Larger-than-30TB hard drives are coming much sooner than expected
Inside of hard disk drives are platters which hold all your data; these are all manufactured by one company in Japan called Showa Denko which has announced (opens in new tab) it expects to “realize near-line HDD having storage capacity of more than 30TB” by the end of 2023.
Deciphering that statement, we’d assume it will provide platters with a storage capacity of more than 3TB, sometime in 2023, to partners such as Toshiba, Seagate and Western Digital, who will then produce the hard disk drives, targeting hyperscalers and data centers operators.
We’d expect some of them to end up in NAS and 3.5-inch external hard drives, but that won’t be the main target markets, as performance is likely to be optimized for nearline usage.
Race to 30TB
Showa Denko has now started shipment of the platters that will go into new 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 UltraSMR hard disk drives announced by Western Digital only a few days ago.
A 2.6TB platter – which uses energy-assisted magnetic recording and shingled magnetic recording – also marks an important milestone as it hits the symbolic 1TB/in^2 density.
Showa Denko’s announcement comes as a surprise as Toshiba recently suggested 30TB drives (rather than higher capacities) would not come until 2024. A 30TB model would comprise of 11 platters with 2.73TB capacities each, a slight improvement on the 2.6TB capacity that are on the way.
Given the fact that 26TB HDDs have now been announced in the first half of 2022, there’s a remote chance that we could see 30TB drives before the end of the year or (as the saying goes), depending on market conditions.
20TB drives were the storage industry’s previous “big target” with plans to launch hard disk drives of this capacity first dating from 2017. Back then, Seagate said it wanted one out by 2019; but we had to wait until the following year for a release, with mass production entering full swing in 2021.
Seagate has remained quiet about its 30TB plan since September 2021, but we know it will be based on HAMR technology, which is different from EAMR, as it uses heat to increase the amount of data being written.
The company also has ambitions to launch a 50TB HDD in 2025, so for now, watch this space.
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