Hitachi GST, Seagate Prep 4-TB Hard Drives For Market

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST), which is in the process of being acquired by Western Digital, on Wednesday unveiled its new 4-TB G-Technology drives in a demo of a two-drive, 8-TB RAID 0 solution at the IBC 2011 Conference, held this week in Amsterdam. The drives are expected to be available next month.

Seagate on Tuesday unveiled its new 4-TB GoFlex Desk external hard drive. It is already available direct from Seagate with a list price of $249.99, and is slated to be available from on-line retailers next month. The Seagate 4-TB GoFlex Desk external hard drive is available with FireWire 800 and USB 2.0 interfaces. Seagate has note released the drives as stand-alone drives.

Custom system builders welcomed the introduction of the new 4-TB hard drives, and said that the increasing demand for storing more data will ensure that high-capacity drives will be welcomed by customers.

Todd Swank, vice president of marketing at Northern Computer Technologies (Nor-Tech), a Burnsville, Minn.-based custom system builder, said there's always a demand for more storage capacity, as long as the price is right.

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The introduction of the new Seagate and Hitachi GST 4-TB hard drives, which are targeting the desktop and entertainment and media markets, brings up the question of whether corporate users are ready for them or would rather wait for enterprise-class drives, Swank said.

"Vendors' technicians say that if customers need RAID 0 or RAID 1, they need enterprise-class drives," he said. "But a lot of customers, if they want capacity, will use non-enterprise-class drives. A single RAID-edition drive versus two mirrored desktop drives -- the vendors say RAID-edition drives are better rated. But I believe two desktop drives in a RAID configuration are better."

Another custom system builder who preferred to remain anonymous said he likes the capacity of the new drives, but as of yet there is no information about how stable or reliable they are.

"That's the first question customers ask," the system builder said. "They want to know how stable the drives are for their applications. The big issues is how these drives will match customer requirements."

The manufacturer will also have to provide more information about the compatibility of the drives to their systems, he said.

"Which controllers and operating systems are compatible with the new drives?" the system builder said. "Are there any limitations? Also, will we need to update our motherboard firmware before using them?"

The appearance of 4-TB hard drives comes only about a year after the introduction of 3-TB hard drives, which until this week were the largest capacities available.

Seagate last Fall unveiled its first 3-TB hard drives, while Hitachi GST in January unveiled new 3-TB SATA drives with over 2 million hours MTBF (mean time before failure).