another discussion in my view.

    I should have put my words different: What I'm curious about is if many platters like this affects the expected lifetime of the product, and if different methods of internal distributing of data on the platters also affect MTBF.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Grobe said:
    I also wonder if failure of one R/W head, then all content of the hdd are lost with that kind of setup.
    The only currently sold multi actuator hard drive, Seagate's MACH.2, requires both actuators to be working properly for the drive to operate.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    Kamen Rider Blade said:
    Lose 1 platter, but add one more actuator Stack and you could go from 291 MB/s -> 582 MB/s.
    9 Platter, 10 Actuator Arms -> 2x Actuator Stacks of 5-Arms a piece.
    Would assume that you would lose a platter for every additional actuator. So in a standard 3.5 HD case, you'd only get 5 platters with their own actuator, losing over half the potential capacity in the process. That would result in an insanely expensive per GB mechanical hard drive not to mention the ridiculous complexity of such a drive and trying to tune the firmware. SSD's would be more cost effective at that point.
    Reply