Toshiba's Revolutionary New 14TB Hard Drive

In recent year so-called hard drive ‘arms race’ has reached a standstill as manufacturers have struggled to increase capacity. To add to that, traditional, mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs) are being replaced by solid state drives (SSDs). But is the HDD making a comeback?

Late to the party, Toshiba have recently announced they are joining the ranks of the hard drive manufacturers and releasing a hard drive that utilises helium, and it’s significant in that they aren’t using Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), but Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR). SMR drives allow tracks to overlap like shingles, increasing storage capacity but decreasing performance. SMR was used for many years to boost hard drive capacity, but these drives’ downfall has been the adoption of solid state drive (SSD) technology. Hard disk drives are already being outclassed performance-wise by solid state drives, so any storage device that takes a step backwards isn’t going to do fare well.

Helium-filled hard drives are by no means a new concept – in response to the ever-increasing need for storage, HGST released the first one back in 2013, known as the Ultrastar He6 because of its 6TB worth of storage. Years later HGST released the Ultrastar He12, with a capacity of 12TB thanks to its eight platters. This helium-filled hard disk drive is aimed at businesses rather than consumers.

Toshiba’s new drive, which is part of the MG07ACA series, is a helium-filled drive, and the company’s first foray into this technology. But Toshiba have done what no other manufacturer have succeeded yet – produced a 14TB, helium-filled drive that uses conventional magnetic recording (CMR). This is of particular note because similar high capacity, helium-filled drive rely on shingled magnetic recording, as outlined above. The drive has nine platters that have been squeezed inside, with 18 read/write heads – which is a world first. If you compare this to WDC’s 14TB UltrStar HS helium-filled drive, which uses shingled magnetic recording, write operations are slower. This new Toshiba model doesn’t suffer from this limitation.

So what are the implications for data recovery? Well, hard drives aren’t quite on their way out yet, even with the advent of solid state drive technology, and our R&D team at Data Recovery Specialists have been hard at work researching data recovery techniques for helium-filled drives.

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