Seagate releases 6TB hard drive, its fastest yet

Companies disses need for helium used by rival WD

Seagate has released its first 6TB, enterprise-class hard disk drive, which is 28% faster than its earlier 4TB drive and doesn't use helium.

6TB
Seagate's new 6TB enterprise-class hard disk drive (source: Seagate)

In related news, Seagate subsidiary LaCie announced today it is offering its 2big external drive with two of the new 6TB hard drives. The LaCie 2big comes with Thunderbolt 2 connectivity, a RAID controller, and it sports data transfer speeds of up to 420MB/s.

Western Digital became the first company to release a 6TB drive; that drive was also its first helium-filled model -- something the company sees as crucial for the future of high-capacity drives.

Western Digital released its hermetically sealed Ultrastar He6 drive in November, touting not only its capacity, but its power savings and reliability.

Seagate said it doesn't yet need to use the lighter gas, which reduces friction and heat. The company used the same perpendicular magnetic recording technology that it has on previous models, but it was able to increase areal density from 831 bits per square inch to 1,000.

"We didn't have to use helium to get to this capacity, and it's 25% faster than their helium drive," said Barbara Craig, a marketing manager with Seagate. "You can rest assured, when we need it [helium] we'll use it."

The new 7,200rpm, enterprise drive also has what Craig described as a "humidity sensor" that will allow it to continue functioning in humid environments.

Seagate's Enterprise Capacity 3.5 HDD v4 is aimed at cloud-based data centers, where near-line storage is king.

The new drive also comes in 2TB, 4TB and 5TB capacities and with either 12Gbps SAS or 6Gbps SATA connectivity.

As with its past enterprise drives, Seagate's new drive is self-encrypting with the company's Instant Secure Erase, which overwrites data multiple times for easy drive disposal or repurposing. The drive is also FIPS SED certified.

Seagate's "Super Parity" error correction firmware with RAID rebuild functionality is located on the drive's SAS controller, which improves data rebuild times after a drive error. Craig said a drive's data can be rebuilt "in hours instead of days."

Craig said the new enterprise drive can sustain 550TB in data writes annually -- 10 times the 55TB workloads that Seagate's best desktop drives can handle.

"This is the fastest-growing segment in the enterprise space," Craig said. "People today are still trying to use desktop drives for near-line storage applications."

While Seagate did not release pricing, as it sells most of its enterprise-class drives to storage array makers, Craig did say the drive will be the same price per gigabyte as the previous 4TB capacity model.

Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

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