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6TB - big? Pah! Seagate plans to put out 8TB and 10TB MONSTERS

We're dying to find out whether it'll pull out the HAMR

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We got all excited about Seagate's latest 6TB drive but, really, we haven't seen anything yet. It has been revealed that the spinning rust company is anticipating 8TB and 10TB drives later this year.

This info came out in the company's third quarter results earnings call, where chairman, president and CEO Steve Luczo was talking about price erosion with nearline storage, high-capacity 3.5-inch drives:

Nearline, I think has been aggressive in the last couple, three quarters and I just don’t see those price erosions sustaining themselves, given the capacity points that we have to deliver over the next year, going from 6 to 8 to 10 terabytes.

He referred to them again in the context of lead times:

... as you get to the 6 and the 8 and the 10 terabyte drives, the lead time on those drives is going to be pretty significant whether or not that’s wafer-related or whether or not that’s test-related. And so you are not going to kind of be able to call up and say, by the way I need an extra 500,000 eight TBs I forgot to order, because they are just not going to be there and the industry can’t respond that quickly.

Let's speculate: the 6TB Enterprise Capacity drive could be joined by 8TB and 10TB companions, meaning a 33.3 per cent and 66.6 per cent increase respectively. These are big jumps, especially the latter. Seagate could increase capacity in several ways:

  • Shingled Magnetic Recording
  • Adding platters
  • Moving to HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording)

Seagate expects shingling to increase a drive's capacity by up to 25 per cent. That's not enough to bump a 6TB drive up to 8TB capacity.

Adding platters would mean, using current technology, that a six-platter 6TB drive would become a 10-platter 10TB drive and the enclosure would not fit in standard 3.5-inch drive bay. That seems unlikely.

The general trend of thinking about HAMR technology is that it will start being seen in disk drives in 2016.

But, back in February 2013, we reported: "Seagate aims to ship enhanced capacity shingled magnetic recording (SMR) disk drives later this year and bring in Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) technology next year, a full two years earlier than supposed."

Seagate exec Rocky Pimentel, who was then Seagate's chief sales and marketing officer, told Stifel Nicolaus MD Aaron Rakers at a Stifel Tech Conference last year that "we can expect Seagate to ship HAMR disks in 2014."

Well, it's 2014 and the HAMR head could be dropping down on us later this year...

You can read background info on HAMR technology here.

Has Luczo opened Seagate's kimono and given us a glimpse of its HAMR tech? It sure looks like it to this salivating tech hack. ®

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