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What’s Next: Record Capacity of 26TB on HDD by WD

2.6TB per platter on 10 disks

Western Digital Corp. is sampling its 22TB (1) and 26TB UltraSMR HDDs to select hyperscale cloud customers, delivering customer value by driving TCO lower.

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Leveraging its OptiNAND technology, energy-assisted PMR (ePMR), triple-stage actuator (TSA), HelioSeal and now UltraSMR technologies, the firm is on a clear path to delivering 30TB+ with ePMR.

As a longstanding partner of the industry’s leading cloud providers, we understand their unique requirements in building next-generation cloud infrastructure and invested in several HDD innovations we developed alongside our areal density technology,” said Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, EVP and GM, HDD business unit. “Our intent with taking this development strategy was not only to address the capacity demands of the world’s largest cloud titans but to deliver on a roadmap that would also support the evolving economics of their data centers for decades to come. With ePMR, OptiNAND and now UltraSMR as the foundation of Western Digital’s HDD roadmap, our cloud customers can continue rapidly scaling their business by taking advantage of our innovations to lower their storage TCO.”

Wdc 10 Disk Internal

OptiNAND, UltraSMR and ePMR Drive Cloud TCO Lower
The ePMR drives leverage the company’s OptiNAND technology to unlock unprecedented levels of capacity, performance and data resiliency. The 22TB CMR HDD incorporates OptiNAND to deliver areal-density on a 2.2TB/platter HelioSeal platform with ten disks.

Combining OptiNAND with proprietary firmware that leverages HDD system-level hardware advancements, UltraSMR technology introduces large block encoding along with an error correction algorithm that increases tracks-per-inch to enable higher capacity. The result is company’s 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 UltraSMR HDD that delivers 2.6TB per platter, offering 18% more capacity for cloud customers optimizing their stacks to take advantage of the benefits of SMR. With cloud service providers increasingly adding SMR to their datacenter roadmaps, the 26TB capacity serves as a tipping point to accelerate adoption.

Uniquely capable with OptiNAND, the HDDs also include the ArmorCache write cache data safety feature, which gives customers the performance of write cache enable (WCE) combined with the data protection of write cache disable (WCD) for added data protection or resiliency in case of an emergency power off (EPO). For the first time in HDD history, this Write Cache Data Safety feature gives users both performance and data protection, no matter which mode is selected. OptiNAND gives the drives a performance increase also in WCD mode, which is greatest in random writes with larger block transfers. At common HDD application transfer lengths of 256KB or greater, IO/s and throughput improve by more than 40% relative to a non-OptiNAND drives, with a peak improvement of over 80% at 1MB transfer length. See the tech brief here for more details.

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22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR HDD availability:

  • 22TB Ultrastar DC HC570 HDD and the 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 UltraSMR HDD are sampling to select hyperscale customers. The DC HC570 HDD will begin volume shipments to the channel, and the UltraSMR HDD will begin shipping to select customers in the summer of 2022.

Ultrastar Data60

Wdc Ultrastar Data60 Hybrid Storage Platform Right 2 Western Digital

  • Ultrastar Data60 and Data102 JBODs will feature the 22TB CMR Ultrastar HDDs this summer, delivering the highest storage density in a fully optimized platform for added durability and data reliability for SDS.

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  • Extending OptiNAND innovations across its HDD portfolio, the company will deliver 22TB WD Purple Pro HDDs for smart video/surveillance, WD Red Pro HDDs for NAS solutions, and WD Gold HDDs for system integrators and resellers serving enterprises and SMBs. These drives will be available this summer.

(1) 1TB is equal to one trillion bytes and 1PB is equal to one thousand terabytes. Actual user capacity may vary depending on operating environment.

Blog: What’s Next: Western Digital Unveils Its Mission to Unlock the Potential of Data


The first 3.5-inch form factor HDD (at 10MB), was introduced by Rodime, a Scottish company, in 1983. This form factor was already introduced for 3.5-inch floppy disk drives.

Here the 2 new 7,200rpm nearline HDDs announced by WD are the first 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR drives, this later with an historical record capacity for any HDD and up 18% from the previous gen, and also beating now Seagate and Toshiba that will probably follow WD soon.

Former record was 20TB by WD in September 2019 and 22TB by Seagate in January 2022.

Remember that, at a time, the capacity of HDDs was increasing 50% per year. We are now far from that.

The news helium-filled units are using this time 10 - and not 9 - disk platters at 2.6TB per platter for the 26TB UltraSMR, as well as OptiNAND technology, energy-assisted PM and triple-stage actuator technologies.

The 22TB DC HC570 is supposed to be in volume shipments to the channel this summer. The UltraSMR starts to ship to select customers.

These high-capacity nearline devices are currently the most successful ones in the HDD market. Some SSDs reached much more capacity, up to 100TB from Nimble Storage (15.36TB for WD), but at an excessive price.

"Western Digital is confident that it can soon produce hard drives at a 30TB+ capacity level without needing to introduce entirely new technologies like HAMR, while HAMR is still on the horizon," Gorakhpurwalla commented.