Hard drive makers only recently began announcing 5TB capacity HDDs, but it looks like LaCie will be the first one to bring 5TB of external storage to market. LaCie announced today the availability of 5TB (7200 RPM) hard drive capacities in its 5big Thunderbolt, 2big Thunderbolt, and d2 Thunderbolt series of external storage solutions. And in case you're wondering, the answer is yes, the 5TB capacity LaCie is touting comes in single-drive configurations.
Newest NUC boasts support for a single 2.5-inch drive
Intel has its eye on the mini PC market with the introduction of its Next Unit of Computing (NUC) systems, though a limitation of early run versions is that they all used mSATA solid state drives. That in itself isn't a deal killer (though mSATA may not be long for this world), but what did cause problems is having the Wi-Fi card plopped right on top of the mSATA SSD. There were several reports of Wi-Fi issues with first run models (which is something we observed ourselves), possibly as a result of overheating, but with the newest NUC kit, Intel added a 2.5-inch drive bay.
Ranking the most and least reliable hard drive brands
Cloud backup firm BackBlaze has posted some interesting data over the course of the past couple of months, including one in which the company talked about estimating the life expectancy of hard drives. Turns out such a task is tricky business even for a firm that keeps over 25,000 HDDs spinning at all times. BackBlaze also posted data suggesting that enterprise drives might actually be less reliable than consumer HDDs, but neither study really answered the question the company is most frequently asked -- which drive should a consumer buy? If failure rate is the only concern, BackBlaze says Hitachi is the most reliable HDD brand around.
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.
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.