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Seagate ships 18TB HDDs, but breakthrough hard drives will arrive later this year

(Image credit: Seagate)

Seagate Technology has started shipping its hard disk drives featuring a 18TB capacity to select customers, and revealed that HDDs will be more broadly available later this year. But while 18TB drives significantly increase storage capacities of modern datacenters, Seagate has a more important launch set for the next few months, as it also intends to start commercial shipments of its drives based on heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). 

The importance of HAMR — a technology that has been explored for 66 years now — is fundamental as it is expected to enable hard with capacities of up to 80 TB in the coming years.

“We began shipping 18TB drives as part of our system solution in the March quarter, with shipments to select cloud customers and channel partners starting in the June quarter,” said Dave Mosley, CEO of Seagate. “We expect to begin ramping 18-terabyte drives within the calendar year, which aligns well with market readiness.”

HAMR incoming

As expected, Seagate’s first HAMR-based HDDs will feature a 20TB capacity using heat-assisted conventional magnetic recording without any ‘shingling’ and therefore these drives will offer predictable write performance. 

“We remain on track to begin shipping our first commercially available HAMR drives in late 2020 on 20TB capacities. HAMR technology will be the industry's path to achieving drive capacities of 30, 40, 50 terabytes and even higher. We plan to offer 20TB HAMR drives to customers on a limited basis and is part of our system solution to collect production and field data.” 

It is noteworthy that Seagate has been shipping 16TB HAMR drives to select customers for a while and to that end it already has quite some information how these HDDs behave in tightly-packed datacenters. As it turns out, the company wants to gather some more data about performance of the technology.

Sources: Seagate, SeekingAlpha