Western Digital plots to squeeze the tape market with massive archive HDDs

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Aleksandr Grechanyuk)

Western Digital could be preparing to take on the tape archive market using HDD technology as the company looks to solve the archive problem.

As reported by Block & Files which spoke with EVP and GM of the company's HDD business Ashley Gorakhpurwalla, businesses in the storage industry are considering adding another storage tier that will allow colder data and archive data to co-exist.

Typically companies have relied on tape storage as a means to store large amounts of data in the cheapest way possible. However, a new type of hard drive with more platters could present a compelling alternative to tape storage as it will allow data to be retrieved more quickly.

Given that Gorakhpurwalla spoke openly with Block & Files about Western Digital's archival data disk drive concept, it's likely that Western Digital and its customers have already begun discussing the idea.

11-platter HDDs

In a memory-to-tape hierarchy diagram, CPU caches and DRAM have the highest cost with the lowest latency followed by storage-class memory, SSDs, nearline HDDs and then tape at the very bottom. Archive HDDs though could be quite useful for business data that needs to be saved but doesn't need to be read often if at all.

Gorakhpurwalla explained to Block & Files that one of the ways that Western Digital and others in the storage business could create massive archive HDDs is by increasing the number of platters that make up a disk drive, saying:

“Think of a hard drive in a traditional sense, you know, the three and a half inch form factor with 9 or 10 platters [and] in the future 11 platters and … the [kind of] head stack that we have today. That’s a … combination of technologies and capabilities. Utilising … that toolbox then to go and be able to deliver a solution for different tiers in the datacentre … is part of our roadmap at Western Digital.”

By adding an additional platter, Western Digital could get a 2TB+ boost to drive capacity which would help when archiving large amounts of data. Although the company doesn't plan to launch 11-platter disk drives anytime soon, the idea is part of its roadmap going forward.

We've also rounded up the best NAS drives, best high capacity drives and best external hard drives

Via Block & Files

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.