Western Digital Launches World’s First 14TB Hard Drive

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You might recall a time not that long ago that a 1TB hard drive was considered gigantic. How far we’ve come. Western Digital has started shipping its newest and largest hard drive, the HGST Ultrastar Hs14. As the name suggests, this drive has a whopping 14TB of space. Not only that, it’s faster and more efficient than the 12TB drives Western Digital started shipping last year.

Like many super-high-capacity spinning drives, this device is filled with helium. The atmosphere in an SSD doesn’t matter because there are no moving parts, but ensuring the platters in a spinning drive (7200RPM in this case) can move smoothly is essential in high-density data storage. Helium creates less drag on the platters than regular air, so drives like the HGST Ultrastar Hs14 are hermetically sealed and filled with an atmosphere of helium. HGST (which is part of Western Digital) calls this “HelioSeal” technology.

This drive uses SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) on eight platters to reach this incredible capacity. Rather than being next to each other, the drive tracks are overlapping each other like shingles. That results in higher areal density. There’s more going on inside this drive than older drives, but HGST says it’s more efficient, consuming just 5.2W at idle and 6.2W during operation. That’s technically a bit more than the older 8TB helium drives from HGST, but it’s 60 percent less when you compare the wattage per terabyte.

You can get the Hs14 in both SATA and SAS configurations; the former supports standard 6Gbps data speeds and the SAS version can do 12Gbps. Both drives have 512MB of data buffer and a sustained transfer rate of 233Mbps.

The Hs14 is designed to run 24/7 for at least 2.5 million hours, making it ideal for enterprise and server applications. Not only will the price be outside the realm of consumer drives, it’s a host-managed device. Thus, you probably wouldn’t want to mess around with the HGST Ultrastar Hs14 even if you could afford one. Some of your data might end up on the Hs14, but only if a company uses them in a data center where your bits happen to be. Give it a few years, and this technology will probably trickle down into the more consumer-friendly Western Digital drives.

This is the current leader when it comes to storing a ton of data, but it might not be in the lead for long. Seagate has said it plans to launch a 16TB helium-filled drive in 2018. That could be followed up with a 20TB drive in 2020.

Now read: How do SSDs work?

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