Storage Capacity, Performance: HGST Intros 10-TB Hard Drives, NVMe SSDs

HGST's He8 helium-filled 8-TB hard drive

HGST on Tuesday significantly expanded its storage offerings with the introduction of several new high-capacity hard drives, including the world's first 10-TB hard drive, and new flash storage hardware and software.

The adoption of a dual strategy of focusing on capacity-centric storage and performance-centric storage stems from staggering growth in the amount of data stored, which is expected to grow by 10 times between 2013 and 2020, said Mike Cordano, president of HGST.

"Unlike most things, data's value increases over time," Cordano said during a Tuesday press conference. "Data is the new currency of the data center."

[Related: ​Western Digital's HGST: Helium-Filled Hard Drives]

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HGST was acquired in 2012 by Western Digital, but is still operated as an independent competitor to its parent company due to the requirements of China's Ministry of Commerce.

On the capacity-centric side, HGST unveiled its Ultrastar 7K6000, which features up to 6 TBs using 1.2 TBs per platter, Cordano said.

The Ultrastar 7K6000 will be HGST's last "in-air" hard drive, as all future drives will feature HelioSeal, a technology that seals the drives and replaces air inside them with helium, Cordano said. HGST has said in the past that replacing air with helium, which requires new materials to prevent the gaseous element from leaking out, results in higher performance and lower power consumption vs. in-air drives because of the lower friction as platters spin in helium.

HGST also unveiled the Ultrastar He8, a new drive that combines HelioSeal with new PMR, or perpendicular magnetic recording, technology to create an 8-TB drive.

The company also said that it plans to offer a 10-TB helium-filled drive in the near future. It is currently in beta testing, Cordano said.

HGST is the second drive-maker to unveil 8-TB hard drives in the last couple weeks. Seagate on Aug. 26 said it started initial shipments of the world's first 8-TB hard drives, with general availability slated for the fourth quarter.

Capacity growth and the need to look at how to cut the cost of long-term storage is driving companies like HGST and Seagate to develop such high-capacity hard drives, said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder.

"Capacity is just crazy," Swank told CRN. "Everyone is talking about cold storage. If I were in the tape business, I'd be worried. Our SMB resellers are not looking at that much capacity yet, but our direct customers are talking a lot about capacity."

NEXT: HGST Introduces New Flash Storage Solutions To Boost Performance

HGST's SN100 PCIE drive featuring NVMe

All storage component manufacturers are following the cloud, Swank said. "These high-capacity drives are perfect for cloud environments," he said. "Tape was nice, and served this market for years, but now customers are looking at hard drives."

On the performance side, HGST is bringing together some of the technology it acquired in 2013, including flash cache developer Velobit; sTec, a developer of flash and DRAM memory, SATA and PCIe SSDs, embedded SSDs, flash storage devices, and flash storage and caching software; and Virident, a developer of PCIe flash storage cards and software.

Mike Gustafson, senior vice president and general manager of HGST and Virident, said during the press conference that HGST is expanding its flash storage business at a time when the SSD business in 2014 is expected to grow 43 percent from 2013 to reach $508 million, citing Western Digital data.

"In fact, over 50 percent of organizations have deployed flash in one form or another," Gustafson said.

To prepare for the continuing requirement for high-performance flash storage, HGST introduced PCIe flash, featuring NVMe, or non-volatile memory express, Gustafson said. NVMe is a new flash storage standard for accessing SSDs through the high-speed PCIe bus, replacing the nonstandardized approaches storage vendors have been using.

HGST also introduced a PCIe card, the Ultrastar SN100 PCIe SSD, which integrates Toshiba’s current MLC NAND flash technology. The Ultrastar SN100 series of SSDs, which are currently being sampled, will be offered as a half-height, half-length add-in card with capacities of 1.6 TBs or 2.2 TBs, as well as in a standard 2.5-inch drive form factor with capacities of up to 3.2 TBs, Gustafson said.

Also new from HGST is Virident Space, which uses Virident technology to connect up to 16 PCIe SSDs in a mirrored volume as large as 38.4 TBs in capacity across 128 servers.

Virident Space allows the capacity of those SSDs to be pooled, aggregated and shared, and lets new SSDs and servers be dynamically added to the fabric, Gustafson said. "Any server that joins the volume and the fabric has access to the volume," he said.

HGST also officially extended its flash storage joint development agreement with Intel. That agreement, signed in 2008, combines the storage experience of HGST with Intel's NAND, Gustafson said.

NEXT: Squeezing The Costs Out Of Archival Data

Swank said he is not surprised to see HGST talk about NVMe, given the release this week of Intel's new processors known as Grantley, which consist of the E5-2600 v3 and E5-1600 v3 processors.

"We're putting the new Intel processors in commercial storage solutions," he said. "Because of the Intel news, customers are actively talking about NVMe for the best performance."

HGST also is focusing on long-term, low-cost storage of archival data.

Dave Tang, senior vice president and general manager of HGST's Elastic Storage group, said that while 22 percent of data stored in 2013 was considered useful and valuable according to HGST studies, that percentage will rise to 37 percent by 2020 even as the total amount of data increases.

"That's because digital scientists are finding new ways to extract information from the data," Tang said.

Tang, citing IDC, also said during the press conference that over 75 percent of new cloud applications will be big-data-intensive, making it important to develop an active archiving strategy for all that data.

Toward that end, HGST unveiled its Active Archive Platform, which scales to over 10 petabytes per rack, Tang said. "I'll say it again, 'Over 10 petabytes per rack,'" he said, to emphasize the scalability of the platform.

The HGST Active Archive Platform decreases the total cost of ownership for customers compared to existing technology by increasing the density of storage by 500 percent, resulting in a much lower rack-space footprint, power consumption and cooling, Tang said.

In addition, HGST is partnering with AmpliData, a Milpitas, Calif.-based developer of software for managing object-based storage, and Avere Systems, a Pittsburg-based developer of hybrid cloud object storage technology, to develop solutions for the HGST Active Archive Platform, Tang said.

HGST's parent company, Western Digital, on Monday unveiled a $10 million investment in AmpliData. This follows Western Digital taking the lead in a July round of an investment in Avere.

Complete details about the HGST Active Archive Platform are expected to be released in early 2015, Tang said.