Western 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.
Shipments 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.
The 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.
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.
Western Digital has started shipping the world’s first ultraslim 2.5-inch drives, designed specifically to meet the needs of Ultrabook vendors and makers of all things thin.
Measuring just 5mm at the waistline, WD’s new drives should enable even thinner devices, but as an added benefit they are quieter and more efficient than 7mm and 9.5mm drives. The new ultraslims also usher in a new era for WD, as they are the company’s first big foray into the hybrid drive market.
Seagate pioneered the hybrid drive market a couple of years ago with its Momentus XT series. It was only a matter of time before Western Digital entered the market and earlier this year they showed off their first SSHD designs. They were followed up by 5mm slim WD Black SSHD products. Mechanical 5mm drives will be marketed under the WD Blue brand.
“With the launch of our new WD Blue 5 mm ultra slim hard drives and our WD Black SSHD products, currently shipping to OEMs, WD is delivering to our customers a variety of solutions that maximize storage capacity and volumetric efficiency, as well as performance and system responsiveness, for consumers,” said Matt Rutledge, vice president of WD’s client computing business unit. “Our engineering team took a clean-sheet approach with 5 mm to deliver an ultra-thin hard drive that enables a world of possibilities and applications for mobile computing and beyond.”
Although SSDs are slowly emerging as the preferred choice for Ultrabooks and high performance notebooks, the medium range and low end are still dominated by traditional hard drives, with a few proprietary hybrid solutions here and there, usually found in budget ultrathins powered by AMD low voltage chips and a few cheap Intels.
Hybrid drives offer substantial performance gains over traditional HDDs, at the fraction of the cost of proper SSDs. This is what is starting to make them increasingly appealing for system integrators and end-consumers alike.
Although Western Digital’s first 5mm are shipping to disties and OEMs as we speak, they are still available in a single capacity, 500GB. The mechanical WD Blue drive is priced at $89, but WD did not release the price of the WD Black hybrid unit.
The downside? WD’s ultraslims feature a new proprietary connector, as the standard SATA and DC plugs are simply too big for 5mm drives.