20TB Hard Drives are Nearly Here

New developments in hard disk drive technology will likely see hard drive capacities reach a whopping 20TB by 2020, hard drive manufacturer Western Digital have confirmed, proving that there’s still life in this old technology.

Martin Fink, the Chief Technology Officer at Western Digital, confirmed the news in a press release, while also adding that each of the drive’s nine disks will have a capacity of 2.22TB. Western Digital currently produce the world’s biggest hard drive, the WD Ultrastar, and Seagate have since launched a 14TB drive. The Ultrastar hard drive utilises shingled magnetic recording (SMR) techniques, which enable tracks on a platter to overlap, increasing platter density. The drive uses HGST’s (WD’s commercial-orientated brand) HelioSeal technology, which uses helium to pack eight platters. Filling hard drives with helium reduces turbulence, which can make it difficult for the read/write heads to follow the data tracks on the platters accurately. It also allows more platters to be packed into the same space, allowing unprecedented capacities and getting past the plateau in hard drive storage capacity.

It isn’t just Western Digital who are close to releasing a 20TB hard disk drive, either – rivals Seagate are also testing new heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. By heating the platters to temperatures of up to 450 degrees, data bits can become smaller and more densely packed. Like Western Digital, Seagate claim to be close to releasing a 20TB hard drive, and aim to do so by 2020. But who will get there first? Western Digital are taking a different route, using new microwave assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) to achieve the same end goal as Seagate’s HAMR approach.

With the advent of solid-state drives (SSDs) and cloud storage, it has long been predicted that the mechanical hard disk drive is nearing the end of its lifespan. But with advancements like HAMR and MAMR technology, allowing hard drives to reach unprecedented storage capacities, it’s clear the hard drive isn’t dying anytime soon.

Data Recovery