This month the doctor tackles HDDs and SSDs, Ripping Woes, XP Drivers and many more
I just bought a WD Velociraptor WD1000DHTZ hard drive from Newegg. The performance of this drive is not what I expected it to be. I have an Asrock 870 Extreme3 R2.0 motherboard. When I bought this board on Newegg a year ago it was advertised as a SATA6 motherboard, but when I check the Asrock website it states that it is a SATA3 motherboard. Does the underperformance of my Velociraptor have something to do with this, or did I just expect too much?
Note: This feature was originally featured in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
In November, cloud backup firm Backblaze posted some detailed data on the life expectancy of hard drives based on the company's experience with over 25,000 HDDs. One thing Backblaze found was that evaluating such a thing is bit tricky for a number of reasons, though it was able to make some observations. As a followup, Backblaze has posted another blog that examines how reliable enterprise drives are compared to consumer drives, and the results are surprising.
Not a caching or hybrid drive, but a separate SSD and HDD
Today WD is unveiling a slick 2.5" hard drive it calls the Black Squared Dual Drive. Unlike previous 2.5" drives which featured either a spinning hard drive or an SSD, or the two combined in a caching setup, this model features two separate volumes that coexist peacefully in one chassis. It's designed to be a high-performance drive for those with single-bay devices, such as a notebook, SFF rig, or AIO. If you fall into this category, and can squeeze your OS onto a 120GB volume, Christmas has indeed come early.
Heat-assisted magnetic recording technology could increase HDD areal density to 4 terabits per inch
We've come a long way from when hard drives were measured in megabytes, and then gigabytes. Today the biggest drives are measured in terabytes, and while that probably won't change for a long time to come -- we're not quite on the cusp of the petabyte era -- owning massive capacity hard drives that dwarf today's offerings could be a commonplace practice in the next few years if Seagate's heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology lives up to the hype.
Whenever talk turns to the topic of hard drives, inevitably you'll find that some people swear by brand X while others will only buy HDDs from brand Y. Their reasons are often anecdotal, and usually influenced by a bad experience with a particular model or brand. A person may say something like, "Each time I've plopped a brand Y HDD in my home server, it's crapped out after a year, but my brand X drive is still going strong after 10 years!" Unfortunately, two separate accounts of HDD longevity can (and often do) contradict each other, but there are other problems that prevent a logical conclusion, such as the lack of scientific data. What's much more meaningful is an ongoing study of 25,000 hard drives.
Helium filled hard drives will find homes in cloud data centers
HGST just made every home consumer a little bit jealous today by announcing that it's now shipping the 6TB Ultrastar He6 hard drive to massive scale-out data center environments. For the time being, you can't head over to your favorite online vendor or local electronics store and pick up a 6TB drive with helium inside, but perhaps this technology -- and the resulting capacities -- will trickle into home user territory. In the meantime, these drives will end up being utilized by companies like HP, Netflix, Huawei Unified Storage, CERN, Green Revolution Cooling, and Code42, all of which are working with Western Digital's subsidiary to qualify the drive.
As long as hard drive makers keep making technological advances, these mechanical devices will maintain a capacious advantage over their solid state brethren. Wondering what the next thing in HDD design is going to be? Try helium. Turns out that helium is useful for more than making funny sounding voices and filling up balloons -- it's also the key to building bigger capacity HDDs (and no, they don't float).
We keep waiting for the day when solid state drives (SSDs) supplant mechanical hard disk drives (HDDs), and even though prices for NAND flash memory storage has dropped significantly in the past year or so, HDDS still offer more storage space for the dollar. Combined with notebook makers offering lower cost models, the demand for HDDs just keeps growing, and that's just fine by HGST.
Laptops are getting thinner with each new generation, and if that trend is to continue, component manufacturers have to step to the plate with slimmer parts. Toshiba seems up to the challenge. The company just unveiled its first two platter 7mm HDD series for notebooks. Toshiba's new MQ02ABF line comes in 750GB and 1TB capacities, both with a 5400 RPM spindle speed in a 2.5-inch form factor.
HGST, a subsidiary of Western Digital, today announced it has begun shipping its new Endurastar J4K320 family of single platter hard drives specifically designed for automotive infotainment and telematics markets. The J4K320 line represents HGST's sixth generation of automotive HDDs and offers the highest capacity for such drives at 320GB. These drives are also built to handle extreme and varying temperatures and altitudes, HGST says.