Seagate speeds up data access on its hard drives, but they won’t match SSDs

Despite the falling prices of flash-based solid-state drives and their rising presence in desktops and laptops, hard drives aren’t completely out of the picture. They offer extremely large capacities at an affordable price, but their read and write speeds fall extremely short. Seagate plans to address this issue with multi-actuator technology.

On their simplest level, hard drives are similar to old-school record players, only they can write to the medium as well. Hard drives contain several magnetic, spinning “records” that hold your data, and are accessed by arms with needle-style readers on their ends. These arms typically move across the platters simultaneously, but Seagate’s multi-actuator technology now divides them all into two separate groups.

“With two actuators operating on a single pivot point, each actuator will control half of the drive’s arms. Half the drive’s recording heads will operate together as a unit, while the other half will operate independently as a separate unit,” Seagate said. “This enables a hard drive to double its performance while maintaining the same capacity as that of a single actuator drive.”

In an illustration, Seagate shows eight spinning platters complemented by eight arms, each with their own read and write heads (needles). All eight share the same pivot point, but the top four are moving separately than the bottom four. Data is read and written at a faster rate because Seagate’s new design doesn’t perform these operations in a single wave, but rather in two using a leapfrog-type fashion.

Seagate’s multi-actuator technology focuses on the hyperscale data center where hard drives are still the major source of storage due to their low cost and extremely high capacities. But they’re not exactly fast when compared to solid-state drives using the same storage device connector. How this new technology will improve access times versus using the standard data center-focused hard drive still remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, the old-school SATA 3 connector used by bulky hard drives and 2.5-inch solid-state drives will always bottleneck performance. It’s capable of moving data at up to 600MB per second, which you will never experience although 2.5-inch solid state drives can come close. Hard drives with platters that spin up to 7,200 rotations per minute (RPM) can reach up to 160MB per second, and those that spin at 5,400RPM are even slower.

In theory, Seagate’s new technology should double the maximum data movement speed of hard drives. But the new design likely isn’t just locked to splitting the arms into two separate groups: The company likely needed a new controller that can split data into two groups of platters while keeping all that data “together.” In other words, instead of saving your photo to the hard drive in one long stroke, its painted onto the platters in two small, faster strokes.

Seagate also said it developed a new heat-assisted magnetic recording technology (HAMR) to pack even more storage. This tech will appear in its Exos hard drives in pilot volumes during 2018 followed by a full release in 2019.


Western Digital’s $55 solid-state drive gives new life to your aging PC

Western Digital is hoping that you'll pick up one of its affordable WD Blue SN500 solid-state drives to give your aging PC more storage and a speed boost. WD's NVMe-based drives are up to three times faster than older SATA SSDs.

Get the best of both worlds by sharing your data on MacOS and Windows

Compatibility issues between Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOS may have diminished sharply over the years, but that doesn't mean they've completely disappeared. Here's how to make an external drive work between both operating systems.

Shift it yourself: How to drive stick in a manual transmission car

Driving a manual transmission car might seem intimidating at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think. Knowing how to operate this type of gearbox will serve you well. Here's everything you need to know to learn how to drive…

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.

Here are the best affordable monitors for your budget desktop

Looking for the best budget monitors? These monitors are affordable, but still provide the features you need for gaming, work, home or other plans! Take a look at the displays and your wallet will thank you.
Product Review

The Lenovo Legion Y740 brings RTX 2080 graphics power for under $2,500

Coming with the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, the Legion Y740 one big beast. But priced at under $2,500 how does Lenovo’s Legion stand up against the crowd?

This limited-time Dell deal cuts $330 off the price of the XPS 15

Dell is currently running a limited-time sale that is cutting the pricing on the XPS 15 down by $330, but only through Thursday, March 21, and with the use of a special coupon code. 

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.

If you have $5,200, Apple has 256GB of RAM for your iMac Pro

Professionals looking to run intensive applications will be able to push their work a bit further with Apple's latest iMac Pro, which holds 256GB of DD4 ECC RAM for $5,200. Here's why it costs so much to upgrade your iMac Pro to the top.

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.