Seagate ships first 8TB hard drive

Just a few months after rolling out its first 6TB hard drive, Seagate has kicked up the capacity by 33%. The firm announced this morning that it’s now providing 8TB drives to “select customers.” These drives are the “world’s first” to hit that capacity milestone, according to marketing VP Scott Horn, and they won’t be restricted to an exclusive audience for long. Broader availability is scheduled for next quarter.

The 8TB monster uses a standard 3.5″ form factor and 6Gbps SATA interface. It’s targeted at datacenters, cloud-based services, and bulk data storage—and it has the rotational vibration tolerance typical of drives designed to slot into tightly packed servers. That’s pretty much the extent of what Seagate is revealing about the drive right now, though. The company declined to clarify the platter count, spindle speed, and whether the 8TB unit uses shingled magnetic recording technology. We were told that more details are due “in the coming weeks.”

The 6TB drive Seagate announced earlier this year doesn’t use SMR, but it’s hard to imagine a quick jump to 8TB without it. Unlike traditional recording tech, which puts spaces between individual tracks, SMR layers them on top of each other in a staggered fashion, much like the shingles on a roof. This overlap increases the bit density of the drive platter, but it can also slow write performance, since altering data requires that overlapping tracks be read and rewritten.

Last year, Seagate said that it had already shipped “over one million drives” based on SMR. We haven’t heard much about the technology since, but the new 8TB drive seems like a prime candidate for it.

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