Western Digital has made a huge HDD breakthrough

10-Disk HDD Design
(Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital has unveiled its new 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR hard disk drives (HDDs) which are now being tested by select hyperscale cloud customers.

The reason the storage giant has been able to significantly expand the capacity of HDDs over the years is due to its ever expanding technology portfolio which includes its unique OptiNAND technology, energy-assisted PMR (ePMR), triple-stage actuator (TSA), HelioSeal and now UltraSMR.

Western Digital’s new ePMR drives leverage the company’s OptiNAND technology to unlock higher levels of capacity, performance and data resiliency. For instance, its new 22TB CMR HDD incorporates OptiNAND to deliver areal density on a 2.2TB/platter HelioSeal platform with ten disks.

While the average consumer likely doesn’t have a need for such a high capacity drive, cloud computing providers and other tech giants can use Western Digital’s HDDs to store more data in less space which could help bring down the cost of cloud storage services for end users.


By combining OptiNAND with proprietary firmware that leverages HDD system-level hardware advancements, Western Digital’s new UltraSMR technology introduces large block encoding with an advanced error correction algorithm that increases track-per-inch (TPI) to enable higher capacity HDDs.

The first HDD to use this new technology is the company’s new 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 UltraSMR HDD that features 2.6TB per platter and offers 18 percent more storage capacity. However, as cloud service providers are increasingly adding SMR to their datacenter roadmaps, the drive’s 26TB capacity could serve as a tipping point to accelerate adoption.

EVP and GM of Western Digital’s HDD Business Unit, Ashley Gorakhpurwalla provided further insight on the company’s HDD technology portfolio in a press release, saying:

“As a longstanding partner of the industry’s leading cloud providers, we understand their unique requirements in building next-generation cloud infrastructure and invested in several HDD innovations we developed alongside our areal density technology. Our intent with taking this development strategy was not only to address the capacity demands of the world’s largest cloud titans but to deliver on a roadmap that would also support the evolving economics of their data centers for decades to come. With ePMR, OptiNAND and now UltraSMR as the foundation of Western Digital’s HDD roadmap, our cloud customers can continue rapidly scaling their business by taking advantage of our innovations to lower their storage TCO.”

The 22TB Ultrastar DC HC570 HDD will soon begin volume shipments to the channel while the 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 UltraSMR HDD is set to begin shipping to select customers this summer.

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.