Looking to back up some data? Scratch that — lots of data? Then you’re going to need a cutting-edge mechanical hard disk. No, these drives don’t perform like their solid-state peers, but that doesn’t mean research into the technology has stopped. Companies like Seagate continue to pour dollars into squeezing as many bytes into a disc as possible.
Its effort has paid off with three new hard drives offering five, six, and eight terabytes of capacity. The largest of this trio, despite its size, will be sold for just $260. That’s around three cents per gigabyte. By comparison, Samsung’s new one terabyte 850 Evo costs about 50 cents per gigabyte.
Seagate has branded the drives Archive HDD with the intent of selling them to anyone backing up extreme volumes of data. Performance is not a priority, so the drives spin at a leisurely 5,900RPM and can obtain transfer speeds of about 150 megabytes per second. Reliability is important, though, so the drive is rated for about 800,000 hours and has a standard three year warranty.
Archive HDD’s extreme capacity is made possible by what Seagate calls Shingled Magnetic Recording. That’s a fancy way of saying the space typically found between data tracks has been removed. Instead, tracks are allowed to slightly overlap. This works because the read head on the drive is smaller than the write head. Each resulting readable track is just large enough for the read head to recognize. The downside is that re-writing data becomes more cumbersome, which is why disks based on this technology aren’t speedy.
The drives are currently on their way to retailers and should begin to appear in stores around the turn of the new year. Currently we know that North American, European, and Asian customers will have access, but we know only the approximate price of $260 for the eight terabyte drive. That doesn’t mean the smaller drives will be less impressive, however; in fact, they may prove more practical. Even five terabytes will be more than most consumers need.