Seagate is planning 50TB drives for 2026

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. Seagate 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.

HAMR Time

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.

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doomguy64just brew it!aureliusWacoClickClick5 Recent comment authors
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doomguy64
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doomguy64

Never buying Seagate again, their failure rates are too ridiculous. WD isn’t that much better, and they make ridiculous segmentation lines that are pure ripoff. Better off to buy Toshiba or anyone else that makes reliable drives and doesn’t product segment more than necessary.

aurelius
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aurelius

Who else here would love to see Seagate make another 1″ Micro Drive with this technology?

just brew it!
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just brew it!

Who needs that much storage in such a small form factor?

just brew it!
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just brew it!

I’ll believe 50TB when I see it. A lot can happen in 6 years, but I suspect the road to full adoption of HAMR is going to be a bumpy one.

Waco
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Waco

Agreed. I hope to have a few HAMR samples in the lab this year though!

ClickClick5
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ClickClick5

Is there a reason why the HDDs do not read/write faster? If you are spinning at 7200RPM, with, say 1 platter at 1TB, the rate of data flying under the head is X. Now if that single platter goes from 1TB to 4TB, the density of the data flying under the head should be much higher. But it seems we kinda capped out around 250-280MB/s.

JustAnEngineer
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JustAnEngineer

As the bits are spaced closer together along the track, yes, you get higher read speeds as the density increases. As the tracks are spaced closer together, you don’t necessarily get much change in read speed, since you’re still reading just one cylinder at a time.

Krogoth
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Krogoth

Physics. It is an engineering nightmare to reliably read and write data on a modern hard drive without killing the bloody thing. It is more of a miracle there aren’t more failures.

HDDs have been slowly improving on their STR, write and read access (they hit a wall of diminishing returns a while back). It is just they got completely outclassed by solid-state media.

ClickClick5
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ClickClick5

Just thinking about rebuilding a RAID array with 50TB drives, at 250MB/s. 58 hours if left to rebuild the array with zero other interaction…

just brew it!
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just brew it!

These days most of the increases in platter density come from tighter track spacing. This lets you cram more data onto the platter but does not increase the STR.

I suspect that part of the reason for this is that the raw bit rate is bumping up against the limits of what can be easily handled with silicon electronics. Going much higher would likely require exotic materials like GaAs.

crabjokeman
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crabjokeman

Don’t forget the perpendicular technology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIzS8XV3Ol4

Jeff
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Jeff

I wish these larger drives would start knocking down the price of the lower end drives. The 4TB drives I bought in 2015 are still within $10 of what they were then.

Krogoth
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Krogoth

Methinks, HAMR/HAMR are going to be enterprise-only. They are going to be more expensive and delicate then PMR units. Only worth it for data density rather than cost-effectiveness.

Spinners are going the way of tape and optical media. Solid-state will take over the customer-space.

just brew it!
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just brew it!

By the time HAMR is widely adopted, mechanical HDDs will effectively be enterprise-only, except for external backup applications. We’re already most of the way there.

Krogoth
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Krogoth

The term “CMR” needs to die in a fire. It is perpendicular magnetic recording or longitudinal magnetic recording (Legacy).

Waco
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Waco

CMR encompasses all writing technologies that are not shingled. It’s better to use it as an all-encompassing term since PMR doesn’t accurately represent the TDMR methods used today…

Krogoth
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Krogoth

It is a lazy marketing term that intentionally obfuscates.

Waco
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Waco

…if you say so. It’s pretty clear that it indicates non-SMR disks (and that’s its only purpose). I’m not sure why you think it’s lazy.

just brew it!
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just brew it!

It is a useful shorthand that immediately tells you that a drive won’t take a multiple-orders-of-magnitude IOPS hit (relative to non-SMR drives) when dealing with a sustained random write workload.

takeshi7
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takeshi7

CMR is a lot better than calling non-SMR drives PMR. SMR drives are PMR, too!

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