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Seagate Aims For 100 TB HDDs
Quote:Seagate plans to push new magnetic hard drive technologies to market in the next 5-7 years, culminating with magnetic drives capable of storing as much as 100TB of data. That would be a marked improvement from the present day — current top-end spinning drives hold 14TB, and capacities haven’t grown particularly quickly in the past few years. We’ve seen drive sizes nudge upwards bit by bit, helped by the advent of helium, but nothing like the rates we once took for granted. Price improvements per-GB have slowed dramatically and the difficulty of moving from perpendicular recording to more advanced methods of writing data to drives at higher densities has slowed overall progress as well.

One can make a cogent argument that this is what drove the adoption of helium in the first place. Manufacturers would never have spent so much time and effort trying to stuff a noble gas into a sealed container as a means of squeezing more platters into the same space if they could’ve just built denser platters to start with. Now, Seagate clearly thinks it’s turned a corner with HAMR — Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording — that will allow it to dramatically boost drive capacities once more.
Shipping HAMR drives will be a genuine technological achievement, even if spinning disks themselves don’t get much love these days. But this raises an interesting question in and of itself: While Seagate, Western Digital, and Toshiba all have major plans for the data center and the future of cloud deployments will undoubtedly continue to demand enormous amounts of storage, it’s not clear what the mainstream consumer market for these high-capacity drives practically looks like. Most of the spinners I own are still in the 2-4TB range, and I haven’t really felt pinched to move to higher capacity hardware for years.

I suspect most enthusiasts have moved to SSDs for near-line / “hot” storage by now and are mostly using HDDs for backup, but it’ll be interesting to see if we see any movement in consumer drive capacities thanks to these improvements. One thing we can safely assume will expand with the next generation of consoles will be game installations. A 512GB SSD isn’t enough for our benchmark suites anymore, and the advent of the next console generation could make even 2TB feel a little pinched. Under that kind of storage constriction, we may see gamers deploying more spinners again — or maybe SSDs will finally be cheap enough that we’ll all be packing 4TB drives.

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