June 4, 2019
David Cardinal

Seagate Boosts Hard Drives to 16TB With New IronWolf and Exos Models

With the worldwide data creation predicted to grow from 33 zettabytes to 175 zettabytes per year by 2025, incremental gains in hard drive density are a bit like putting fingers in the dike, but they are certainly always welcome and provide some breathing room. Seagate has now packed 16TB into 3.5-inch form factor Enterprise-grade drives. According to Seagate, these are the highest capacity hard drives ever produced.

Exos for Data Center, IronWolf for NAS

Seagate is launching two versions of its new 16TB helium-based drives. Both share the 3.5-inch form factor and 7200rpm rotational speed but differ in some of the finer points. The Exos X16 HDDSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce is designed for general data center use. Along with that designation comes Seagate Secure, which allows for safe, secure drive erasure.

Seagate's new 16TB Exos hard driveThe IronWolf and IronWolf Pro 16TB versions are tuned with Seagate’s AgileArray firmware, providing NAS customers with optimal RAID performance dual-plane balancing, and support for workloads up to 300TB/year. The IronWolf versions also include rotational vibration (RV) sensors to assist them in providing consistent performance and quiet operation. Other than the model number and larger capacity, the detailed specs for the 16TB IronWolf versions are identical to their 14TB siblings.

By 2020 HAMR Will Push Capacities Further

Traditional magnetic recording technology has pushed drive densities to the limit. With very-high-capacity devices, it isn’t possible to write only the bits desired, so additional data needs to be written as well — impacting performance. With HAMR, the bit to be written is heated using a laser diode, so that it is easier to write, and can be specifically targeted. The result, when combined with surrounding helium helps power predictions of drives up to 100TB by 2025. We got a demo of HAMR drives at CES, but they won’t be available until 2020.

Price and Availability

Seagate has been shipping some of the Exos drives to some of its enterprise customers for several months, to ensure that they can pass muster running vendor qualification tests and performance benchmarks including sg3_utils and smartmontools. The Exos 16TB drives are now generally available for purchase at an MSRP of $629, with the IronWolf version selling for $610 and the IronWolf Pro version for $665.

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