Tag: Seagate

US spooks hide in hard drives

spyIf you own hard-drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, and Toshiba all your data could have been seen by US spooks.

According to Kaspersky Lab, the US National Security Agency figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba, IBM, Micron and Samsung.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

The Russian outfit did not name the US as the country behind the software, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, which was a NSA-led effort.

A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the spy agency valued these espionage programmes as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives.

Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, a move that could help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001

The announcement could lead to a backlash against Western technology, in countries such as China, which is already drafting regulations that would require most technology suppliers to provide copies of their software code for inspection.

Kaspersky said the spies made a technological breakthrough by figuring out how to lodge malicious software in the obscure code called firmware that launches every time a computer is turned on.

Disk drive firmware is viewed by spies and cybersecurity experts as the second-most valuable real estate on a PC for a hacker, second only to the BIOS code invoked automatically as a computer boots up.

The information was news to Western Digital, Seagate and Micron who said it was the first they had heard of it. Toshiba and Samsung declined to comment and IBM just ignored hacks requests.

Seagate builds cut-price 8TB hard drive

phpgheqmoSeagate has just announced its ‘Archive HDD’ series which offers densities of 5TB, 6TB, and 8TB for a cut price. Not only is 8TB grabbing the headlines, it costs $260.

Seagate is bringing out shingled magnetic recording, which it thinks will be the next new thing.  Having had shingles we don’t think it is something we would like our hard-drive to suffer from, but at those densities and prices we are included to let the thing suffer.

SMR aligns drive tracks in a singled pattern. With this design, Seagate is able to cram much more storage into the same physical area. Seagate isn’t the first out the door with an 8TB model, however, as HGST released one earlier this year. In lieu of a design like SMR, HGST decided to go the helium route, allowing it to pack more platters into a drive.

SMR is a little more elegant, and a bit cheaper.

Like most other high-density drives, Seagate’s Archive HDD series spins at about 5400 RPM which is a little on the slow side. It means it is good for regular storage, not data like games or applications.

Still you might need a couple of these drives — 8TB is a lot of data to lose at once and you are going to need a lot of redundancy if you buy one.

 

100TB hard drives to arrive by 2025

science_fiction1940An industry consortium today released a roadmap for new recording technologies could yield 100TB hard drives in about 10 years.

Advanced Storage Technology Consortium (ASTC)’ s figures show hard-drives which are 10 times the capacity of today’s biggest hard drives. Apparently, it will be achieved using up-and-coming techniques such as laser-assisted recording technology.

The ASTC’s roadmap shows HAMR and BMPR technologies combining to grow bit areal densities and technologies such as Bit Patterned Media Recording (BPMR) and Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) will result in up to 10-terabit-per-square-inch (Tbpsi) areal densities by 2025, compared with today’s .86 Tbpsi areal densities.

Industry analyst Tom Coughlin wrote in his bog that this implies that a 3.5-inch HDD built with that technology could have about 10X the capacity of the 10TB HDDs in 2025, or 100TB.

Western Digital’s HGST division has been sealing helium gas in its enterprise drives to reduce friction created by spinning platters, thereby allowing it to pack them more tightly together. Its Ultrastar HelioSeal product line now has 8TB and 10TB hard drives.

Using Helium instead of air, HGST is able to pack more platters into a hard drive.

Seagate’s largest capacity drive using conventional recording is 6TB. The company has been using a technology called Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), which overlaps data tracks on a disk platter like shingles on a rooftop to increase that to 8TB.

However, SMR likely to continue adding areal  density and adding helium is limited.

The problem is that as disk drive densities increase, the potential for data errors also increases due to a phenomenon known as superparamagnetism. This is when there is a magnetic pull between bits on a platter’s surface can randomly flip them, thus changing their value from one to zero or zero to one.

Seagate believes it can produce a 30TB drive by 2020 using (HAMR). HAMR integrates a semiconductor laser onto a hard drive recording transducer. The lasers are able to set down smaller bits, but ones that are also harder to overwrite, which makes the media more stable by reducing overwrite errors.

Personal storage devices rose in Europe

seagate-hddMarket analysis firm IDC said that 6.3 million personal and entry level storage devices shipped in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) during the second quarter of this year.

The market includes storage hardware products made for end users, small offices and small businesses.

Companies selling these products include Toshiba, Western Digital, Seagate, Buffalo, D-Link, Netgear and Lenovo/EMC.

The market for sales in western Europe grew 3.5 percent in the quarter compared to the same quarter last year.  Western Europe also represented the largest market for units shipped, amounting to 4.7 million units.  Those revenues largely came for personal level storage.

The central eastern Europe and Middle East and Africa (CEMA) showed a drop of 13 percent year on year.  The drop was because of sanctions against Russia and the Ukrainian crisis, as well as less bandwidth capabilities and the fact not many people work remotely in the region.

The Middle East and Africa showed a drop of 17 percent year on year, caused by political turmoil and civil unrest.

Data centres face revolution

server-racksFour disruptive forces are set to change the face of the data centre by 2016.

That’s according to market research firm Gartner, which estimates that although the data centre market seems poised for growth, existing assumptions will be challenged.

Vendors like the 50 percent or more gross margins in storage and networking hardware and software but  one vendor might decide to slash its margins, so forcing a price war in the data centre industry.

Traditional data centre firms will also face disruption from cloud computing which will reduce the demand of for total amount of compute to total workload.  And Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Baidu are offering platform as a service, with the existing companies failing to offer something equally compelling.

Thirdly, economic warfare between the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will largely increase competition in the data centre infrastructure market.

Last, Gartner thinks that buyers will come to regard multinational providers as untrustworthy. Also there is an increase in small white box assemblers.

Gartner believes that while Intel, AMD, Western Digital and Seagate will sit pretty for the next fee years, the first two will see erosion from ARM and other architectures.  Storage will shift to flash.

Western Digital fills drives with helium

helium-ballong-flygWestern Digital’s HGST subsidiary has added 8TB and 10TB hard drives to its HelioSeal product line.

These drives are hermetically seals in helium in order to reduce internal drive friction and power use and make your drives sound like Mickey Mouse.

HGST announced its first helium-filled hard drive, the 6TB He6 model in December.  It did rather well and broke all previous records for hard drive areal density.

HGST said that by 2017, it plans to end production of air-filled hard drives for use in corporate data centres and just use helium-filled products.

Along with the thinner gas’s ability to reduce power use, the helium-drives run at four to five degrees cooler than today’s 7200rpm drives, HGST stated.  Sealing air out of the drive also keeps humidity and other contaminates from getting in.

The announcement follows Seagate’s two weeks ago which announced its highest capacity enterprise hard drive would be an 8TB model that bypassed helium for air.

Seagate uses 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.

HGST’s new 3.5-in 8TB drive uses PMR technology. Both drives use a 12Gbps SAS interface, but by using helium instead of air, HGST said it was able to stack seven platters and reduce power usage at idle by 23 per cent and watts per terabyte of capacity by 44 per cent over its 6TB drive.

Seagate hatches insurance scheme

seagate-longmontStorage company Seagate is introducing insurance plans to give customers some peace of mind.

For $30, customers can sign up for two years of Seagate Rescue, where the company will save your lost data from a dodgy hard drive. Rescue and Replace, meanwhile, will not only recover your data but also send you a replacement hard drive.

Veep of marketing at Seagate, Scott Horn, suggested the company is actively trying to maintain its reputation of trust, as well as having it “provide peace of mind for those unforeseen events that might damage a drive or its contents”.

At the moment the service is only available at Seagate.com. In addition to the starting price of $30 for two years of Seagate Rescue, Rescue and Replace begins at $40 for two years, $50 or $60 for three and four respectively.

Rescuing data can prove expensive, but it will be up to the customer if they want to spend cash on a failure that may or may not happen.

For those even more paranoid about their data, it might be worth investing in an ioSafe hard drive, which can be submerged in water, run over with bulldozers, or blasted with a shotgun.

Seagate intros first 3.5-inch hybrid drive

seagate-longmontSeagate seems to believe in traditional desktops. The company has introduced the world’s first 3.5-inch hybrid drive in two flavours, 1TB and 2TB. Seagate has been making hybrid drives for years, but all of them were 2.5-inch models and most of them ended up in laptops.

However, the new ST1000DX001 is a big 3.5-inch desktop drive with as spindle speed of 7200rpm. Most 2.5-inch SSHDs spin at 5400rpm, so the new desktop drive should end up a bit faster. In addition, it should be cheaper than 2.5-inch drives and it’s available in 2TB, which is not the case with 2.5-inch hybrids that range from 320GB to 1TB in capacity.

The drive has an integrated 8GB NAND drive on top of 64MB of cache. Of course, it supports SATA 6Gbps and Seagate’s pitch says it delivers “SSD performance and HDD capacity”. This is pushing it to say the least. While it should end up faster than Seagate’s plain 3.5-inch drives, it won’t come close to proper SSDs in most scenarios.

However, that is beside the point. Traditional mechanical drives are on their way out and they will be replaced by hybrids. Enthusiasts and professionals will keep using SSDs are their primary drives, but for storage they’ll now be able to rely on hybrids and that sounds like a very nice mix.

The only trouble is that it’s not exactly what we’d call cheap. Early listings in Europe put it north of €110, which is quite pricey for a 3.5-inch 1TB drive, even if it is a hybrid.

Ultrabooks help SSD sales

ssdSolid-state drives are the new black and they are slowly starting to trickle down into mainstream PCs, thanks to cheaper Ultrabooks and increasing demand for non-enterprise drives. According to research firm IHS, SSD shipments for ultrathin notebooks and Ultrabooks totalled 5.9 million units this year, up from just 1.9 million a year ago.

SSDs are also making their first forays into the tablet sector, with shipments of 1.6 million units, up from 542,000 units last year. If demand for Windows 8 tablets and hybrids ever picks up, SSD deployment will follow suit.

Overall SSD shipments in the first quarter of 2013 amounted to 11.5 million units, up from 6 million in Q1 2012. However, it should be pointed out that IHS did not include shipments of NAND flash components for cache SSD drives and hybrid drives. In contrast, shipments of mechanical drives fell seven percent in Q1 to 135.7 million units, down from 145.5 million a year ago.

“The SSD market enjoyed big results in the first quarter as both the consumer and enterprise markets ramped up their use of machines that made use of the drives,” said Fang Zhang, analyst for storage systems at IHS. “Most notably, SSD attach rates climbed in ultrathin/Ultrabook PCs where SSDs are the de facto storage medium, and also in PC tablets where productivity options differentiate them from media tablets.”

Things could have been even better had Ultrabook sales taken off, but demand remains relatively soft. Hybrids, or 2-in-1s are the new flavour of the day, but analysts aren’t sure they will be a big success, either.

The big winners in Q1 were Samsung, Intel, SanDisk, HGST and newcomers Seagate and LSI.

Hard drive sales slow down

hdd-hugeShipments of mechanical hard drives are steadily declining, confirming what everyone in the industry knew already – the PC market is losing steam.

Seagate saw its Q2 shipments drop 3.2 percent over Q1, to 53.9 million drives. Toshiba lost some market share and shipped 19.6 million units. Western Digital shipped 59.9 million drives, 0.4 percent less than in Q1.

Shipments of mobile drives were also down 0.4 percent and the average drive size remained at 610GB. Hybrid drives are not taking off as expected by some punters.

Desktops fared even worse, with an 8.3 percent decline from the first quarter. The slump may cause some inventory concerns in Q3 and beyond. The average capacity of desktop drives shipped last quarter was 1TB, no changes there.

There is some good news to report as well. The enterprise hard drive market is recovering. It was up 12 percent last quarter. Shipments of hard drives for consumer electronics were also up, 0.8 percent according to IT Wire

Although there’s plenty of room for improvement, the hard drive market won’t recover anytime soon.

Cheaper SSDs and hybrid drives are also starting to make a mark, but HDDs are still the cheapest option and the darling of OEMs and consumers alike.

Hard drive prices to remain high despite slow demand

hdd-hugeThe hard drive market has sailed through a lot of turbulence over the last two years, and when we say sail we are obviously referring to the 2011 floods in Thailand.

The floods wreaked  havoc on a number of component fabs catering to leading HDD producers. As a result hard drive prices skyrocketed and did not stabilize for almost two years.

In fact, hard drive prices remain stubbornly high, despite the fact that the floods hit in October 2011. According to IT Wire, prices of desktop 3.5-inch drives are still up 12 to 14 percent, which is also indicative of soft demand for desktops. Although notebook sales remain slow, prices of 2.5-inch drives are going down.

However, prices of solid state drives have tumbled over the past two years, although they seem to be stabilizing. Demand for NAND remains strong, propped up by tablets and smartphones, hence SSDs are experiencing massive price drops, which were expected by some observers a few years ago.

hard-drive-prices

Although SSDs are a lot cheaper than two years ago, they are still too expensive for many applications. Small solid state drives are starting to squeeze out small hard drives, but this is a painfully slow process. Due to their size and power efficiency, SSDs are doing particularly well in notebooks. Hybrid drives are also becoming a very interesting choice for desktops, cheap notebooks and even enterprise applications.

The consolidation of the hard drive industry, which is now practically a WD – Seagate duopoly, also has the potential to drive up prices. Luckily, SSDs should keep hard drive prices in check, as their increasingly competitive pricing will leave very little wiggle room for hard drive makers.

Seagate launches enterprise hybrid drives

enterprise-turbo-composite-hero-313x313Seagate has upped the ante in the enterprise hard drive market with a new range of hybrids (SSHDs) designed to meet the needs of server makers. Until now, vendors had a choice of speedy 15,000rpm mechanical drives or pricey SSDs, both of which had their drawbacks.

Seagate’s new Enterprise Turbo drives aim to deliver the best of both worlds. The flagship 3.5-inch 600GB drive features a spindle speed of 15,000rpm, but it also has 32GB of flash cache.

Seagate says it should cost just a bit more than a 2.5-inch 15,000rpm drive, but it should be up to three times faster than a plain 3.5-inch 15,000rpm drive.

“Typically the most demanding mission critical applications for 15K drives have improved performance by compromising on capacity and cost per GB,” said Rocky Pimentel, Seagate executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer.

Seagate already put the new drive through its paces, as it spent the better part of a year testing enterprise SSHDs in IBM System x servers. The tests revealed that a 10,000rpm SSHD boasts IOPS over two times greater than a standard 10,000rpm drive. Seagate claims Enterprise Turbo SSHDs deliver a threefold random performance improvement over HDDs in mission critical tasks, while the price remains similar.

Seagate says the new drives will ship in capacities of up to 600GB and the prices should be comparable to regular hard drives, but we still don’t know the specifics. In any case the first drives are already shipping to vendors and resellers, so the exact numbers should be out soon.

Sales of slim HDDs are soaring

seagate-hddEarlier this year Seagate and Western Digital introduced a range of 5-millimetre and 7-millimetre HDDs/SSHDs and it appears they will have no shortage of customers. According to IHS, sales of 5- and 7-millimetre drives will soar to 133 million units by 2017, up from just five million last year.

Ultra thin hard drives and hybrid drives are used in Ultrabooks and other thin devices, which are expected to slowly squeeze more traditional form factors out of the consumer market in coming years.

IHS reckons shipments of 9.5mm drives will drop to 79 million units by 2017, down from 245 million in 2012, reports Electronicsfeed.

However, it won’t all be smooth sailing for hard drive makers. Shipments of SSDs are still growing at a fast pace. SSD shipments are projected to climb some 90 percent this year, hitting 64.6 million units, whereas hard drives shipments are slowing down. They are expected to drop five percent to 545.8 million units. Ultra thin hard drives and hybrids will help in the short term, but SSDs will continue to find new markets as prices of NAND drop.

The big hope for hard drive makers is that they will manage to score more design wins with their new thin drives, as they are still a lot cheaper than SSDs. This is where they can expect some help from Microsoft, as Windows 8.x is a lot more bloated than iOS or Android, so there is a chance that cheap Windows hybrids and tablets will have to use mechanical drives, or hybrid drives.

“Both the thinner HDDs along with hybrid HDDs could even start finding acceptance in ultrathin PCs and tablet PCs—two products that now mostly use solid-state drives as their storage element. Hard disks have lost market share to SSDs, which offer better performance and can be more easily used to achieve a thinner and lighter form factor crucial to tablets and ultrathin PCs,” said Fang Zhang, storage systems analyst at IHS.

In the long run, however, hard drives have no place in tablets or hybrids, or 2-in-1s as Intel likes to call them these days. In any case they are a cheap and proven interim alternative, as they will enable vendors to come up with cheaper ultrathin devices before SSD prices come down to acceptable levels.

Seagate thinks SSDs and HDDs can coexist

hdd-hugeNow that it has started peddling solid-state drives of its own, Seagate seems to think there is plenty of room for SSDs and HDDs to coexist, with hybrid drives serving like a buffer of sorts.

In other words, hybrid drives will be the equivalent of Belgium or Bosnia, which means they don’t exactly have a bright future in the long run. Sooner or later SSDs will come knocking at their door.

In an interview with the Korea Herald, Seagate VP Banseng Teh said the future of storage lies not in hard drives or unit sales, but in storage capacity. Commenting on reports that Samsung might ditch its desktop PC business, Teh said such a turn of events wouldn’t have much of an impact on Seagate. It is worth noting that Samsung has denied that it is pulling out of desktops.

“The volume of what we ship to desktop makers including Samsung is admittedly retreating, but this trend does not affect us because it is not about the units we ship, but the capacity,” Teh said.
Teh believes that annual storage shipments will grow 20 fold by capacity by 2020, which sounds quite optimistic. Desktops might not be the driving force behind hard drive sales, but other form factors and new devices should take their place.

Hard drives will not only get bigger, they will get smarter, too. Teh believes that over 85 percent of hard drives will eventually incorporate hybrid technology. In addition, SSD penetration in notebooks should hit 33 percent by 2016, with a CAGR of 162.4 percent between 2011 and 2016.

However, SSD remain prohibitively expensive and they won’t replace mechanical drives anytime soon. That is why Seagate and other hard drive makers are focusing on hybrid drives in the interim.

“Besides being impractical, a sudden surge in investment would likely plunge the semiconductor industry into a massive slump,” Teh said. “Our goal and strategy is to provide the broadest range of options for our customers, be it SSDs, hybrid or hard disk drives, based on their computing needs.”

Seagate reshuffles sales and marketing team

seagate-longmontSeagate has announced a few changes in its sales and marketing team, most of which are centred on EMEA. The company said it reshuffled the team to address growth opportunities in cloud, SSD and branded storage markets.

Mark Whitby, Seagate’s vice president of EMEA Sales & Marketing and Global Channel Sales, said the changes will ensure that Seagate positions itself to address evolving market opportunities.

“The storage market is both growing and changing rapidly, and the changes we have made to our senior management team are intended to keep Seagate in the forefront of that market,” he said. “In particular, we want to take full advantage of the huge potential we see in areas such as cloud computing, solid state drives and in the market for branded storage solutions.”

In his expanded role as Vice President of EMEA Sales & Marketing and Global Channel Sales, Mark Whitby has now been charged responsibility for the company’s global distribution channel sales, developing and leading strategy and delivery of the business worldwide.

Joe Fagan is being appointed Senior Director of Cloud Initiatives, EMEA. In this newly created position he will be responsible for shaping Seagate’s Cloud strategy and engagement in the region.

Dimitri Galle has been appointed Senior Director of Sales and Marketing, Branded Products, EMEA. In his new position he will be responsible for sales and marketing of all Seagate-branded retail products across the region.

Bernd Breinbauer has been appointed to the newly created role of Director of EMEA SSD Sales with responsibility for developing sales of the company’s comprehensive solid state drive portfolio across the region. Seagate entered the highly competitive SSD market just a few weeks ago and Breinbauer obviously has a lot of work ahead.