Seagate unveiled its new 10 TB helium-powered Guardian Series range of HDDs. The series includes the 10 TB Seagate BarraCuda and Barracuda Pro HDDs for desktop PCs, the IronWolf for NAS and the SkyHawk for surveillance environments. Seagate also threw in a speedy FireCuda SSHD, but its capacity is limited to 2 TB.
All of the new offerings feature conventional PMR technology, and Seagate extended some enterprise-class features and market-leading warranty periods to several of the new consumer products.
BarraCuda and BarraCuda Pro
Seagate abandoned the BarraCuda naming convention a few years ago, but it is back with the unveiling of the BarraCuda and the BarraCuda Pro HDDs. Both products offer a 10 TB model that uses a helium design with 7 platters and 14 heads, while lower capacity models have standard air-based designs and varying head/platter counts.
The BarraCuda Pro is the more attractive of the two models, largely because it is faster than the standard BarraCuda model. The Pro comes in the 3.5" form factor at 6, 8 and 10 TB capacities, spins at 7,200-RPM and features a 5-year warranty. The 10 TB of capacity is impressive because it is the largest desktop HDD on the market (displacing the Toshiba 8 TB X300), but the five-year warranty period is even more impressive.
HDD vendors abandoned long warranty periods for consumer-class HDDs in the wake of the supply-restricting 2011 Thailand floods. The "new normal" for desktop PC HDDs is two years, which the BarraCuda Pro more than doubles. The WD Black, which tops out at 6 TB, also offers a five-year warranty. Seagate has the majority of desktop market share (at 43 percent Q1 2016), but it has been the subject of persistent accusations of poor quality. This is due, in part, to the Backblaze HDD reliability reports, so Seagate likely geared the warranty extension to address those reliability concerns in the desktop/enthusiast space. In either case, the five-year warranty could spur other vendors to reciprocate in the broader desktop HDD segment.
HDDs have workload ratings, which are an endurance meter that indicates how much use the vendor designed the drive for. The BarraCuda Pro breaks new ground with a 300 TB-per-year workload rating. Seagate also designed the Pro to withstand 24x7 use, while most companies design standard desktop models for 8x5 use-cases. From outward appearances, the 10 TB Pro model is very similar to the Seagate Enterprise Capacity 10 TB drive, albeit with the removal of a few enterprise features.
The Pro uses Seagate's Multi-Tier Caching (MTC) technology, which boosts random write performance significantly. The Pro model also features a relaxed 1 per 10^14 error rate compared to the enterprise models (standard for desktop HDDs). The Pro employs a 256 MB buffer on the 8 and 10 TB models and a 128 MB buffer on the drives with less capacity. Seagate indicates that the Pro offers up to 220 MB/s of sustained sequential transfer speed.
Seagate designed the standard BarraCuda model, which comes in 2.5" (500 GB to 2 TB) and 3.5" form factors (500 GB to 4 TB), for the regular 8x5 use-case. It features a 55 TB-per-year workload rating and does not include the performance-boosting MCT technology. The standard model slots in as the value-centric offering and comes with the standard two-year warranty and a 5,900-RPM spindle speed.
The 10 TB BarraCuda Pro debuts at $534.99, while the standard BarraCuda 2TB and 3TB models retail for $80.99 and $99.99, respectively.
The FireCuda appears to be a new spin on the old SSHD jam, and it comes in 2.5" (1TB) and 3.5" (1, 2 TB) flavors. The drive only carries 8 GB of flash, which is curious because Seagate's latest Desktop SSHDs employ up to 32 GB of flash. The drives feature an upgrade to a five-year warranty, however, which might make them a competitive entry in the entry-level performance segment. The FireCuda 1TB and 2TB models retail for $84.99 and $109.99, respectively.
IronWolf And IronWolf Pro NAS HDDs
The IronWolf NAS HDDs bring helium to the Seagate NAS platform with a wide range of capacity points that span from 1 TB to 10 TB. The IronWolf drives feature a standard three-year warranty and a 180 TB-per-year workload rating, both of which are less desirable in comparison to the BarraCuda desktop HDDs. However, the IronWolf series features AgileArray NAS-optimized firmware (for RAID applications), dual-plane balancing, advanced power management and the notable addition of RV (Rotational Vibration) sensors.
Seagate added the RV sensors on the 6, 8 and 10 TB models to help the drive sense, and thus counteract external vibrations. RV sensors increase durability and reliability in multi-drive environments. HDD vendors typically restrict RV sensors to enterprise-class HDDs, so the addition is a significant improvement for smaller consumer-oriented NAS. No other NAS drive for 1 to 8 bay devices offers RV sensors.
The IronWolf HDDs are good for up to 8-bay deployments and feature an industry-leading 256 MB cache. Seagate also offers its Seagate Rescue as an optional "just-in-case" data recovery insurance.
The 10 TB IronWolf has a $469.99 MSRP. Seagate is launching an IronWolf Pro in the fall, but we do not have details yet.
SkyHawk Surveillance HDDs
Seagate also introduced 10 TB helium HDDs to the surveillance space. Surveillance HDDs feature optimized firmware that reduces dropped frames in multi-stream recording environments (up to 64 cameras simultaneously) and are designed to operate 24x7. The drives feature RV sensors, a 180 TB-per-year workload rating and a three-year warranty. The 10 TB SkyHawk retails for $459.99.
What It All Means
Seagate is planting its 10 TB helium flag in the ground in several segments that its competitors have not addressed with 10 TB drives. The desktop PC drives do come at a premium, but Seagate is currently the only game in town for a 10 TB desktop HDD, not to mention a 10 TB with a five-year warranty.
The five-year warranty periods are a welcome sight in the desktop segment. Only 10 percent of shipping desktop PCs come with an SSD, and that is not projected to change radically any time soon. This means that the desktop segment is still a competitive market for the HDD vendors, and we can expect others to respond in kind with 10 TB HDDs with longer warranty periods soon, which should also help reduce prices.
Seagate also has SMR HDDs shipping, which utilizes a new denser recording method to store data than its new 10 TB HDD platform. The addition of SMR technology to this same helium platform could provide 12+ TB HDDs in the very near future.
Edit: July 20, 2016, 9:15 AM: Amended article to include WD Black as another HDD with five-year warranty period.