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More Density in the Data Storage Market

By Henry Newman

A spate of data storage announcements demonstrates that businesses are seeking higher density storage.

Over the weekend I was thinking about all the storage announcements recently. Seagate started it and announced an 8 TB drive. Not to be outdone, WD/HGST announced a 10 TB drive, LTO consortium announced LTO-10, and Hitachi announced double sided Blu-ray, which of course doubles density.  All of this in 2.5 weeks time. 

It’s clear to me that this was no coincidence in terms of development but the timing might be somewhat of a coincidence.  It’s my opinion that there are three important takeaways from these announcements.

Take Away 1

People want more storage because if they did not, the vendors in these three different market segments (disk, tape and Blu-ray) would not have spent the billions of dollars to develop new higher density storage.  Clearly, the market for greater storage density is required, and that should not be a surprise to any of us who run storage systems. 

Take Away 2

We are not in a situation where disk storage exceeds tape storage density. For those of us that use tape, this is not good.  The largest enterprise tape is Oracle at a maximum of 8.5 TB and we now have 10 TB drive drives.  LTO-6 is far be behind at one-quarter of the density of largest enterprise disk. And though LTO has greater reliability it is a concern as the current published performance specifications for the 6 TB Seagate disk drive (the HGST 10 TB and Seagate 8 TB are not published) is 216 MB/sec, which far exceeds uncompressed LTO performance and approaches the performance of enterprise tape. 

Now this of course is for cylinders so the average performance is more likely around 172 MB/sec, but using historical numbers, the performance is increasing about 20% per generation. So expect the 8 TB drive to have an average performance of around 207 MB/sec, uncompressed, of course.  

Take Away 3

Archival storage technologies are growing but not nearly as fast (currently) as disk storage. These technologies seem to go up in larger increments, but disk storage is now ahead and that did not used to be the case. 

These are my observations. I’ll be watching closely for next moves.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

  This article was originally published on Wednesday Sep 17th 2014
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