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Brace yourself for 4TB drives next year

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If you think 3TB drives are big think on this; 4TB ones are coming.

Isilon's marketing head, Sam Grocott, was asked today about customers moving old data to tape and said: "With 4TB drives around the corner will people bother?"

They may not indeed as an Isilon clustered system built on 2TB drives could theoretically double its capacity. What does "around the corner" mean?

Grocott said: "We actually see 4TB drives mid-next year. That's what our drive vendors are telling us."

So suppliers like Hitachi GST, Seagate and Western Digital are telling customers like Isilon to expect 4TB 3.5-inch hard drives by the middle of next year.

That means we should see desktop and external drives with that capacity level as well as internal drives. It implies also that possibly we'll see 1.5 and maybe 2TB small form factor (2.5-inch) drives as well.

Four and eight-slot small business NAS systems will hold 16 and 32TB if data. Backing that lot up to tape will surely incline even more people to backup to disk instead.

Such relatively small NAS boxes will need better data protection schemes like RAID 6, as so much data could be lost if a second drive fails while a RAID rebuild is going on after an initial drive failure that it doesn't bear thinking about.

At the enterprise level today's arrays with 2TB drives could just double their capacity to seemingly fantastic heights. A downside is that disk I/O isn't getting any faster and the ability to stripe data across spindles to increase I/O rates will become more important. ®

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