In the recent months, Seagate has made several significant announcements regarding the future of HDD technology and unveiled a number of important products. In particular, late last year the company has said that hard disk drives would continue to evolve in the following 20 years, implying that Seagate is exploring multiple technologies to improve capacities and performance of HDDs. Additionally, Seagate introduced the first shingled magnetic recording (SMR) based consumer drives for mobile PCs, which marks a significant milestone in the development of the technology.

The Evolution Continues, New Challenges Arise

While solid-state storage devices are evolving fast in terms of performance and getting more affordable every year, they are not going to match hard drives in terms of cost-per-GB anytime soon. Still, with economic feasibility in place, HDDs are poised to keep evolving with larger capacities and better performance. Throughout the history of hard drives, the evolution of HDDs has involved multiple factors, including materials (platters), mechanics (motors, arm movers, internal structure, and so on), read/record heads, controllers and firmware.

The keys to additional capacity and performance of HDDs have remained generally the same over the years: small pitches and narrow tracks as well as a high rotating speed respectively. The evolution of HDDs in the future will rely on platter density and new heads, as well as the compute capabilities of their controllers. The performance of HDD controllers in the coming years will matter more than ever.

For our coverage, we approached Seagate and spoke with Mark Re, SVP and Chief Technology Officer of Seagate, to discuss their plans to announce HDDs featuring other important technologies. Rather than a question/answer discussion, what follows is a culmination and expansion of topics discussed.

Sources and Recommended Reading:

Seagate: Hard Disk Drives Set to Stay Relevant for 20 Years
Hard Disk Drives with HAMR Technology Set to Arrive in 2018
Market Views: HDD Shipments Down 20% in Q1 2016, Hit Multi-Year Low

Seagate to Expand Usage of SMR
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  • Zak - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    Forget enterprise. I use 4GB drives as local backups and planning to go up to 6 or 8. Show me affordable 8TB SSD I can use for backup. Reply
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    8TB no, but I'm sure I can find you a few good 4GB drives :) Reply
  • cm2187 - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    WD Reds? Reply
  • cm2187 - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    Actually even cheaper if it is for backups: seagate 8tb archive drives. Reply
  • Samus - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    First off, GREAT article Anton. This is what AT is all about.

    I don't have a single HDD in my house anymore. Between 11TB on AWS and 800GB in OneDrive, it all comes down to the data centers which will all be using this technology.

    Meanwhile the 480GB SSD's that cost $100 running my PC's and laptop have made magnetic storage irrelevant for my consumer use, so who can blame Seagate for not targeting me?
    Reply
  • trivor - Thursday, July 07, 2016 - link

    What everyone seems to be missing it NASes for the home with LARGE MEDIA collections. When you're looking at 2 GB for DVD rips and 4-5 GB for Blu Ray rips you need Terabytes of storage for $30/terabyte (or less hopefully) that SSDs can't touch. Even for full Blu Ray rips (some people want this) you're still looking at only needing 50 Mbps without any compression and even a lossless rip with Makemkv will take it down to 20 GB and will easily stream from a NAS with any decent spinning drive. When SSDs which are currently around $200/GB (for a consumer commercially available drive) to compete with spinning drives (say 3 TB @ $94 for a Toshiba or 3 TB for WD Red @ $109) then we won't see much in the consumer space. Not to even talk about 8 TB drives for around $200-$250. We are a long way from the demise of consumer spinning drives. Reply
  • CaedenV - Thursday, July 07, 2016 - link

    No kidding! I love my SSDs, but they are not going in my Nas any time soon. I have 5 3tb drives in a raid 6...that would cost a mint in SSDs still. Maybe I'll get there eventually, but it is going to be a long time.

    Still, it is a sin to sell a pc with a hdd as a system drive these days. Really wish manufacturers would stop that
    Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    IBM showed us that magnetic storage can store a bit using as few as 12 atoms. That's far denser than any type of memory developed so far.

    http://www.wired.com/2012/01/ibm-scientists/

    SSDs will replace HDDs for most of the consumer market, but HDDs will stay around for bulk data.
    Reply
  • Cygni - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    It's 'ogre'? Is shrek around or something?

    Also if you read the article, you will see that this isn't exactly focused at the same market as enthusiast SSDs.
    Reply
  • Michael Bay - Wednesday, July 06, 2016 - link

    Tell that to 8Tb of media I have copying to the new HDD now. Reply

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