Western Digital Announces First 26TB Server Hard Drive | Knowledge of the data center

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Western Digital is about to launch its largest capacity hard drive, offering 26 terabytes of storage space.

To achieve this milestone, the company relied on a technology called Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) – which layers neighboring data tracks on the disk platter on top of each other, like roof shingles. This approach increases capacity at the expense of write speed, making the new drives particularly suitable for long-term storage in cloud environments.

WD is also releasing a 22TB conventional server drive and a new family of high-capacity NVMe SSDs for cloud applications that leverage the higher-bandwidth PCIe 4 interface.

The announcements were made this week at What’s next Western Digital conference in San Francisco.

“As a long-time partner of the industry’s leading cloud providers, we understand their unique requirements for building next-generation cloud infrastructure and have invested in several hard drive innovations that we’ve developed alongside our technology. areal density,” said Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, executive vice president and general manager of the HDD business unit. at Western Digital.

“Our intent in adopting this development strategy was not only to meet the capacity demands of the world’s largest cloud titans, but to provide a roadmap that would also support the economic evolution of their data centers for decades to come.”

The biggest record you can buy

The 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 includes ten 2.6TB disk platters, representing an industry first in data density.

Like other high-capacity hard drives, it’s filled with helium rather than air, because inert gas offers less resistance. This simple property allows drive manufacturers to reduce power requirements, weight, drive vibration, mechanical wear, and internal temperature. WD started putting helium in some of its drives in 2013, while its main competitor Seagate joined the party in 2016.

Another trick used in the new drives is Western Digital’s energy-assisted Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (ePMR) technology. This applies an electric current to the write head element, allowing it to write individual data bits closer together (technical explanation here). ePMR first appeared in commercial products in 2020, with Western Digital leading the way.

And finally, the new drives leverage OptiNAND, a feature that replaces a small chunk of DRAM typically used in hard drives for a variety of caching operations with a larger chunk of flash memory that has the added benefit of keeping data intact in case of power failure. breakdown.

Looking to the future, WD said it is confident that these technologies will allow it to produce hard drives with a capacity of 30TB, and more. To ensure further progress, the company continues to work on heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, which attaches a tiny laser to the write head to make the platter surface more receptive to magnetic effects.

Seagate appears to be further afield with HAMR, releasing the first commercial drives of its kind in 2020.

The 22TB Ultrastar DC HC570 and 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 will begin shipping in summer 2022.

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