Subject: Storage | April 3, 2013 - 06:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Seagate, 1TB Platter, 4TB, Hard Drive, storage
Seagate recently took the wraps off of a new 4TB hard drive. The new drive uses the company's 1TB platters, and the ST4000DM000 uses four 1TB platters. Other characteristics include a 7,200 RPM spindle speed, 64MB cache, and support for the SATA III 6 Gbps interface.
According to the company, the 4TB drive boasts an average read/write data rate of 146MB/s (which is good for a mechanical hard drive), max sustained transfer speed of 180MB/s, and sub-8.5ms and 9.5ms average seek times for read and write operations respectively.
The drive is compatible with Seagate's DiskWizard technology, allowing the full 4TB to be used on legacy operating systems. At 4TB, this drive is perfect for digital pack rats and media enthusiasts.
The 4TB Seagate drive can be found for around $190 USD online for the bare-bones drive, or approximately $205 for retail packaging. You can find more information on the 4TB mechanical hard drive on this Seagate data sheet (PDF) or the drive's product page.
I have to admit that I'm tempted by this, despite not having filled my 2TB drive yet.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2013 - 09:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: storage, isuppli, Hard Drive
Analytics firm IHS recently released its iSuppli Storage Space Market Brief. According to the report, 2013 does not look good for hard drive manufacturers who may see up to a 12% decline in revenues. In 2012 the hard drive industry brought in $37.1 billion, but IHS estimates only $32.7 billion in 2013. Further, revenue in 2014 is estimated at a mere $32 billion.
In response to new hard drive technologies and pressure from solid state drives, IHS predicts hard drive selling prices will fall 7%. Thanks to this price erosion, the report suggests that hard drive manufacturers across the board will experience declines in gross and operating profit margins. The hard drive industry will have to contend with cheaper solid state drives as well as competition within the industry. Seagate and Western Digital will continue to battle it out for market dominance with new technologies and a continued price war that will see margins becoming thinner than ever as $/GB metrics continue to fall rapidly.
Reportedly, the hard drive makers will also have to contend with smartphones and tablets (that use solid state storage) making inroads into the PC market. Sales of traditional PCs are said to be somewhat cannibalized by mobile devices, and those reduced sales will affect the hard drive component manufacturers negatively.
On the other hand, it is not all bad news for the HDD makers. Hard drives still have per-drive capacity and $/GB on their side. Hard drives may be losing ground to SSDs, but for cheap consumer computers and large storage arrays used in the enterprise space hard drives are still the way to go. Consumer PC sales may no longer be growing rapidly, but big data is still a growing market so that will help the hard drive market.
All in all, 2013 will be beneficial for consumers as they will be getting cheaper and more-dense hard drives. This year is not looking good for the hard drive manufacturers, however.
Image of hard disk drive courtesy Walknboston via Flickr Creative Commons.
Subject: Storage | September 19, 2012 - 11:27 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: western digital, WD, patter density, hitachi, hgst, helium, Hard Drive, 6tb
Western Digital-owned Hitachi Global Storage (HGST) recently announced that it is pursuing the mass production of helium-filled hard drives. The culmination of six-plus years of research and development, Hitachi’s engineers have come up with a workable solution to craft a sealed enclosure to contain the helium and internal drive hardware over the long term and in a way that can be mass produced. While the company is not ready to talk specifics or announce individual products, HGST (Western Digital) is going on record in stating that its helium-filled “hard drive platform” will offer up performance, power efficiency, and capacity improvements in a 3.5" form factor (with up to seven platters) sometime in 2013.
Don't try this at home folks, it won't actually work :).
The current crop of hard drives have small holes on the top to allow air pressure equalization, as the drives are not a fully-sealed design (and is why dunking them in oil is a bad idea). The proposed helium-filled hard drives would change that design, by being fully sealed from the outside environment after being filled with the noble gas. Steve Campbell, CTO at HGST stated the following in the company's press release:
“The benefits of operating a HDD with helium fill have been known for a long time. The breakthrough is in the product and process design, which seals the helium inside the HDD enclosure cost effectively in high-volume manufacturing,”
But why exactly is helium better for hard drives? In short, the gas is one-seventh (1/7) as dense as the air around us. This reduction in density allows for the platters to spin faster, or at the same spindle speeds at today's drives while experiencing less resistance and turbulance from versus an air-filled hard drive. Thanks to the reduced drag force, Hitachi can pack the platters closer together, which means that it can place more platters into the 3.5" hard drive form factor than ever before – up to seven with the current design. Further, the motor does not have to work as hard to drive the platters which results in quieter operation and more power savings. HGST also claims that using helium allows for better thermal conductivity, and allows the helium-filled hard drives to run up to 4°C cooler than an equivalently-configured air-equalized drive. Granted, 4°C is not that much of an improvement when looking at a single drive (or even a few in a desktop system), but it can add up to some decent cooling savings when these drives are utilized in datacenters.
Hitachi Global Storage does not yet have any specific products to announce publicly, but the company did offer up a few performance numbers that certainly seem promising – an in line with the company's goal of reducing the "total cost of ownership," or TCO. In addition tot he temperature improvements, the company claims up to 23% power reduction versus air. And when HGST factors in its seven-platter design, they have managed to bring the Watts-per-Terabyte (W/TB) 45% versus current drives. Assuming the helium-aided hard drives use the same (or more) amount of platter area as the company's previous drives, Hitachi/Western Digital could offer up to 7TB hard drives when combined with the company's 1TB per platter areal density improvements.
It has the potential to get even better, however. Should the engineers be able to integrate Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) – similar to what Seagate is pursuing – helium hard drives could offer up approximately 85TB 3.5" drives thanks to the additional two platters. Previously, Seagate envisioned up to 60TB HAMR hard drives in the 3.5" form factor. Those numbers are fairly far off in the future (and theoretical), however. On the other hand, Seagate believes that 6TB HAMR hard drives are reasonably close to public consumption, and if a HAMR drive could also benefit from the extra platters, potential spindle speed improvements, and power savings of using helium, I think 8TB+ is not out of the question while using less power than a traditional air-equalized (not sealed) 6TB HAMR-equipped hard drive.
Extremetech does bring up an interestng point about pricing, though. Mainly that helium is much more expensive than simply using the air around us! And as it is used up, it will only get more expensive, which are likely costs that will be passed onto consumers. Fortunately, it should not be too much of a premium that customers would have to pay (over a traditional hard drive) because a 3.5" hard drive will need only a small amount of the helium gas to realize the benefits, according to PC Perspective's resident storage guru Allyn Malventano.
What do you think about the prospects of a heluim-filled hard drive? Will we see such devices within our lifetimes, and just how much will these things cost? I suppose we'll have to wait until next year to find out!
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Storage | September 10, 2012 - 05:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ultrabook, ssd caching, ssd, Hard Drive
Western Digital has been sampling 5mm-thin 2.5” hard drives designed for Ultrabooks. They have currently announced partnerships with Acer and ASUS to include these drives in future ultrathin laptops. Western Digital has currently only listed capacities of 500GB for the spindle portion of the drive but no word how much MLC flash will be included to cache most used files. The product will be discussed during the company’s investor day on the 13th of this month.
At this stage SSDs are pretty much the missing link to a fast and responsive computer.
Prices have dropped to under one dollar per gigabyte ($1/GB) a few months ago with some models reaching 70c/GB – and those are the good ones too. The massive drop in price is still about an order of magnitude more expensive than spindle hard drives and consumers are using whatever space they can get. Several solutions exist to balance the speed of SSDs with the storage effectiveness of HDDs.
One solution is to include both in a single drive and keep the most used data in the SSD cache. Western Digital has just released samples of 5mm-thin hybrid hard drives for OEMs to put in extremely thin laptops.
I wonder if they're feeling chip-er...
Users who purchase laptops often have the mistaken assumption that a faster processor directly leads to increased response. That is certainly the case when comparing an Intel Atom to an i5 – but an i3 will probably spend just as much time idle and awaiting instructions from the hard drive as an i5 would.
Western Digital has not broken the SSD market despite their long success with spindle storage. It makes sense that Western Digital will push into the market with the starting point from which they are most comfortable. Western Digital has been shipping SSDs for over two-and-a-half years at this point but never really gained any traction.
It looks like Western Digital is realizing that they need to mix SSDs with what they know best and do something innovative to get a unique hook in the market – buying just a little more time.
The drive which has been announced today will contain a storage capacity of 500GB with an undisclosed amount of MLC NAND flash memory caching the most used data. The hook to differentiate themselves from other hybrid hard drives is its size: 5mm compared to the more common 9.5mm.
The Ultrabook market could be a lucrative wave to ride for the time being and give them even more capital to invest future SSDs. Hopefully they will not wait for solid state storage to creep up on them twice. Fool you once…
Western Digital is expected to discuss and showcase this product more at their Western Digital Investor Day on this Thursday, September 13th, 2012.
Subject: General Tech | August 5, 2012 - 10:23 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ssd, Seagate, LaCie, Hard Drive, controlling interest
Earlier this year, it was revealed that hard drive manufacturer was interested in acquiring a controlling interest in LaCie. LaCie is a manufacturer of high-end desktop drive and NAS enclosures. The company announced that it planned to purchase shares from LaCie CEO and Chairman Philippe Spruch and an unnamed partner. Doing so would give Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares. It is further offering shareholders as much as $5.09 USD for their shares should Seagate acquire 95% of outstanding shares and voting rights within six months of the deal closing.
After getting the necessary go ahead from various governmental anti-trust bodies, Seagate is ready to move forward with the acquisition. Both Seagate Technology PLC (public limited company) and LaCie S.A. (annonymous society) have announced the buyout is official. Seagate has indeed purchased all shares owned by Philippe Spruch and his partner for €4.05 (approximately $5.01) per share, giving Seagate 64.5% of outstanding shares and a majority interest in the company and more votes than the remaining investors combined. Should Seagate acquire 95% of shares within six months, the check made out to the LaCie chairman and his unnamed affiliate would increase 3% due to the price per share paid increasing to €4.17/share (approximately $5.16).
The merging of Seagate and LaCie logos (hehe).
Beyond that, Seagate wants to completely buy out all outstanding shares of the company. It will offer an all cash offer to the remaining shareholders. While Ricol Lasteyrie & Associes is still the independent expert that was announced previously, Seagate has increased the price per share that they are willing to offer shareholders. Should the independent experts okay the offer (by making sure that LaCie shareholders would be getting an appropriate amount of money per share based on an independent valuation), Seagate is prepared to pay up to €4.50 per share, or approximately $5.57. With the new offer, there is no contingency offer like the 3% increase to Spruch should Seagate get 95% of shares. The €4.50 is as much as Seagate is looking to pay.
With all the talk lately of Seagate acquiring an SSD manufacturer, the official acquisition of LaCie is interesting. Seagate may well still be looking for an SSD manufacturer, because although LaCie does have some flash USB key storage experience and products, they do not have SSD experience. Also, the intention to buy LaCie has been known for much longer than the rumor that Seagate would acquire OCZ has been making the rounds on the web. As far as the combination of Seagate and LaCie goes, Seagate is getting a high-end enclosure product lineup that the company can then integrate its own drives into.
While not the announcement that people were hoping for, it is likely a positive move to Seagate to acquire LaCie. Is it OCZ or Fusion IO’s turn next?
Here, you can find more information on the deal.
Introduction and Internals
I'm going to let the cat out of the bag right here and now. Everyone's home RAID is likely an accident waiting to happen. If you're using regular consumer drives in a large array, there are some very simple (and likely) scenarios that can cause it to completely fail. I'm guilty of operating under this same false hope - I have an 8-drive array of 3TB WD Caviar Greens in a RAID-5. For those uninitiated, RAID-5 is where one drive worth of capacity is volunteered for use as parity data, which is distributed amongst all drives in the array. This trick allows for no data loss in the case where a single drive fails. The RAID controller can simply figure out the missing data by running the extra parity through the same formula that created it. This is called redundancy, but I propose that it's not.
Subject: Storage | July 10, 2012 - 08:04 AM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, red, NAS, hdd, Hard Drive
** Note ** - Full review has been posted HERE!
Today Western Digital launches their Red series of hard drives. These are basically Caviar Greens that are specificially tuned to operate in small RAID configurations - namely home and small business NAS solutions containing up to 5 drives. These drives carry over some of the features present on Western Digital's Enterprise lines while adding a few of their own.
We got samples of the Red in yesterday evening, so instead of going on with conjecture derived from the news post, I'll hit you with the new features and a bit of my initial impressions from our early benching:
- Extremely quiet operation thanks to a new dynamic balancing mechanism built into the spindle motor hub. The drive essentially re-balances itself on-the-fly as temperatures change, etc.
- Seeks are equally quiet - quiet enough that a bunch of these doing random access outside of an enclosure would barely be audible from only a few feet away.
- Great sequential throughput (~150MB/sec at start of disk, ramping down to ~65MB/sec at the end).
- Random access times in the 20ms range - likely due to the very quiet seeking mechanism.
- Red Series drives will all be advanced format (i.e. internally addressed by 4k sectors).
- Reds will all be 1TB/platter, available in 1, 2, and 3TB capacities. This gives similar throughput figures regardless of capacity purchased.
- 3-year warranty, with a 24/7 support hotline specifically for Red owners.
- Red drives feature a QR code on the label to assist with any support issues down the road.
I'm not kidding about the quiet operation. The only sound the Red makes is reminiscent of a DVD spinning at low speed, in a sound deadening enclosure. There is no motor whine whatsoever and the head actuator is nearly inaudible. I have to almost lay my head on the drive to tell it is seeking at all.
A full review with all of the gory details will be up later today. For now I leave you with the WD press release after the break, along with this nifty QR to get you more info on the Red Series:
*note - the QR page may not yet be live.
Subject: Editorial, Storage | June 18, 2012 - 09:56 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: deal of the day, external drive, Hard Drive, buffalo
Today's deal offers us a 2TB version of the Buffalo LinkStation Live, a NAS device (network attached storage) that allows users to easily backup their systems while being able to share the resources on the drive at the same time.
The Buffalo LinkStation Live series of drives allows you to access the NAS through Android and iOS applications over the web, supports transfer rates as high as 1 Gbps, is Apple Time Machine compatible and integrates a BitTorrent client too. A copy of NovaBACKUP Professional is included for users to install and setup easy, automated PC backups. And you can use the LinkStation Live as a DLNA media server to boot.
Today, LogicBuy has a deal on this unit for $135 with free shipping, using a coupon code found in the product's description.
Subject: Storage | December 18, 2011 - 11:20 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: WD, thailand, ssd, Seagate, hdd, Hard Drive, flooding
The hard drive industry might be recovering more quickly than expected and the entire tech field should be hoping that is the case. We have been covering the unfortunate disaster in Thailand and the accompanying disruption in the world of storage since things first started hitting the fan in October. The initial result was a very dramatic price increase on traditional spinning disks - prices going up as much as 200% in some cases. This week we got our hands on some very interesting data from Dynamite Data, a company focused on channel monitoring, that they were willing to let us share with you.
First, the bad news that we already know about - the price increases we have seen percolate throughout the entire industry in the last two months.
Click to Enlarge
This graph shows the average price of the top 50 spinning disk drives over the last year in red and the very specific Western Digital Velociraptor 150GB pricing on Amazon.com in blue. You can see that around October 16th the big price increase began and over the entire ecommerce span that Dynamite Data monitors, prices on the top 50 HDDs went up by 42%. And while not shown in the graph, other provided data shows that at its peak the low-cost leaders in the HDD market increased their prices by 150% as of early December.
Why did this happen? Looking at inventory levels clearly shows the drop in availability.
Click to Enlarge
Based on those same top 50 SKUs, we saw ecommerce inventory drop by 90% in late October (in less than one week!) after the first impact on the supply chain that occurred on October 8th. What is interesting is that it took a week or more for the price changes to take place based on the analysis of the disaster in Thailand. Much to the dismay of many of the conspiracy theorists out there though this data definitely backs up the price increases from WD, Seagate and others.
There is an uplifting bit of news in both of the above the graphs though - look towards the end of the time lines of gathered data. Both show movement in the direction of consumer's interests: a jump in inventory and a drop in average pricing. WD announced on November 30th that the first of its production facilities was back online and we are already seeing results. Of course the CEO of Seagate is still claiming that it will take more than a year for the industry to recover but it looks like supply may increase at a quicker rate than initially expected.
Finally, just for a bit of added bonus coverage, many have wondered if the price increase on traditional spinning drives would affect the pricing of SSDs. Well, it looks like did at least for a 10 day span.
Click to Enlarge
Over the last year prices for solid state drives have dropped by 23% on the top 50 devices available with one minor hiccup. In a 10 day period between the end of October and early November, there was an SSD price increase that isn't explainable by any kind of inventory changes or supply line changes. This was likely due to the HDD shortage and vendors looking to maximize profits when consumers didn't have access to the low cost hard drives they were used to. But because the price increase lasted such a short time I think we can clearly see that customers didn't fall for the ploy and the hiccup was quickly self-corrected.
Even though we have been monitoring prices on our own since the Thailand disaster first occurred, it is great to get some hard data to put alongside our presumptions. While there is tons of bad news still to digest for at least the first two quarters of 2012, the information provided by Dynamite Data provides some hope that the worst is behind us. If you are interested in more analysis of this data and you will be at CES in January, you should stop by the Storage Visions conference where there will be a short talk on the topic.
Subject: Storage | December 13, 2011 - 03:54 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thailand, supply shortage, Intel, Hard Drive, amd
Due to the recent flooding in Thailand, many hard drive and hard drive part manufacturers have had to close down business to conduct repairs. Many technology news sites and enthusiasts speculated that the drive shortages from lost production time would drive the price of hard drives up dramatically as well as decreasing computer sales. The price of drives has indeed skyrocketed; however, it seems as though the fallout on the industry is a bit more widespread that originally thought.
Specifically, the hard drive shortage has even managed to effect semiconductor giant Intel. According to Market Watch, Intel Corp announced that it would be scaling back their sales outlook for the fourth quarter of 2011. While it’s previous sales outlook was an estimated $14.7 billion “plus or minus $500 million,” the company’s revised estimate is @13.7 Billion, with a +/- margin of $500 million. The 1 billion USD reduction may not seem like much for Intel; however, their stockholders have taken note and their shares are down 4 % to a closing price of $24 on Monday (and $23.56 at time of writing). As far as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the decline represents “one of the top decliners.”
The semiconductor giant is not the only company affected by the drive shortage, however. Arch nemesis AMD’s stock price down 4.3 % for example. The site also cites Applied Materials’ 6.1 % decline. The companies that many assumed would be affected by the hard drive supply shortage included PC OEMs such as Dell and HP whose stock prices have dropped 2.3 % and 1.6 % respectably. Western Digital has begun to spin up production in the area again; however, it is likely too late for the various companies to recover. The article analyst speculates that Intel will continue playing catch-up into the first quarter of next year, and will recover starting in Q2 2012.
The numbers are showing a decline in many technology company’s stock prices likely due to lower than projected profits. It is interesting to see that even Intel felt the waves caused by the shortage. Did you find yourself second guessing computer or hard drive purchases due to increased prices?