Backup and 10TB Drives

Western Digital’s HGST group released today the Ultrastar He10 helium-filled 10TB hard disk drive.  It’s a 3.5″ 7200RPM drive that at least for now moves Western Digital ahead of Seagate.  If you’re interested in backup – not only PBBAs (Purpose Built Backup Appliances) but backup software as well as continuity – this is big news.

The high points of the Ultrastar He10 10TB drive are as follows:

  • It’s a helium sealed drive.  Helium enables the drive to spin with less air resistance and thus less power and less wear.
  • It uses 7 platters.
  • It has a 2.5 million hour MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) and sports a 5-year warranty.
  • It uses the typically higher performing PMR (Perpindicular Magnetic Recording) rather than the higher-density SMR (Shingled Magnetic Density) scheme.

If you’re a hardware and storage aficionado, you know that SMR has been used on other high-density drives but because it overlaps the magnetic tracks on the drive its best use case has been archival.  In modern continuity and backup, this is problematic since deduplication and instant recovery techniques can require higher IOPS (I/O Operations Per Second) – although for archive from a PBBA physical appliance with longer archive and tertiary restore windows SMR can work adequately.

Pricing isn’t generally available; but Ars Technica predicts that the Ultrastar He10 will cost about $800 – or about $80/TB.  With enterprise-level drives going from roughly $50/TB to $60/TB, this is a big premium.  It flies in the face of the claim that ExtremeTech said that Western Digital made “There’s no word on pricing yet but Western Digital says, somewhat unbelievably, that the 10TB drive will have the lowest cost-per-gigabyte and power consumption-per-gigabyte of any drive on the market.”

So when will Unitrends offer 10TB drives?  We’re always evaluating the latest drives – and we continue to do so with both 8TB and 10TB drives.  However, one of the primary factors for secondary (as opposed to primary) storage vendors is price per terabyte – and it’s my guess that we won’t see 10TB drives become competitive on per terabyte pricing until very late 2016 or 2017.

Have anything you want to talk about concerning 10TB drives and backup – or anything storage related?  We’d love to hear from you.


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