Continuing the march of progress in the HDD industry, Seagate has revealed that they have started shipping their 16 TB PMR hard drives. In a quarterly earnings call last week, the company reported that the drives have been shipping since late March, with current shipments coming ahead of high volume production of the drives. Seagate in turn expects to kick off mass production in the second half of 2019, and by Q2 2020 the new 16 TB drives will be its highest revenue SKU. What is particularly noteworthy here, besides the capacity of course, is that these drives do not use next-generation heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. Instead, they’re based around conventional magentic recoding (which is a new way to call perpendicular magnetic recording, PMR), which is being boosted by two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR).
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For a number of years Seagate has implied that HAMR will be first used for 16 TB drives, so the unexpected shift to CMR + TDMR raises several question about the the state of the market and the technology. Is the delay client-driven, with the company’s clients wanting to stick to proven technologies for another round? Or, since HAMR HDDs use different components (new media, new heads, etc.), do the manufacturing costs of HAMR hard drives present a hurdle to manufacturing and/or client adoption? Or is the change in plans due to something else entirely?
It’s interesting to see how quickly the per/gigabyte price for SSDs continues to fall as companies begin introducing bigger and cheaper models.
Back in February 2018, I bought a couple 2TB SSDs for some new laptops for about $500/each. Today, ten months later, those SSDs can be had on Amazon for $290, a 42 percent price drop in less than a year.
Meanwhile, Samsung recently announced consumer level QLC SSDs in 1TB/2TB/4TB capacities that will initially retail for $149.99, $299.99, and $599.99 respectively.
Aside from the relatively low prices, one of the interesting things about the QLC drives is their write endurance,
The 860 QVO, from the box, is given a write endurace rating equivalent to 0.3 Drive Writes Per Day (DWPD), which even for the 1TB means 300GB a day, every day, which goes above and beyond most consumer workloads.
Better drives, larger capacities and cheaper storage prices. What’s not to love?
Interesting YouTube videos showing how hard drives are made at a Western Digital and Seagate factory, respectively.
AnandTech.com has an interesting look at Western Digital’s recent announcement that it will be moving forward with production of mechanical hard drives using microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR).
Essentially what MAMR does is add a device to the write head of the hard drive to generate microwaves. The microwaves make it easier to write to smaller areas of the hard drive, allowing for capacity increases on the platter.
In its press release hype over the technology, Western Digital claims that MAMR will allow it to increase hard drive sizes to eventually reach a 40TB 3.5″ hard drive by 2025.
With the demise of TrueCrypt and the abandonment of DiskCryptor, VeraCrypt is the best remaining free, open source disk encryption solution. It is a fork of TrueCrypt project that made a number of changes designed to address limitations of TrueCrypt.
I’ve been gradually migrating all of my encrypted hard drives over to VeraCrypt and have been very pleased with its performance and ease-of-use.
Back in June, I blogged about the Pro Storage 18, a foam hard drive storage system that was designed to be stored in a standard file box or a file drawer.
Getting one of these proved more difficult than I thought–the first seller I ordered one from on Amazon basically lied about having these in stock. Then, by chance, I was looking at Amazon a few weeks ago and Amazon itself was selling them. This was apparently a fluke, because now I notice the product is being listed as being available only from third party sellers at a 35%+ markup. It’s weird how hard this thing is to find.
Anyway, here’s a picture of the foam storage unit in my office drawer at work where it currently holds 16 hard drives. A few of these are older 2tb hard drives, so that’s roughly 50tb of hard drives there, nicely protected by foam.
Overall, I was extremely impressed by the quality and the usefulness of the Pro Storage 18. Obviously this is an extremely niche product, but if you have a lot of hard drives that need to be stored safely nearby for quick use, this is pretty much the way to go IMO.