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Data Storage Hardware

Seagate Hits 1 Terabit Per Square Inch 224

Posted by timothy
from the please-take-a-minute-to-wonder dept.
MrSeb was one of several readers to submit news that drive manufacturer Seagate has announced (and demoed) the first hard drive to squeeze a terabit into each square inch of platter. "'Initially this will result in 6TB 3.5-inch desktop drives and 2TB 2.5-inch laptop drives, but eventually Seagate is promising up to 60TB and 20TB respectively. To achieve such a huge leap in density, Seagate had to use a technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). Basically, the main issue that governs hard drive density is the size of each magnetic 'bit.' These can only be made so small until the magnetism of nearby bits affects them. With HAMR, 'high density' magnetic compounds that can withstand further miniaturization are used. The only problem is that these materials, such as iron platinum alloy, are more stubborn when it comes to writing data — but if you heat it first, that problem goes away. With HAMR, Seagate has strapped a laser to the hard drive head; when it wants to write data, the laser turns on. Reading data is still done conventionally, without the laser. In theory, HAMR should allow for areal densities up to 10 terabits per square inch (magnetic sites that are just 1nm long!), and thus desktop hard drives in the 60TB range."
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Seagate Hits 1 Terabit Per Square Inch

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  • Wondering (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hardburlyboogerman (161244) <kwsmith41747@windstream.net> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:32AM (#39412517) Homepage Journal

    Can current motherboards handle that?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xushi (740195)

      Also wondering, will this set back SSD by 5 years?

      • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They are on ultimately diverging paths which may coexist symbiotically forever unless one beats the other out in either cost, reliability, or functionality.

      • Re:Wondering (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:57AM (#39412741) Journal

        Also wondering, will this set back SSD by 5 years?

        Probably not: This advance(while definitely helpful to the HDD, and no doubt some very impressive engineering work from the R&D team) is a reinforcement of exactly the same virtues that HDDs have historically had and of virtually no value in addressing their historical weaknesses:

        1. Capacity/dollar: Once the production is tooled up, the cost/gigabyte for HDDs can be expected to continue to decline.
        2. Linear read/write speed: Because of their high areal density and fairly swift rotation, HDDs can read or write like a bat out of hell as long as they don't have to do much seeking. Seeky or random I/O tanks them because of the need to physically move the head around and possibly wait the better part of a platter rotation for the spot you want.

        It will continue to be the case that HDDs are cheap for the capacity, and fast as hell for nice, linear, streaming operations; but SSDs can churn out the random I/O without breaking a sweat and are available in physically smaller and more shock-resistant packages(the economical range for HDDs is basically defined in multiples of the volume of a 2.5inch HDD, and don't drop them, SSDs start at BGAs the size of your fingernail and scale in multiples of those until your wallet explodes...

        • Hybrid (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Bensam123 (1340765) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @02:30PM (#39416445)
          I still think the answer to both the SSD and Mechanical question is hybrid drives. Seagate has tried them in the past, but they definitely aren't as fast as normal SSDs. If they can improve that tech and attach it to something like this, it's literally the best of both world. Honestly it would just be a much improved drive cache, which Seagate and other drive makers could've improved for years... but somehow never did...
      • Set them back? Depends on what you mean. It will certainly prolong the period when a spinning bit of metal is the best choice for certain applications. My laptop has a 256GB SSD. The biggest hard disk that will fit in it is about 1TB and is a lot cheaper, but the performance difference is huge. I don't need masses of storage space on my laptop (although 256GB isn't exactly a small amount), but the lower power consumption and heat is nice and being able to hit over 100MB/s of random reads and random wri
    • Re:Wondering (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:47AM (#39412649) Journal
      Depends on your definition of 'current'; but it shouldn't be an issue(density strictly speaking, isn't even meaningfully visible to the motherboard, except in the broad terms that denser=greater capacity from whatever number of platters is viable).

      That said, there are probably still a large number of motherboards that will be questionably bootable from the greater-than-2-terabyte drives that these platters are presumably intended for(some ghastly MBR thing); but anything new enough for 48-bit LBA and a modern OS should, at least, support perfectly normal OS use of the drive once everything is booted.
    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:56AM (#39412723)

      Can current motherboards handle that?

      Do you mean would PC manufacturers would design in arbitrary limits in their hardware and/or BIOS that would create some kind of "barrier", so that disks that are too big won't work with the system?

      That's highly doubtful. Nobody would be that stupid... would they?

      • Re:Wondering (Score:5, Informative)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @10:12AM (#39412901) Journal
        It's a legacy thing, not an intentional-crippling thing:

        The BIOS' handling of block devices dates back to when booting your OS off a floppy wasn't considered deviant behavior, and a 5MB HDD was some pretty serious gear. The details are kind of messy [wikipedia.org]...

        Most reasonably contemporary stuff should at least do 48-bit LBA; but there are still a lot of systems in the wild that still need MBR, at least on the boot disk(which limits you to 2TB partitions).
        • Yeah, they always claim that "this time, we've fixed the barriers for good!". Then a few years later, you learn about some new barrier.

          I had to deal with a subtle version of this just recently when they upped the hardware block size. Lots of fun trying to partition and boot my new disks; LBA didn't save the day there.

          After hitting a dozen or so "barriers" over the decades, I doubt that they're ever going to really succeed in future-proofing systems for storage size.

          • From a motherboard manufacturer's standpoint, they will future proof but only so far. The main reason is cost and practicality. They could future proof something ten years in advance but what is the likely hood that the equipment isn't obsolete by then. Also future proofing that far means support. They would rather introduce new models every few years and leave out backwards compatibility. Now if you are willing to pay more for a board that is more future proof, you can do so. But most people want che
          • by afidel (530433)
            EFI with GPT does solve the problem once and for all, it's just not common yet since Windows 7 was the first common desktop OS to support EFI.
            • by jedidiah (1196)

              That's a clever way of trying to avoid admitting that Microsoft was last to the party again.

              • Linux support of EFI isn't all that great either.
                • Unfortunately, EFI essentially 'solves' the problem of the BIOS by taking every vice available and adding a giant screaming heap of complexity(the quality of which is generally at the mercy of your motherboard maker)... It's sort of an enormous clusterfuck, pretty much what would happen if you took the people who gave us ACPI and told them to write an operating system...

                  Wintel EFI firmwares are lurching toward ubiquity and not-complete-brokenness(albeit defined pretty much exclusively by whether Windows7
                  • That does sound like the Apple way: EFI is simple from the user perspective. All you have to do is set the partition and boot folder, no messing with the MBR or anything. From the developer perspective, it's a hairy mess. They did the same thing with Appletalk.
                  • Incidentally, how do you know so much about bootloaders and such?
            • by msauve (701917)
              "EFI with GPT does solve the problem once and for all"

              Well, no, not really.

              GPT allows for a maximum disk and partition size of 9.4 zettabytes.

              After all, 9.4 zettabytes should be enough for anyone [wired.com].
      • Re:Wondering (Score:5, Informative)

        by petermgreen (876956) <plugwashNO@SPAMp10link.net> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @10:52AM (#39413351) Homepage

        Computers tend to measure things with fixed size binary numbers since these are by far the most efficient format for them to handle and process. When chosing the size of these numbers there is always a compromise between efficiency and future proofing. Usually the margin left by the designers is enough to last a while.

        However for long lived standards as the years pass that margin is eaten up. Eventually it reaches the point where all the margin is eaten up and things have to be redesigned . The most recent one we hit was that the conventional MBR partition table has a limit of 2^32 sectors (=2TiB assuming standard size sectors). Making things worse is the fact that MS refuses to support the combination of a GPT partition table on the boot drive with conventional BIOS booting so the motherboard may be able to see and access the large drive but it if doesn't support UEFI you can't use the whole drive as a windows boot drive.

        Afaict the next barrier we will hit is the LBA48 limit of 2^48 sectors (=128PiB assuming standard size sectors). So a 60TB drive shouldn't be any more problematic than a 3TB one.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Do you mean would PC manufacturers would design in arbitrary limits in their hardware and/or BIOS that would create some kind of "barrier", so that disks that are too big won't work with the system?

        This rerun from 2002 [slashdot.org] might interest you. A snippet:

        My old 400mz machine still plays all the new games, and with a little more memory would play them in XP (assuming I wanted to throw away another hundred dollars on a new OS I don't need). Plus, Becky's laptop is the first whole computer I've bought since

    • LBA-48 should be good up to 128PiB.
    • by AmigaMMC (1103025)
      Question is, how long would the data search be at first until a new indexing technology comes aboard?
  • by Zouden (232738) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:34AM (#39412535)

    "Seagate has strapped a laser to the hard drive head"

    Well, there goes my hopes for an intelligent discussion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:39AM (#39412573)

    MPAA says this will cost the entertainment industry billions of dollars every year.

    • by jd2112 (1535857) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:47AM (#39412651)

      MPAA says this will cost the entertainment industry billions of dollars every year.

      Trillions of dollars every day! Won't you think of the children of the entertainment company lawyers who may never see thier parent because they are working 24/7 too protect the poor defenseless movie companies and the billions of americans who will loose thier jobs for each of these drives that are sold!

      • The result of this is trillions upon trillions stolen from children*!

        (*After all, we are somebody's child.)

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        the billions of americans who will loose thier jobs for each of these drives that are sold!

        Well, I think industry should loose jobs, and lots of them. There are far too many people out of work these days. So yes, loose those jobs NOW! Unemployed people are counting on you to loose those jobs.

        Oh, wait, that's not what you meant?

    • This seems like a logically valid(please note, dear reader, the difference between validity and truth) deduction, according to the official MPAA-math axioms:

      1. All pirates have a willingness to pay equal to the MSRP for a given MPAA-member copyrighted work.
      2. All storage devices not sold filled with an MPAA-approved copyrighted work are intended for use by pirates.
      3. (Bonus Axiom of Choice): A content cartel hatchetman may, at his option, choose to replace "MPAA" with "RIAA" in these axioms.
    • Sure. Once you've picked up all of the older classic bits of content from Frys or Walmart for a song, then you can pretty much turn your back on the MPAA.

      I have so much stuff that I tend to forget the stuff that I have rented via Netflix. Never mind the cinema.

      Why watch the remake when the original is available and cheaper than one trip to the movies?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:41AM (#39412587) Journal
    "Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn."
    • by timeOday (582209)

      "Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn."

      Well, that's wrong, whether or not he believes it. Examples of massive datastores that are changing the world (for better or worse) are individualized advertising and government big brother systems. The Large Hadron Collider also has over 60 petabytes of disk storage.

      • by geekmux (1040042)

        "Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn."

        Well, that's wrong, whether or not he believes it. Examples of massive datastores that are changing the world (for better or worse) are individualized advertising and government big brother systems. The Large Hadron Collider also has over 60 petabytes of disk storage.

        Considering your examples here lean more towards the "for worse" side of changing the world, it's not helping the argument much. Personally, this is one scenario where hardware capability has FAR exceeded demand, so justification (especially on the consumer side) is questionable at best. Perhaps the (ex) CEO had a point here, regardless of how crass it may have come across.

      • I have to disagree with their CEO. I worked at Fermilab on the USCMS Tier-1 team for the CMS detector; we have ~5PB of spinning disk to stage/cache/buffer data between our cluster of data workers (~5K nodes) and our 50-60PB tape storage silos (each being the size of a school bus, and having 2-4 robotic arms racing around moving tapes from storage to drives).

        Not changing the world? Get out more and see where your product is in use; we used your drives brah!

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Ex-CEO. That was Bill Watkins, who was replaced in 2009 by Stephen J. Luczo. And for all the candor of that statement "pirate more crap" would probably be even more honest...

    • I do not think the average person would want to buy 60 terabytes of anything. Lets go with just a dime for a gigabyte since there are 60,000 gigabytes in 60 terabyte it would mean $6,000 to fill it. Lets look at the cheapest cost per byte which I think would be the blue ray movie. Lets say that one could get 25 gigabytes for just $10. That is very cheap today and it still $.40 a gigabyte or $24,000 for the 60 terabyte and $2,400 for the 6 terabyte drive. Even today, until we get the MPAA off our back a
      • I do not think the average person would want to buy 60 terabytes of anything.

        It wasn't that long ago when I was running a 286 with a 40MB hard drive. "No one could fill that" I thought... and it wasn't long until I did.
        Upgraded to a 486 with 200GB drive... Then I added an 850MB drive... "no one could fill that" I thought... within a few months it was full.
        The list goes on - 1GB, 6GB, 20GB, 40GB, 1TB. Anyone who thinks that people won't want 60TB drives at some point in the future needs to look carefully at the past - in a few years time, they will look as silly as the people who

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Just archive your iTunes video purchases over a number of years.

          Given that Apple's model is predominantly a "purchase" model, I am surprised this hasn't really occurred to most people. Do you really want to spend all that money and have nothing to show for it? Sooner or later you are bound to accumulate enough stuff where these larger drives become relevant.

          Such drives probably make more sense then expecting the "average consumer" to manage some sort of array.

  • Power? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quantus347 (1220456) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:55AM (#39412713)
    I wonder what the power consumption increase is if you have to strap a heating laser to the write head. Lately the market seem to reward Technology that trends toward less power usage, not more
    • Power? I'm guessing a little over nil if it is focusing on 1nm or smaller areas.

    • Re:Power? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @10:33AM (#39413125) Journal
      The power budget for the laser obviously isn't zero; but if you only want to heat a very small area for a small fraction of a second the total power required to achieve truly alarming "watts/meter^2" is surprisingly small.

      More broadly, Seagate probably knows as well as anybody(although certainly isn't happy about it) that the small-n'-low power market is basically lost for mechanical HDDs. Game over. They'll stick around in cheapie laptops because they are cheap, and in crazed-enthusiast DTR and workstation models because they are huge; but Flash is taking over the good bits.

      In those areas where Serious Storage Capacity still counts, the energy cost of having X platters and 2X heads fighting air resistance as they zip around at high speeds really starts to add up. If you increase the areal density of a platter, you increase the storage capacity of a given number of platters, allowing your customers to either reduce platter counts for a constant workload, or maintain constant platter counts under an increased workload.
  • by Grizzley9 (1407005) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:56AM (#39412721)
    Granted most of *us* can find something to fill it but when Dell and other bulk PC makers start including 1TB or 10TB drives in their basic PC's, most of it will still be unused by the general public. With higher MP cameras I can fill mine up with video and pics and a few converted movies/music. But with streaming options and so much available online or stored online for you, I just don't see the need to keep a ton of torrented movies and other files around taking up space and having to manage.

    The more space we have, it seems the more we keep. I can see a new show as a spinoff of "Hoarders" showing just what all is in your computers HDD.
    • With the recent crackdowns on behalf of the MAFIAA, and the uncertainty of cloud based storage (see the Jotform debacle [wired.com]) I think that the government is doing far more to advance "digital hoarding" than hard drive manufacturers and the ever-increasing size of hdd's.

      I have about 4 TB's of external storage, and I've filled about 2.7 TB's of it so far just with stuff that I could stream or re-download but just don't have enough faith that the ability will be there tomorrow. Outside of my personal documents (wh

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Granted most of *us* can find something to fill it but when Dell and other bulk PC makers start including 1TB or 10TB drives in their basic PC's, most of it will still be unused by the general public.

      Doesn't take many new games at 30GB a pop to fill up a 1TB hard drive. I thought 750GB would be enough for my laptop, but I've had to delete about a third of the Steam games and compress some of the others.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Lazyness. Why bother organize, backup and remove dead data when you can just keep throwing it all at that black hole of a hard drive? Even sorting stuff into suitable directories is almost redundant thanks to metadata and searching now, at least for media.

    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @11:41AM (#39413935) Homepage

      Granted most of *us* can find something to fill it but when Dell and other bulk PC makers start including 1TB or 10TB drives in their basic PC's, most of it will still be unused by the general public.

      Ridiculous. That same claim has been made over and over for the last 30 years, and proven wrong each time.

      • I don't think it's ridiculous at all when you are considering the general public, as the only thing they have to fill up space is bigger photos and video from their cameras. They use consoles for games and stream video from the net or services, if at all. What else is there that takes up tons of space? I manage many computers in my extended family and of course have seen numerous others. Sure we're now defaulting to 160 or 250 GB HDD's on cheap bulk boxes but most of that is never used. Esp now with u
    • I do my work from home some days with a VNC connection to work. It runs about 1.2Mbps when I'm busy (6-meg DSL).

      I see almost no reason why a home user should want to have a local hard drive, except perhaps to cache media files until the upload is done (in the background, and seamless working through the cache until the upload is done, of course).

      Give it a couple years and Google will offer free computers with free Internet connections in exchange for usage tracking. 70% of the population will take them up

  • by na1led (1030470) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @09:58AM (#39412751)
    I've noticed that the more storage you have, the more junk you fill it with. At my work, we have SANs with several Terabytes of storage, mostly filled with junk. When you have millions of useless files, it becomes a tedious task to search, and backup data. In the early days, there was a lot more cleanup of stored data, and only important files were kept on disks.
  • Don't get me wrong I love my SSD drives, but that tech needs to to start finding some way to move forward at a faster and a better $/GB..I guess its $/TB now :)

    • by gman003 (1693318)

      Look up racetrack memory on Wikipedia. If everything goes as planned, it'll actually out-perform SSDs (and even some DRAM) while having density comparable to hard drives.

      While I suspect it'll never scale to mass production at consumer prices, maybe I'll be surprised.

  • Look forward to 60TB cellphones!
    • by geekmux (1040042)

      Look forward to 60TB cellphones!

      Meh. I'm just looking forward to when people stop calling them cellphones, since using ones voice to talk into them is rare to find these days.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        I'm sure when phones became popular, people complained that others would write less... now that others write more, people complain that they talk less.

  • I am wondering what the downsides to such large density are: how fast can the laser be turned on and off? The longer it takes for it to fire the bigger the random write latency. Secondly, how long does such a laser last, can we expect 10 years from it? Thirdly, what does this mean for power consumption? More? Less? Fourth, on machines with write-heavy tasks would the drive heat up even more than they now do?

    Sure, 60TB storage sounds a lot, but I have trouble believing this thing is as wonderful as Seagate m

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The media heats and cools in 100-200 picoseconds; the laser turns on and off much faster than that. No addition to latency. Laser lifetime and reliability will be an engineering hurdle, but not a showstopper by the time a production drive is approved for release. The spot size of the laser on the media is much less than 100 x 100 nm (probably less than 50 x 50 nm) so the total heat added to the drive from the laser light itself is quite small. More heat will be added from the electronics, so thermal managem

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Lets add:

      What does this do to data integrity? Since the drive needs to be heated to flip a bit, does this mean that the data integrity of the drive will dramatically increase? If the laser goes out, does the drive become read only?

      If the drives work like it sounds like they do, even for current densities, this sounds like a boon for backups.
  • I have a lot of heat coming from my rig. This oughta work fine on it!
  • I recently did some calculations off Kryder's Law, and happened to keep the results. We would normally expect (based purely off regular continuous improvement) 6TB hard drives as early as next year, and 60TB hard drives around 2018.

    So, while this is undoubtedly an improvement, it's not exactly a revolutionary one. WD et al. are probably at similar stages, either with this technology or with some other technique.

  • by jones_supa (887896) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @10:26AM (#39413061)
    As the density increases, the size of a short-stroked partition will be physically smaller too, making the seek times shorter. :)
  • The good news is that if the laser fails, the data should still be available to read and copy onto a new hard drive. If the laser was needed for reading as well, I'd be wary of the reliability.
  • by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday March 20, 2012 @10:51AM (#39413337)

    As much as I love stories about X company being able to stuff Y capacity into storage device, the last few years have proven instructive.

    1) How about doing it and producing it in such a way so that it is cheaper, not more expensive than last year?
    2) How about making them at least a little bit reliable. I know you just want us to consume more and more of your drives, but lets get back to 5 year warranty's already. This one year BS is BS.
    3) Maybe rather than doing the R&D to find a 60TB HD you do the R&D to find a building lot not on a fscking flood plain?

    Thanks,
          From everyone that bought a HD in the last year or so...

  • This will probably get modded all to shit since i dont have a referance, but do you think this technology will actually hit the market?

    I remember back in the good old days of CD's, there was a company that created a new type of recording information to CD's using fluorescent lighting. They had a working model they presented at a technology expo, and it was all the rave saying how it will blow CD's and DVD's out of the water with the amount of storage capacity (they were able to get close to a hundred layers

  • What are the time implications of running FSCK or CHKDISK on 20TB NTFS or EXT4 ?

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