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Seagate reiterates plans to release 10TB HDDs this year

Seagate Technology confirmed this week that it plans to introduce several new products based on its latest technologies later this year. Among the new hard drives set to be launched are the highly-anticipated HDDs with 10TB capacity for archive applications as well as several other new products.

“As we continue to refresh all our product lines this year – we had some great new announcements last week, one of which is [2TB 2.5”/7mm drive with two platters] – with 8TB and 10TB nearline drives, we feel we are best-positioned to capture all of those [business] opportunities coming at us,” said Dave Morton, senior vice president of finance at Seagate, at Citigroup’s global technology conference.

Last year Seagate already unveiled plans to release 10TB 3.5” HDDs for nearline applications. The drives are expected to be powered by six 1.66TB platters with 1.1Tbpsi [Terra-bit per square inch] areal density and will likely belong to the Seagate Archive family of hard disk drives. Since hard drives based on SMR platters write data slower than HDDs featuring perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology, their usage models should take this into account.

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At present Seagate offers Archive HDDs with 8TB capacity based on six 1.33TB SMR platters. In addition, recently the company introduced Enterprise Capacity, Enterprise NAS and Kinetic hard drives with 8TB capacity, but tailored for different market segments.

HGST, a division of Western Digital Corp., already offers Ultrastar Archive Ha10 hard drive with 10TB capacity. The drive is powered by seven 1.43TB (~0.95Tbpsi areal density) SMR platters and is filled with helium in order to enable higher density of platters. The HDD is available to select customers only.

Helium-filled hard disk drives require completely different process technology to manufacture and thus are more expensive than traditional HDDs. Seagate believes that sealed hard drives will not become cost-effective in the short-term or mid-term future. In the longer term technologies like two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR), heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), bit-patterned media (BPM) and any combinations of them will help to considerably increase capacities of hard disk drives, which is why sealed HDD technology will cease to be important.

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Earlier this month Seagate introduced its first 2.5”/7mm 2TB hard disk drive with two 1TB platters based on the shingled magnetic recording technology and featuring unprecedented ~1.32Tbpsi areal density. Eventually, the same technology with similar areal density will be applied to other platters, including 2TB platters for 3.5” hard drives, which will enable Seagate to build 12TB HDDs sometimes next year or later.

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KitGuru Says: While the Seagate Archive hard drives are designed for MAID (massive array of idle drives) systems used as nearline storage, such HDDs eventually turn up in retail. Moreover, they are not extremely expensive, unlike enterprise-class HDDs in general. If Seagate formally introduces its 10TB HDDs in October, then expect such drives to make it to stores by the end of 2015 or in early 2016. By contrast, the Ultrastar Archive Ha10 is not available in the open market.

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