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HGST launches 10 TB HelioSeal HDD with shingle technology

The latest HGST HelioSeal HDD uses shingle technology and reaches 10 TB; trades performance for capacity and is aimed at archival storage.

Western Digital subsidiary HGST Inc. has introduced the first 10 TB hard disk drive (HDD), combining HGST's helium technology with host-managed shingled magnetic recording (SMR).

HGST, formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, aims the Ultrastar Archive Ha10 at hyper-scale data centers, cloud services providers and storage OEMs. Projected use cases include life sciences, media and entertainment, and online backup.

The Ultrastar Archive Ha10 uses HGST HelioSeal technology along with the SMR technique for layering data in overlapping tracks to increase areal density. The Ultrastar Archive supports SAS and SATA interfaces and applications on which data is read frequently but seldom modified.

John Rydning, a research vice president with IT research firm IDC, said HGST and other HDD manufacturers are trying to develop storage that straddles tape and high-performance disk and solid-state drive (SSD) storage.

"HDD suppliers have realized there is a need for something in between. What they're finding is that customers have to have responsiveness that's closer to an HDD, and everybody always wants lower-cost storage, whether it's on tape or on disk. It has to be better than what they currently are paying for storage," Rydning said.

High-capacity cold storage comes with performance tradeoff

The Ultrastar Archive Ha10 extends the HGST HelioSeal family of HDDs, which first appeared in a 6 TB version in 2013. HelioSeal technology hermetically seals the drive and fills it with lighter-than-air helium gas that results in thinner drives that reduce flutter and mechanical friction.

The bottom line is that HGST is trying to provide a solution that delivers more storage density per cubic foot at a lower dollar per gigabyte.
John Rydningresearch vice president, IDC

Ha10 drives are not compatible with HGST's petabyte-scale Active Archive 4U rack system, which uses HGST HelioSeal Ultrastar He8 8TB drives for primary storage and SSDs to store object metadata. The He8 drives are based on perpendicular magnetic recording.

Like the He8 line, the Ultrastar Archive Ha10 drive chassis contains seven platters. However, the Ha10 has lower performance than the He8 drives. The Ha10 is rated to provide sequential read of 157 megabits per second (Mbps) and sequential writes of 68 Mbps, and 66 random read IOPS. By comparison, the Ultrastar He8 performance specs include 205 Mbps speed for sequential reads and writes and 78 random read IOPS.

HGST rates mean time before failure for the 10 TB Ultrastar Archive at 2 million hours. The drives come with a five-year warranty.

"The cold storage market is getting warmer, and we're zooming in on the active-archive portion," said Brendan Collins, an HGST vice president of product marketing. "People expect their data to be accessible online in seconds so they can do search and analytics. It's the part of the market most sensitive to cost [fluctuation]."

Collins said HGST eventually expects to price the Ultrastar Archive drives approximately 20% lower than mainstream enterprise HDDs.

HelioSeal Ultrastar Archive drives may require software tweaks

Depending on the capabilities of their host operating systems, end users may be required to modify the host software stack to take advantage of SMR-based capacity increases. As part of the Ha10 release, HGST said a software development kit is available on GitHub to help application developers implement SMR commands that align randomized data in a sequential workload on disk.

HGST claims its host-managed SMR drives are an alternative to drive-managed SMR disks, which don't require new software code but provide varying levels of performance. Collins said large-scale data centers have been making changes to their file systems during the past year in anticipation of increased SMR adoption.

"Remember the transition from 512-byte drives to native 4K disk sectors? The cloud guys were ready for that transition 18 months before it happened. The transition to SMR will be about 10 times as complex," Collins said.

Capacity-intensive disks for cold storage are expected to gain a foothold in most organizations, IDC's Rydning said.

"You'll start to see 10 TB drives showing up in more traditional OEM hardware, probably not in this iteration but in a future-generation drive that is less reliant on the host to manage it," Rydning said. "The bottom line is that HGST is trying to provide a solution that delivers more storage density per cubic foot at a lower dollar per gigabyte."

Next Steps

HelioSeal drives shepherd spinning disk to the next level

HGST to develop high-capacity flash systems aimed at cloud providers

HGST Active-Archive system uses Helium drives

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