Seagate's new 8TB drive: is it for you?

Seagate's new 8TB drive: is it for you?

Summary: Seagate has announced a new 8TB disk it's shipping to selected customers today with general availability next quarter. Should you care?

TOPICS: Storage, Cloud, Hardware

This is a bulk storage drive. Optimized for $/GB and total cost of ownership, not performance.

A slower and less costly interface - 6Gb/s SATA - implies a 7200 RPM drive. But one feature stands out:

. . . for archive workloads, it features multi-drive RV tolerance for consistent enterprise-class performance in high density environments.

RV is rotational vibration, a problem when drive seeks of multiple drives synchronize, generating high-frequency harmonics. Uncorrected RV leads to read and especially write errors.

No word on pricing, but a first quarter retail price is typically high. Expect ≈$500 before dropping online to $250 after 3-6 months.

The Storage Bits take

Congratulations to Seagate for upping the capacity limit. Drive capacity has been growing slowly for the last several years, hurting disks in their competition with fast SSDs. With this announcement capacity appears to be growing faster than the last 4 years.

This drive is clearly designed for the big cloud providers who need high density, not high performance. The latter market is owned by SSDs now.

If you use cloud services then yes, this is good news for you. Less-good news for vendors of on-premise storage, whose storage will look even less competitive after the next round of cloud price declines.

Comments welcome, as always. Do you need this at home or in your office?

Topics: Storage, Cloud, Hardware

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  • I don't know about need...

    But I could use 4 of them to replace the 10 data drives I currently have in my HTPC.
    • That was my first thought, too.

      This drive screams HTPC or media server. Digitally storing your Blu-ray collection takes vast amounts of storage. Editing HD video and RAW photos also require massive storage. Another use would be to backup a small network. I'm always glad to see larger hard drives released.
  • Do you need this at home or in your office?


    Just editing videos and pictures takes a ton of space, BEFORE you post them to the cloud. Also games and apps aren't getting any smaller. Mobile games/apps are getting better but still stink compared to full blown PC apps.
    Sean Foley
  • The HDD is all about storage these days....

    The Manufacturers have recognised this as it is inexpensive for a 64GB SSD now for booting the OS from and running apps.
  • Now there is a need for expanding the tape library

    for long term backup.

    Disks really suck for that.

    We should be at 500TB by now.. These companies stopped making bigger drives to cash in... now it is time to increase capacity. Making the same drives as 5 years ago... finally someone is jump starting it. Video takes up tons of space.. bandwidth isn't always available for streaming everything..

    While we are at it.. PLEASE increase the storage capacities of ALL devices.. iPhones with 256GB, 512GB and 1TB should be the norm by now. Why aren't they? Because Apple is charging the same price for cheaper components. period.
    • 500TB !!!!

      It is worth remembering it is only a little over 10 years ago when 20GB was considered large.
      • Large?

        I remember when 5 MB was considered large. And was physically large to boot.
        • Re: I remember when 5 MB was considered large....

          I remember those days too. I was using 20GB and the early 2000's for the benefit of younger users.
          • Re: I remember when 5 MB was considered large....

            My first PC was a clone 286 and had a massive 30Mb hard drive and I remember my first paying job was to upgrade the RAM on a similar machine from 1Mb to 2Mb and it cost the client over £200.
          • GB vs. MB

            I still have a 30 MB (yes. count 'em: All 30 Megabytes) HD holding a MS-DOS 3.3 oerating system. :)
      • re: 500TB!!!

        Remember Moore's law: 10 years = 1000x, so we should be seeing 20TB at least. We seem to have fallen off that curve :(
    • 500TB?

      Why not just demand we should be at 500PB? Have you contemplated at all the bit densities required to get 500TB in a 3.5" HDD?
  • Beats JBOD

    Yes I could see smaller NAS energy prices, why isn't this good?
  • Nothing like Stating the OBVIOUS

    Due to the fact a common clam could know the content of this article I call this supposed article a flat out advertisement.

    Nothing like author stating the OBVIOUS in order to get paid.
  • Wow! And NICE!

    I'm planning to replace 5 x 2TB drives with more capacity, but performance is not something I want to sacrifice. I hope this 8TB HDD inspires SSD makers to drive their capacities up and per-TB costs down. Ideally, I'd love to get a set of 4TB SSDs for about the same price as today's high-performance HDDs (e.g., Western Digital Black for about $250 for 4TB), even if they were no faster than today's high-end HDDs.

    I'm excited!
  • why is this bad for vendors of on-permise storage?

    Seems like this would make a similar opportunity for DAS/SAN/NAS makers as it does for cloud providers. Not to mention that those cloud providers are likely to be customers of those on-premise vendors, I doubt cloud storage consists of simply a bunch of HDDs piled in a room.
  • Throughput vs Capacity

    The biggest problem with these high capacity devices is that increases in throughput speeds have not kept pace with capacity increases.

    When I bought my first 10 MB hard drive back in the 1980s, it was very slow. But I could write a program that could fill the entire drive up with data in about 7 minutes. As each generation of disks comes to market, it takes longer and longer to read or write all the data.

    With 8 TB, even if you could achieve a sustained throughput rate of 200 MB/sec it would take over 11 hours to read all the data from it. Full backups; rebuilding a RAID array after a disk failure; or just synchronizing data with another device for redundancy now takes so long that it is problematic.
    Andy Lawrence
    • Bandwidth

      @Andy L.
      I appreciate what you are saying. But the imbalance of innovation demonstrates 2 things :-
      1. It is easier for a vendor to innovate within a specification than it is to get competitors to agree to a new one. Many proposed bus advances have struggled for broad market acceptance; ie: Thunderbolt, EISA vs MCA etc. Even successful, they require H/W upgrades & have much slower payback.
      2. We are pushing the boundaries of physics, in all areas. Storage density as well as reliably pushing bits over a wire, at commodity prices. Both need substantial R&D. Due to point 1 the ROI of a faster interface is not as appealing.

      You will note: Memory speeds have also not kept pace with the increase in CPU speed or storage density. Due to the same physics limitations.
      The breakthru you are wanting is unlikely to happen prior to the transition from electron to photon based comms interfaces.
      • Sorry, not quite

        Sorry David, you've unfortunately made the same mistake Andy has, sort of, by suggesting that this is an interface problem. It's not. We have interfaces that are far, far faster than SATA3. We don't use those for HDDs because there's no point - physical spinning iron can't transfer data anywhere near 600MB/s. SATA2 is quite sufficient for most HDDs still.

        If you want faster storage with HDDs, you use RAID (or some other system capable of parallelizing data access). You increase the number of platters (and the read/write heads within) and you increase performance. More platters in a drive usually also mean greater performance. Add lots of disks to an array and you get greater performance. Increase the data density and you get more tracks passing the read/write heads at a given speed (7,200rpm, in this case) so you have greater performance (which is why the new 6TB drives are the fastest HDDs now).

        How do you think SSDs achieve such high performance? Partly it is because the NAND cells can be written to fairly quickly, but mostly it's a factor of them having 8 or more parallel lanes with which to split data off to - SSDs using single-channel designs would be significantly *slower* than mechanical HDDs.

        So no, it has pretty much nothing to do with the interface standards - SATA3 is still quite fast enough for 7,200rpm HDDs (and you have SAS and fibrechannel if that's inadequate). The problem with performance is you're limited by the physics and the technologies involved. It's not even a major problem anyway - if you need greater performance, you have lots of options, whether they're RAID, SSDs, PCI-E SSD cards, PCI-E RAMDisk devices... It all depends on your budget and just how much you 'need' or can justify such a purchase.

        Sorry Andy, there's no magic bullet here - individual HDDs can take quite a while to transfer data. Adding cache and hybridising storage devices with NAND etc help in certain circumstances, but yes transferring 8tb on or off a single disk is going to take some (significant) time. If that's a huge problem for you, don't buy one 8tb drive, buy eight 2tb drives and a proper hardware RAID controller and you'll get 12TB, two disks of redundancy and a hell of a lot faster transfers. Or put them in RAID 10 and you'll still have 8tb but ~3.5x the transfer speed of one disk. Yay! Redundancy reduces the risk of data loss too, so lower likelihood you ever have to recover from slow backups. And yes, I realise just backing up 8tb of data is a big job in itself, but that's why you use software that only updates incremental changes to your data (so you have some chance of backups actually completing overnight).