WD's Ae archival drive has ''progressive'' 6.x TB capacity

A while back, at the behest of its datacenter customers, WD developed a family of hard drives specifically for "cold" archival storage. The product line is now in its third generation, according to the company, with "over 700 petabytes deployed" in what are no doubt large-scale server farms. And soon, you might be able to get a taste yourself. The archival drive is coming to the "broader market" later this year as the WD Ae.

Somewhat surprisingly, the initial model's capacity is listed as 6.x TB. The Ae is based on an "innovative Progressive Capacity model" that allows WD to increase the capacity of shipping drives as yields improve and the company gets better at squeezing more data onto the platters. The gains will be small—capacities of 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 TB are listed as examples—but WD says the folks who need drives like these are hungry for even incremental improvements.

Apart from its funky capacity, the WD Ae is fairly conventional. It has five platters, 64MB of DRAM cache, and a 6Gbps SATA interface all wrapped up in a 3.5" form factor. The 5,760-RPM spindle speed is a little on the sluggish side, but the Ae is optimized for low power consumption rather than high performance.

Given its datacenter focus, one might expect the Ae to have a lengthy warranty. The drive is only covered for three years, though, and the "60 TB/yr workload" rating doesn't sound all that impressive. Archival drives like these probably don't see a whole lot of action out in the field.

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