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World’s largest hard drive coming "within months"

Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC650
(Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital looks set to be first hard disk manufacturer to hit the 20TB barrier later this year with the release of the new Ultrastar DC HD650 hard disk drive within the next few months.

Little is known about the drive, but we do know that there’s nine platters, each with a capacity of about 2.22TB, a 5-year limited warranty and a 2.5M hour MTBF (mean time before failure) rating as well as SATA or SAS interface. The HD650 is likely to pack at least 256MB of cache, if not more.

The news comes almost four years after WD's subsidiary (HGST) unveiled the first 10TB drive. The HD650 uses helium gas to reach this capacity, along with host-managed SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording); the downside of which is that it requires system software modifications and is therefore not a drop-in replacements for traditional hard drives.

Seagate next?

Western Digital has yet to confirm pricing and whether these drives will be available in the channel. The bulk of these drives are likely to find their way to cloud and hyperscale data centers, such as those used by Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Alibaba.

Seagate has been relatively quiet since the 2017 announcement when it claimed that it has a 20TB HAMR-based drive on the market by the end of 2019 with drives bigger than 40TB available by 2023. With the fourth quarter of the year well under way, the countdown has begun for Seagate to deliver the goods.