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Seagate Ships First Hard Drives Using Next-Gen Shingled Magnetic Recording

Dec 6, 2011
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Seagate Technology plc, a world leader in storage solutions, today announced it has shipped over one million drives using shingled magnetic recording (SMR). SMR is the next generation in storage technology and is critical for continued improvement in areal density (the amount of data that can be stored on a single disk) to support global growth in cloud and mobile usage. The SMR generation of storage technology is expected to power gains of up to 25 percent.

"With nearly 7 billion inhabitants on earth we are creating an astounding 2.7 Zettabytes of data a year and as such are rapidly approaching the physical limits of how much can be written on a single conventional hard disk drive," said Mark Re, Seagate's chief technology officer. "With SMR technology, Seagate is on track to improve areal density by up to 25 percent or 1.25 TB per disk, delivering hard drives with the lowest cost per gigabyte and reaching capacities of 5 TB and beyond."

The last technology transition, perpendicular recording, improved areal density by arranging the bits in a perpendicular fashion, thereby enabling narrower data tracks and read/write heads. Due to physical limitations read/write heads cannot become smaller. The most reliable option to improve areal density is to change the way data is written to the drive.

This is where SMR technology comes into play. A fundamental change to the architecture of the media, SMR technology rearranges the way data is stored on a disk by overlapping tracks- similar to shingles on a roof- thereby, increasing track density and improving aerial density. As a result of increased track density the amount of data on a single disk increases as does the overall storage capacity of a single drive.

"The HDD industry is experiencing Petabyte shipment growth rates greater than 30 percent per year while at the same time HDD areal density is improving at a rate less than 20 percent per year," noted John Rydning, IDC's research vice president, for hard disk drives. "Shingled magnetic recording technology is a solution that leverages existing drive architecture to help close the gap in these growth rates while at the same time providing a relatively simple yet economical path to higher capacity HDDs for many applications."

Importantly, SMR can improve reliability by allowing Seagate to use fewer heads and disks to achieve new capacity points. SMR also provides a better value by increasing storage capacity while utilizing the same disk and heads as drive configurations shipping today thereby, providing a more cost-effective approach to increasing aerial density.

For more information on Seagate shingled magnetic recording technology click here.

Dec 5, 2012
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Should this also equate to faster read/write speeds? be interesting if it does.
I highly doubt it. They can increase the density and the amount of data the HDD can hold, but I dont think they can increase the speed of the platters or heads much more without complications. 15,000rpm seems to be the limit.


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Jan 28, 2012
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Should this also equate to faster read/write speeds? be interesting if it does.
It's called the memory hierarchy. Computer architecture 101.
Apr 21, 2010
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If you require speed get an SSD, get huge capacity disks if you need t store large amounts of data.
We all know this, though I'm just wondering how much more speed can be squeezed out of HDD's some 3/4TB drives can achieve writes as high as 180-190MB/s (peak) nowadays which isn't bad, is there more to be had out of them?
Dec 1, 2011
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We all know this, though I'm just wondering how much more speed can be squeezed out of HDD's some 3/4TB drives can achieve writes as high as 180-190MB/s (peak) nowadays which isn't bad, is there more to be had out of them?
That's a good statement, I'm pretty sure that most computers out there still rely on mechanical storage and not flash based non-volatile memory. It would be nice to see this "majority" increase in speed, but I think the problem here is something else.
Most data centers will use mechanical storage as the back end, they are a means to holding and securing data. Before it hits the clients and terminals there is (at least now) a cache server something with an insane PCI-E based or large array of Flash based non-volatile memory. Because the fact is you don't need (or can't) to access your entire domain at one time. So in a sense the speed lies in SSD's, therefore the motivation to increase there performance. Mechanical drives are not speed they are space so the motivation to increase performance is not really there.
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NdMk2o1o is right, more density at same size = more data processing speed, why is the rest of the thread forgetting their history

or how about a modern example: http://www.legitreviews.com/seagate-desktop-hdd-15-4tb-vs-wd-black-4tb-hard-drive-review_2182/3

4 platter 5900rpm seagate is getting faster sequential speeds than the 5 platter 7200rpm wd, the density increase is beyond cancelling out the slower rpm

i keep wondering about reliability as these bits keep getting closer together
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If the gain was more than 25% in density it might be a good idea.

As it is, I don't see the big diff between 4TB and 5TB drives.

Also, I have a 500GB SSD I got for $320. Not sweating the size of hard disks these days.


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Should this also equate to faster read/write speeds? be interesting if it does.
Higher density = better read/write performance. It's not going to compete with SSD performance but a 1.25 TB/platter drive should read/write faster than a 1 TB/platter drive of equal RPMs.
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According to the link, Seagate expects to ship its first SMR hard drive in 2014. No word on what its capacity will be, but I'm not expecting it to be 5 TB after so many unfulfilled promises of finally breaking the 4 TB ceiling. Even if it's not 5 TB capacity, simply releasing a SMR hard drive would be the first realized step towards attempting that.


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Sep 3, 2013
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Higher density = better read/write performance. It's not going to compete with SSD performance but a 1.25 TB/platter drive should read/write faster than a 1 TB/platter drive of equal RPMs.
Read up on anandtech's overview of SMR:


Long story short, SMR introduces SSD like write amplification due to the way it overlays tracks, which require entire bands to be rewritten when updating data. So unfortunately (re)write speed should go down, not up.

Read_Update_Write for Hdd's = not cool.


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wont this backfire by leaking one tracks data to the other?


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wont this backfire by leaking one tracks data to the other?
I wouldn't think so. It's quite precise equipment. I have no idea if there's any error correction involved though, and if that would increase.