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Data Storage Technology

Seagate's Shingled Magnetic Recording Tech Boosts HDD Capacities to 5TB and Up 195

Posted by Soulskill
from the that'll-hold-a-lot-of-torrented-uhhh-linux-ISOs dept.
crookedvulture writes "Seagate has begun shipping hard drives based on a new technology dubbed Shingled Magnetic Recording. SMR, as it's called, preserves the perpendicular bit orientation of current HDDs but changes the way that tracks are organized. Instead of laying out the tracks individually, SMR stacks them on top of each other in a staggered fashion that resembles the shingles on a roof. Although this overlap enables higher bit densities, it comes with a penalty. Rewrites compromise the data on the following track, which must be read and rewritten, which in turn compromises the data on the following track, and so on. SMR distributes the layered tracks in narrow bands to mitigate the performance penalty associated with rewrites. The makeup of those bands will vary based on the drive's intended application. We should see the first examples of SMR next year, when Seagate intends to introduce a 5TB drive with 1.25TB per platter. Traditional hard drives top out at 4TB and 1TB per platter right now."
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Seagate's Shingled Magnetic Recording Tech Boosts HDD Capacities to 5TB and Up

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  • by Covalent (1001277) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:58PM (#44812711)
    ... for a significant reduction in speed?

    No thanks.
    • by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:01PM (#44812747) Homepage
      Only write speed, it sounds like. So storing one-write/many-read files might be a good use case; such as videos, photos, music, etc...
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        You still have to get the data on there. If that process is too bothersome when compared to alternatives, then us data hoarders may just pass on these drives.

        Plus, these drives will likely go for a hefty premium above and beyond smaller drives (like 4TB ones) that also perform better.

        They really don't need any additional reasons to dissuade potential buyers.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Pretty sure these will be marketed towards the write-rarely "backup/media dump" segment. At lower $/GB than a non-shingled 5.4kRPM.

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            It's not how frequently you're going to be writing to the drive but how much data you want to put on it when you do. Being unable to clone a drive WILL be a problem.

            You are trying to argue with precisely the sort of user you're trying to speak for.

      • This is all well and good, but couldn't just one manufacturer afford to set aside one measly manufacturing line for making 5 1/4 inch Hard Drives again?

        Here me out. Now that they are up to 1TB per platter with current tech on 3.5 inch drives just imagine what they could fit into a 5 1/4 inch drive now!!

        I know I wouldn't be the only one willing to shell out bux for one of those, providing they used all that space intelligently: With Data Spaces that large it would pretty much be a requirement to include buil

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          Here me out. Now that they are up to 1TB per platter with current tech on 3.5 inch drives just imagine what they could fit into a 5 1/4 inch drive now!!

          Umm, around 9.1 TB? ((Simply did 5.25" drive area / 3.5" drive area) * 4 TB)

        • Re:5 1/4 HD's (Score:4, Informative)

          by lgw (121541) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @09:06PM (#44815125) Journal

          There was once a "bigfoot" brand of HDDs that did just that. It was a disaster. It's unlikely anyone will try that again. You can just put 2 3.5" drive in about the same volume in your case, so why not do that?

          • One of the Compaq mid-tower lines used those drives. Quantum Bigfoot. I worked at Computer City at the time, and every time one of those towers came in for service, it was for a bad drive. It got to the point where we would see a customer carrying one up to the counter and we would tell him/her what the problem was before they even set it down.

            The really sad part was that for the first few months, we had to replace the defective drive with the same type because that's what the warranty dictated. After those

            • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:26AM (#44816703)
              They made perfectly good 5.25" Hard Drives for quite a few years before they went with the 3.5" and now the 2.5" format. The size of the platters isn't really the problem at the lower data densities that drives had back then. When you move to higher densities and "smaller bits" on the media, the bigger platters tend to vary in exact placement a bit more, both due to the distance they could have from the spindle and the basic fact that almost all solid materials expand as they get warmer. This means that you can't get spindle speeds as high with big drives, or you have to invest in a lot of technology and materials to keep the whole thing stable. That would make the drives too expensive, resulting in a price/performance trade-off that put the bigfoots at the wrong side of the curve. Also, because you can't counter all of the effects completely, data density would still be lower on the bigger platters than on the small ones. You could by some really crappy hard drives in the era of the bigfoots, but their capacity got superseded by reliable 3.5" drives in less than 12 months at the same price point, so Quantum figured it was no use investing in the product line pretty fast after they introduced them.
        • Re:5 1/4 HD's (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @09:18PM (#44815185)

          As I understand it, one of the big reasons for moving away from 5.25" toward 3.5" and smaller is because of the need for faster and faster seek and read/write times. They had already made the bus path from head to CPU pretty fast, after that, the low hanging fruit for further gains was to simply make the disk(s) spin faster. After all, you can't possibly send bits on the wire faster than they spin past the read head. Problem is, spinning the larger 5.25" platters faster a) sucks back a lot more power than their smaller brethren. b) more power means more heat==shorter MTBF c) increased vibration increases read/write errors. (a problem exacerbated by ever-smaller magnetic domains)

          Another reason of course is that the smaller package just makes so much sense at the end user level as well. Smaller portable consumer devices, more drives per rack etc

          Finally; selling 5.25" drives in a world of 3.5" and smaller has been tried. "Quantum Bigfoot" [wikipedia.org]

          • by Khyber (864651)

            That's why we say fuck magnetic media and cram SSD tech into that 5.25 form factor.

            And make it a hot-swap bay.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Here me out.

          Wear you out?

          • by 7bit (1031746)

            Here me out.

            Wear you out?

            Well, that depends. Send me a pic. ;) (Yes, I know I misspelled "Hear". :P)

    • by pwizard2 (920421)
      How much of a speed reduction are we talking about here? If it's a few seconds slower, I can live with that--I'd rather have more space.
    • by sjames (1099)

      It could be fine for some applications, especially with an SSD cache. For other uses, not so good.

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      For something like DVR recordings, I don't need the speed, and just want the space.. So it could be a reasonable tradeoff.. I didn't see how much of a difference it would make in cost.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    rewriting data compromises data on the next track, which needs to be read/written, which compromises...
    So you need to rewrite the whole damn 5TB disk?

    "higher bit densities come with a penalty"
    That sounds like an understatement.

    • TFA says they've limited the overlap to prevent the need to rewrite the whole disk. Only the three-track segments, which do not affect the tracks beside the trio.

      That said, I won't be an early adopter on this one. We'll see how it pans out in the real world before I consider deploying this.

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      that is where they got the name,... it runs down your platter like shingles down your torso. What you pictured a roof?

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      So you need to rewrite the whole damn 5TB disk?

      You failed to read even the summary?

  • by arbiter1 (1204146) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:11PM (#44812877)
    A road map from WD has them putting 5tb drives on the market around ~nov-dec this year http://image.torrent-invites.com/view.php?filename=997wdred2013.jpg [torrent-invites.com] http://image.torrent-invites.com/view.php?filename=935wdgreen2013.jpg [torrent-invites.com]
  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:12PM (#44812883)

    People will just blame Windows for the sluggishness.

    • The sad truth is that these days I usually blame Linux for the sluggishness. :/ Well, not the kernel, but the desktop.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes I wonder if they already have the technology to make 50 or 100 tb drives and they are just trying to keep their profit margins up by incrementally increasing storage at a fixed rate every year.

    • by raymorris (2726007) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:20PM (#44812969)

      Yep, they've had it since 2004, when all twelve of the drive manufacturers agreed to just sit on it while Western Digital kicked their butt in the marketplace. Nine of them went out of business rather than reveal their secret.

    • ...they already have the technology to make 50 or 100 tb drives

      Stored in a secret Area 51 bunker staffed by Brent Spiner.

    • by MiniMike (234881)

      They have the technology, but it's limited to write-only drives.

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      Seriously, I don't think so.... In fact, from every indication, they're all really struggling to find increasingly creative ways to cram more magnetic data on a given amount of platter space, and reliability is probably suffering.

      I don't have proof, but MANY people I know who are in I.T. and work with large capacity drives every day will tell you it's their observation that SATA drives became less reliable when capacities went over the 1 to 1.5TB mark. The 2TB drives all started using the newer "perpendic

      • by dbIII (701233)
        I've lost a pile of 2TB Seagates recently as well, with little trouble from other brands other than those 1.5TB green WD drives that seemed to all die within a few months. Other WD drives seemed OK, but close to 100% mortality on around ten or twelve of that model.
        Meanwhile the only 1TB drives I've lost were getting a bit old anyway and had a pile of ECC errors on the way out as a bit of a warning.
        I'm impressed with BSD and ZFS - I'm getting surprisingly high performance out of even IDE drives on 32 bit "n
  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:14PM (#44812905)
    I switched to SSD technology and I'm never going back. Yeah ok there are no 5TB drives yet. And 1TB is still insane. But 512GB is almost affordable, 256GB certainly is. If I need more storage, I'll just keep buying more. And eventually the price on the large drives will also come down. Sorry Seagate, the game is already over except for very specialized, very niche storage roles.
    • Yeah, at this point I only use regular hard drives for backups and networked media storage. No point in spending lots of money on SSDs for that just yet.
    • Re:Not going back (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:31PM (#44813103) Homepage

      Yeah. Buy storage in 256G chunks.

      That makes as much sense as someone getting giddy over how large of an array they can make out of 10 year old hard drives. It will be unnecessarily complex and resemble some sort of Rube Goldberg machine.

      Large drives are hardly a "niche" use case.

      On the other hand, there is a very wide gap between what expensive SSD can reasonably deliver and what much cheaper spinning rust can manage. Spinning rust can manage a wide range of use cases.

      It's SSD that represents the niche: small data for very casual users that don't do much of anything.

       

      • by Dunbal (464142) *
        I don't think you've seen how thin SSD drives actually are. As for what it can manage, failure rates are down now and just about equivalent to platter hard drives. You do realize that those can fail too, right? And for the rest of "management" well it stores info, which is what I want it to do. And it does that and reads it very, very quickly. If you compare the price of an SSD to the price of a regular hard drive you're doing apples to oranges. Go ahead and compare them to one of these ultra-pimped high RP
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196)

          I know how thin SSD drives are. I have some. Although I realize their limitations. I just don't swim in the kool-aid or act like some sort of tech fashionista.

          It's good that you mention drive failures because spinning rust gives you some warning. It makes it easier to prepare rather than just being surprised suddenly.

          The cost difference also makes it more likely that you have some degree of protection either from array redundancy or extra copies of the data.

          Not going out of your way to waste as much money a

      • Re:Not going back (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LordLimecat (1103839) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @06:31PM (#44813897)

        512GB hits the use case for probably 95% of consumers (based anecdotally on backup sizes and harddrive capacities for ~3-400 friends, customers, family, etc).

      • by Trifthen (40989)

        On the other hand, there is a very wide gap between what expensive SSD can reasonably deliver and what much cheaper spinning rust can manage. Spinning rust can manage a wide range of use cases.

        It's SSD that represents the niche: small data for very casual users that don't do much of anything.

        If this were even close to true, large corporations would not use NVRAM technologies to back their incredibly critical data stores. That "spinning rust" in a mid-sized 8-drive RAID-10 array can deliver roughly 2000 oper

      • by dbIII (701233)

        That makes as much sense as someone getting giddy over how large of an array they can make out of 10 year old hard drives

        Which actually does make sense if you want a freebsd zfs test rig and actually want a few disk failures to see how you can handle them instead of finding out the hard way on the important stuff. I get that your point is about daily use though.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well if you're happy with 256GB storage total, but you can get a 128GB SSD + 2TB HDD for the same money. If streaming covers all your needs then good for you but heck my Steam directory full of 10GB+ games alone would give it breathing issues. I think they do damn well in pairs, just checked and I'm still looking at a 16:1 price advantage (250 GB SSD ~= 4 TB HDD). Personally I just love the ability to have near infinite space for a few bucks, you can be a digital hoarder and still have it fit a mid size cab

    • How do you store the last ten years' of photos you've taken, or your music collection?

      The first two days of my child's life is enough raw video data to seriously dent an SSD all on its own.

      I use an SSD for booting, but my primary filesystem is all spinning platters. With modern caching options (on Linux and Windows at least), you can get very near SSD speeds on frequently accessed files using a huge hard drive as your data store anyway.

  • I have to seriously question the retention reliability of a device that requires re-writing multiple tracks at one time.

    The performance impact is obvious as well.

    I think I'll avoid these like the plague until they're proven to be as reliable as older technology.

  • by boorack (1345877) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:33PM (#44813127)
    Except for some corner cases ? Given that Samsung also learned how to stack their NAND flash and CrossBar technology is almost there ? Traditional disks are almost dead at this point. Relatively high price of SSDs is the only thing that keeps them alive and price is going down fast. 4TB 3.5" SSD drives are already available and 2GB 2.5" drives are certainly possible (if SSD controllers are capable of handling such capacities). Any significant breakthrough in sold state storage technology (vNAND, CrossBar, anyone ?) makes SSD advantages only bigger and there seems to be a lot of room for improvement in this pretty much like in HDD technologies 15 years ago. My bet is that SSDs will take over traditional HDDs in all aspects (including price) in less than 5 yars.
    • by slaker (53818)

      Spinning disks are only dead if you have no bulk storage needs, unless you think prices are going to fall through the floor out of the kindness of NAND Flash manufacturers' hearts.

      There's a single chassis in my closet that has 96TB of disks in it. That kind of density is utterly unthinkable on flash memory.

    • Traditional disks are STILL about 10x the capacity and 1/10th the price-per-capacity of SSDs, as they have been since they arrived. Price-per-GB for SSDs has come down, but so has price-per-GB of mechanical drives-- currently you can get a 3TB drive for ~$100, while a 256GB SSD costs around $200-- thats 8x the cost for the SSD.

      • by Trifthen (40989)

        8x the cost, but 100x the performance. There's a reason so many system builders are using an SSD for the boot/OS drive and critical applications, and a regular HD for long-term storage.

        That hybridization is the first step to totally deprecating hard drives, or relegating them to the same fate tape faced so many years ago.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Reality check. Tape died because it stopped growing in capacity anywhere near fast enough to keep up with disks. Not because it was too slow. That in no way whatever bears on the disk situation now. When and if it ever does, and it just might (since this story makes it clear just how they are scraping the bottom of the barrel and not coming up with anything worthwhile for advancing disk tech), then at that time we can talk about disks dying. Disks are going to far outperform ssd's in GB/$ for a long time to

          • Tape didnt die at all, its right where we left it (in the server room).

            Call me when HDDs come anywhere close to the price / capacity of an LTO5 cartridge (~$30 /~3TB), or their archival life, or their durability; or have anything resembling a modern tape library in terms of media management.

            I dont think tape is going anywhere in terms of archival storage, any time in the near future.

      • by rolfwind (528248)

        Traditional disks are STILL about 10x the capacity and 1/10th the price-per-capacity of SSDs, as they have been since they arrived.

        We don't have 10 years of history of SSDs, but we do have of flash which are obviously closely related. 10 years back:
        Slashdot comment system for Drupal [mukhsim.com]

        Flash at around 128MB @$50. [archive.org]

        And HDD at around 160GB @150. [archive.org]

        Today it's flash around 128 @$55. [newegg.com]

        And HDD at 3TB @$150. [newegg.com]

        1024x increase in flash for the same price point. 18.75 increase in HDD capacity for the same price point.

        I decided t

  • For some workloads these things will create nothing but problems. And all that for a 20% density increase? Sounds quite stupid to me.

    • by slaker (53818)

      The current "Green" drives from WD and Seagate already create nothing but problems for certain workloads, but they're extremely appealing for one-off modest-density needs that are probably appropriate to most consumer applications.

  • >Seagate has begun shipping hard drives based on a new technology dubbed Shingled Magnetic Recording....We should see the first examples of SMR next year, when Seagate intends to introduce a 5TB drive with 1.25TB per platter.

    These two things don't match.

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @06:13PM (#44813663)
    The read-modify-write penalty for overwriting existing data in-place is huge (even with attempts to minimize it with smart block mapping) and not worth the very minor increase in areal density. It's a bad sign that the storage industry was forced to adopt this because it means better encoding technologies are further off in the future than originally anticipated. Brick wall.
    • by erice (13380)

      The read-modify-write penalty for overwriting existing data in-place is huge (even with attempts to minimize it with smart block mapping) and not worth the very minor increase in areal density. It's a bad sign that the storage industry was forced to adopt this because it means better encoding technologies are further off in the future than originally anticipated. Brick wall.

      If it means that rotating media no longer has a write performance advantage over flash, then it is a very poor compromise indeed.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        If it means that rotating media no longer has a write performance advantage over flash, then it is a very poor compromise indeed.

        What is this, 2008?

        Rotating media hasnt been competitive in write performance for quite awhile now.

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        You mean like the bargain-bin SSDs that have almost 500MB/s of write performance.
  • I'm glad to see that unlike some other well-known technical blogs, Slashdot has pushed aside new revelations about our Police State to pass along important product roll-out press releases from the biggest tech companies.

  • But if you edit a single point in the first layers of the hard drive, you have to re-write your entire hard drive down? What happens when the power goes out before you're done writing? Does it rewrite entire tracks or just the magnetic domains that are compromised? How does it even know certain tracks have valid data or will it require a proprietary driver to make it work?

    • by Bengie (1121981)
      Just use a COW FS and set your cluster size to that of whatever these "shingle groups" are. :-)

      Or ZFS
  • I may not want this because I see TV commercials all the time that say that I can get Shingles already if I've had the Chicken Pox. Supposedly there's a med that I can use to get rid of it or prevent it.

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