WW Historical Record Capacity for HDD: 14TB, by Western Digital/HGST

With host-managed SMR and helium
This is a Press Release edited by on 2017.10.04

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Western Digital Corp. is providing cloud and hyperscale data centers the capacity required by big data applications with the world's first 14TB enterprise HDD featuring host-managed shingled magnetic recording technology (SMR).

Western Digital's HGST-branded Ultrastar Hs14 delivers 40% more capacity and more than twice the sequential write performance of its SMR predecessor, enabling more economical and efficient capture of the growing volume and variety of data.

The future is built on the insights and predictive power of big data. As data grows, storing it all in an affordable and accessible manner is an ongoing challenge for enterprise and cloud service data center operators. With a focus on TCO, the factors of capacity per rack, power consumption, cooling, maintenance, and acquisition cost are all paramount. To combat the big data challenge, Ultrastar Hs14 drives deliver capacity leadership and online watt/TB power efficiency for low TCO by harnessing two core complementary technologies - fourth generation HelioSeal technology, and second generation host-managed SMR - along with enterprise reliability. These mature technologies provide the foundation for delivering efficient, quality and reliable performance required by cloud and hyperscale environments, for ultra-dense scale-out storage systems running sequential write workloads. By utilizing SMR technology, Ultrastar Hs14 HDDs offer a 16% increase in capacity (1) while keeping highly predictable, highly reliable performance.

"Over 70% of the exabytes Western Digital ships into the capacity enterprise segment are on helium-based high-capacity drives and continue to support customers with outstanding reliability, performance and value QoS," said Mark Grace, SVP of devices, Western Digital. "The TCO and reliability benefits of our HelioSeal platform are the foundation of our leadership in high-capacity enterprise storage."

Ultrastar Hs14 14TB Enterprise Drive Features and Specifications:

  • HelioSeal Technology: Fourth-generation helium filled drive technology brings the highest capacity HDD to market sooner than competing offerings.
  • Host-managed SMR Technology: Second-generation enterprise storage deployment of host-managed SMR delivers 14TB with no compromise of performance predictability and consistency. Host-managed SMR HDDs are designed specifically for sequential write environments, and will not work as drop-in replacements for traditional capacity enterprise drives.
  • Reliability: MTBF rating at 2.5 million hours.
  • Warranty: 5-year limited
  • Availability: sampling to select OEMs

(1) Compared to 12TB drives using PMR technology

Our Comments

HDD capacity continues to increase slowly but surely. At 14TB WD is beating the worldwide record of any drive with 14TB, available with 12Gb SAS or 6Gb SATA interfaces, former record being 12TB based on helium by the same company and Seagate, respectively released in December 2016 and March 2017. Wait for Seagate to follow WD with same 14TB unit in the next future.

Few years ago HDD capacity was doubling about each year. It's not the case anymore because the technology to increase the areal density is more and more complicated. Here WD is associating host-managed SMR and helium on the Hs14 being based on the same platform as former He12 but with host-managed SMR.

Since the introduction of the first HDD, IBM RAMAC, at 3.75MB, in 1956, capacity increased at a 28% CAGR up to now. From 12TB to 14TB, growth is just 17%.

The third HDD maker, Toshiba, is just entering into 10TB capacity in same 3.5-inch form factor.

Note that the new Ultrastar Hs14 enterprise at 7,200rpm HDD can be appreciated for archiving. It is not for all applications, aimed specifically at sequential writes (because of SMR) and not replacing other enterprise devices, especially faster 12Gb SAS 2.5-inch HDD culminating at 900GB for 15,000rpm devices and 2.4TB for units rotating at 10,000rpm. Specs are also far from much faster - maximum sustained transfer rate of is 233MB/s and R/W seek time of 7.7/12ms for the Hs14 - and more expansive SSDs, the best ones even surpassing 30TB.

Is it possible to reach 18TB and then 20TB into a 3.5-inch form factor with a fifth generation of HelioSeal and a third generation of host-managed SMR? Either you increase the areal density on each disk - here a maximum of 1,034Gb per square inch - or you add one more platter into the device - now the maximum being 8 with 16 heads like in new WD unit? But in both cases, we approach a technological limit. Next technology to come is supposed to be HAMR but the manufacturers evoke it since many years and nothing is happening.

Read also:
Record Capacity for HDD: 12TB on He12 by Western Digital With PMR in 1H17, Then Coming 14TB with SMR
And NVMe PCIe SSD available in 2.5-inch and half-height, half-length form factors up to 7.68TB
2016.12.08 | Press Release