In the race between solid-state and spinning rust, it’s not even a contest. SSDs are leaps and bounds faster. So what’s a hard drive to do? Go big. has announced its product roadmap for the next seven years, and the company is looking forward to 20TB drives in the near future and 50TB after that. It won’t be long before the 19TB of hard-drive space in my server looks laughable.
Seagate expects to ship an 18TB drive in the first half of 2020. This drive, according to nl.hardware, will use CMR, or conventional magnetic recording, to house all the data on the expected 9 drive platters. When the company heads toward 20TB, though, things get more interesting. The first 20TB drives will use SMR, or shingled magnetic recording, which involves writing data so that it partially overlaps. You know, like a shingle.
As Seagate heads north of 20TB, the company will switch to HAMR, or heat-assisted magnetic recording. I hope in a few years we’re talking about “hammer drives.” Heat-assisted recording involves the rapid heating, writing, and cooling of the drive plater, with the whole process taking less than a nanosecond. This process allows data to be written into a much smaller space than possible with CMR drives. Seagate is looking at 50TB drives hitting the market by 2026.
Along with this boost in capacity, Seagate is planning to launch drives with multiple actuators, allowing the drives to read data more quickly. In theory, that should bring these massive HAMR drives up to the speed of current HDDs.
Seven years is a long way out in technology, so it’ll be interesting to see how SSDs advance in that time. It seems like the gaps will get even bigger, with SSDs becoming faster and faster while storage drives get bigger.