While NVMe SSDs focus on getting faster, good old spinning hard drives are intent on getting larger. Tom’s Hardware reports that hard drive manufacturer Seagate announced on a recent earnings call that it is shipping huge, 22TB hard drives to some of its customers. The company uses shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology to squeeze a couple more terabytes out of its biggest drives.
The highest-capacity drives most people can currently buy top out at 20TB; the Seagate Ironwolf Pro or WD Gold are two such drives, and they both generally retail for over $600. In its NAS drives, Seagate uses conventional magnetic recording (CMR) technology, which provides better random read and write speeds than SMR disks but at a lower density—this is fine for archival storage, but not so much for servers where multiple users are regularly accessing and modifying data. We found this out firsthand a few years back when Western Digital covertly started using SMR technology in its WD Red drives for consumer NAS devices.
As for more dramatic capacity boosts, Seagate is continuing to work on heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) drives, which the company has been testing with some of its customers for a few years now. Seagate has certainly been guilty of overpromising and underdelivering on HAMR, which the company has been talking about on and off since 2002. But as of early 2021, Seagate said it was aiming for 30TB drives by 2023, 50TB drives in 2026, and 100TB drives by 2030.
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