Seagate scoffs at helium, ships world's first 8TB hard drive

Seagate today announced the general availability of its highest capacity 3.5-in hard drive.

Seagate today announced it's shipping to enterprise customers the world's first 8TB hard disk drive, raising the bar against rivals such as Western Digital, which uses helium to boost its own drive capacity.

Seagate's new 8TB drive comes in a 3.5-in form factor and is aimed at allowing corporate data centers to create more dense storage arrays for cloud content, object-based storage and data backups.

"Public and private data centers are grappling with efficiently storing massive amounts of unstructured digital content," John Rydning, IDC's research vice president for hard disk drives, said in a statement. "Seagate's new 8TB HDD provides IT managers with a new option for improving storage density in the data center, thus helping them to tackle one of the largest and fastest growing data categories within enterprise storage economically."

Just four months ago, Seagate released its first 6TB, enterprise-class hard disk drive, which was 28% faster than its earlier 4TB drive.

Last November, Western Digital's HGST subsidiary made a splash in the industry by announcing the first 6TB helium-filled Ultrastar He6 drive.

Using helium, WD was able to increase its drive capacity by 50%; more importantly, it reduced power usage by 23% and overall weight by 38% compared to pervious 4TB drives.

At the time WD announced its helium drive, Seagate representatives said they weren't ruling out the future use of the lighter weight gas, which reduces friction in a spinning disk.

While Seagate is not using helium in its new 8TB drive, it's also not releasing details about how it has been able to increase the areal density on the disk platters. A spokesman said that information will be "shared shortly."

Last year, Seagate began using a technology called shingled magnetic recording (SMR) to increase the capacity of its drives beyond 4TB. Seagate has said SMR holds the promise of creating 20TB drives by 2020.

With SMR technology, Seagate has been able to increase bit density on its platters by 25% or more. Unlike standard perpendicular magnetic recording, where data tracks rest side by side, SMR overlaps the tracks on a platter like shingles on a roof, thereby allowing Seagate to squeeze more tracks together on a platter.

Seagate did say its new 8TB Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD increases system capacity using fewer components at lower power costs.

The drive boasts the best watts-per-gigabyte to date for enterprise bulk data storage, Seagate said.

"Cleversafe is excited to once again partner with Seagate to deliver to our customers what is truly an innovative storage solution. Delivering absolute lowest cost/TB along with the performance and reliability required for massive scale applications, the new 8TB hard disk drive is ideal for meeting the needs of our enterprise and service provider customers who demand optimized hardware and the cost structure needed for massive scale out," said Tom Shirley, senior vice president of research and development for Cleversafe.

Outfitted with enterprise-class reliability and support for archive workloads, it features multi-drive RV tolerance for consistent enterprise-class performance in high-density environments. The drive also incorporates a proven SATA 6Gbps interface for cost-effective and easy system integration in both private and public data centers.

Seagate is shipping drives to select customers now, with wide scale availability next quarter.

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