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Any news on 600GB harddiscs?

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Is there any news on 600GB discs? It's over a year ago scince Hitachi broke the 500GB capacity limit for single harddiscs. Is 600GB discs just around the corner or do we have to wait another 6-12 months for it?

When will 2-platter 300GB discs become the best value option? (Most GB for the buck)

Why has disc capasity hardly been increasing the last years? About 5-10 years ago the size increased about 50% every year.

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Why has disc capasity hardly been increasing the last years? About 5-10 years ago the size increased about 50% every year.

It's a combination of technical difficulties and less demand for pure capacity. In terms of sheer volume, 80 GB drives are probably the biggest sellers. Considering this, there isn't much sense in investing money in pushing the areal density envelope when there is more benefit making a cheaper 80 GB drive.

For about a year or two, areal density was increasing at 120% annually, a breakneck pace no one could keep up for long. There is always going to be demand for more storage, but until the average consumer wants (and needs) 500 GB and larger drives, there will be much less incentive to produce them.

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Harddisks have since mid-80s increased with about 50% per year. A pace that has lastet about 20 years in the industry. In my opinion a pace that is proved long term sustainable and economicaly. I understand an increase of a wopping 120% per year is too much to keep up with in the long term, but a dissapointing 0% since last february is a still standing. I dont expect en increase of 120% annually, but it would be nice if there was an increase at all. Even if 50% is much, i would be glad for a minor 30% increase. 30% is better then nothing.

I regularly see people buying two og four 250GB harddiscs in stead of one or two 500GB. Isn't it much cheaper for the producers to just add a couple of platters to a 250GB-disk then to make a complete new drive?

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I think it has more to do with supply and demand and less with what it costs the manufacturers. There are more suppliers of 250GB hard drives than 500GB. Therefore there is less supply of 500GB drives and the price goes up.

Also, even with 4 suppliers of 500GB drives, there may be some problems yeilding these monster drives and this would also lead to a shortage.

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600GB... not for a while, I'm guessing. It's supply and demand as others have noted, and even in the largest applications we run now (4 to 24 drive SATA RAID setups), most customers tend to top out around 400GB drives due to cost reasons. Many are slowly going to larger drives, but it is not an immediate process, particularly as hardware validation tends to be an extensive, drawn-out procedure.

Edited by continuum

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I wish the next new drive size would be 640GB, not 600GB. It's more logical because of:

1) drive sizes increasing is more like on logarithmical scale, the step must be bigger at the end of 1-10

2) even with today's linear steps we get: 80, 160, 240(250), 320, 400, 480(500), 560, 640, 720, 800

3) 640GB decimal is 596GiB binary, so just this can be seen on computers as almost (rounded) 600GB

4) in computing technology 640 (like 64) is more familiar number than 600 (like 60)...

But yes, in reality the marketing departments decide which is "better" number for average customers. This is already happened just with 240GB shifting to 250GB, 480-to-500, some producing 300 instead of 320. Of course, it depends on platter sizes and this today's standard stepping based on now-legacy 80GB platters could be changing. But with new 160GB platters this stepping can still be effective (160, 320, 480, 640, 800).

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Harddisks have since mid-80s increased with about 50% per year. A pace that has lastet about 20 years in the industry. In my opinion a pace that is proved long term sustainable and economicaly.

Why do you think it can grow indefinately?

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There are a couple of reasons (based on what I've seen) that account for the significant slowing of increase in hard drive capacity.

1. Demand for higher capacity is not as strong of a force now as it was a few years ago, as pointed out in the postings above.

2. The super-paramagnetic limit is becoming a bit of a technical challenge for hard drive makers. You can find the Wikipedia article (a rather short stub, unfortunately, as of this writing) here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superparamagnetic_effect

In essence, the magnetic bits used to record the information are becoming small enough that thermal fluctuations can be enough to flip bits and corrupt data. Indeed, current generations of hard drives now typically employ on-the-fly error correction routinely to read data off the platters; you can check the error correction rate if you use a program that polls detailed S.M.A.R.T. information. Imagine the scenario of what would happen to the data when sticking a hot-running high-bit-density hard drive into a poorly-ventilated case (as a good number of people are bound to do). Not a good thing.

So... hard drive manufacturers are now moving over to "perpendicular" recording, essentially magnetizing the bits on the platter in a plane perpendicular to the surface of the platter, instead of parallel to it. It is said that this may extend the effective density limit by about an order of magnitude (compared to conventional), so we might start to see another period of increasing hard drive capacities soon (but probably only for a little while). However, manufacturers are probably developing and retooling for this technology at the moment (Seagate being among the first, such as the Momentus 160GB 2.5" drive they've got out now), so that's probably why capacities have stood still for some time.

I'm not an expert, so take all I've said with a grain of salt, but hope this sheds some light in this area.

-thetaomega

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So... hard drive manufacturers are now moving over to "perpendicular" recording, essentially magnetizing the bits on the platter in a plane perpendicular to the surface of the platter, instead of parallel to it. It is said that this may extend the effective density limit by about an order of magnitude (compared to conventional), so we might start to see another period of increasing hard drive capacities soon (but probably only for a little while).

That's a likely scenario, but I feel once we get to ~1 TB per 3.5" platter we'll have reached the limits of magnetic mechanical storage. Of course by then solid-state disks will be well on the way to approaching mechanical storage in terms of cost per GB and overall capacity so it may be moot. Like everything else we've seen in the semiconductor industry, solid-state memory is ready to make an exponential growth in the next few years.

I've also heard that home video is what will probably trigger the next increase in demand for capacity. However, I feel mechanical disks will ultimately not be able to meet this coming demand for single disks in the tens of TB range. SSDs on the other hand can once we've settled on a suitable non-volatile memory architecture (current flash RAM probably won't cut it for various reasons).

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So... hard drive manufacturers are now moving over to "perpendicular" recording, essentially magnetizing the bits on the platter in a plane perpendicular to the surface of the platter, instead of parallel to it. It is said that this may extend the effective density limit by about an order of magnitude (compared to conventional), so we might start to see another period of increasing hard drive capacities soon (but probably only for a little while).

That's a likely scenario, but I feel once we get to ~1 TB per 3.5" platter we'll have reached the limits of magnetic mechanical storage. Of course by then solid-state disks will be well on the way to approaching mechanical storage in terms of cost per GB and overall capacity so it may be moot. Like everything else we've seen in the semiconductor industry, solid-state memory is ready to make an exponential growth in the next few years.

I've also heard that home video is what will probably trigger the next increase in demand for capacity. However, I feel mechanical disks will ultimately not be able to meet this coming demand for single disks in the tens of TB range. SSDs on the other hand can once we've settled on a suitable non-volatile memory architecture (current flash RAM probably won't cut it for various reasons).

Lol,

Solid state has been expected to replace mechanical storage for a long, long time. The amazing thing is that these antique mechanical storage systems continue finding novel ways of keeping ahead of solid state and remaining a better bang for the buck over the course of time.

Free

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Solid state has been expected to replace mechanical storage for a long, long time. The amazing thing is that these antique mechanical storage systems continue finding novel ways of keeping ahead of solid state and remaining a better bang for the buck over the course of time.

That was true for a long, long time. However, we didn't come up against hard physical limits as we are today. Also, any improvements in mechanical storage density in a few years may ultimately make it cost more than solid-state disks. Solid-state memory is getting cheaper per GB more rapidly than mechanical disks are at this point. It's only a matter of time before the two curves cross, and SSDs become the better value. It won't happen this year, or next, but I'd say by 2010 it's possible, and by 2015 it's almost certain.

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Since Hitachi has a 5 platter design, they should be able to make a 600+ gb drive.

5x125 gig = 625 gig

or

if they use Seagates 166 gigs platters

5x166gig = 830 gig

Let's hope that Hitachi bump areal density on their drives.

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Since Hitachi has a 5 platter design, they should be able to make a 600+ gb drive.

5x125 gig = 625 gig

or

if they use Seagates 166 gigs platters

5x166gig = 830 gig

Let's hope that Hitachi bump areal density on their drives.

It isn't as simple as that. As platter count increases, it becomes harder to achieve the same areal density.

I'd be quite surprised to see drives beyond 500 GB before the end of this year.

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I wish the next new drive size would be 640GB, not 600GB. It's more logical because of:

1) drive sizes increasing is more like on logarithmical scale, the step must be bigger at the end of 1-10

2) even with today's linear steps we get: 80, 160, 240(250), 320, 400, 480(500), 560, 640, 720, 800

3) 640GB decimal is 596GiB binary, so just this can be seen on computers as almost (rounded) 600GB

4) in computing technology 640 (like 64) is more familiar number than 600 (like 60)...

But yes, in reality the marketing departments decide which is "better" number for average customers. This is already happened just with 240GB shifting to 250GB, 480-to-500, some producing 300 instead of 320. Of course, it depends on platter sizes and this today's standard stepping based on now-legacy 80GB platters could be changing. But with new 160GB platters this stepping can still be effective (160, 320, 480, 640, 800).

There is no logical reason to why sizes like that should be followed. After what i have seen, sizes are always keept in rond nice numbers. Platter sizes are designed to match round numbers. i.e. 125GB platters that is used in 250GB drives doesnt get placed in 3 platter designs to make 375GB drives. 300GB is a more used size then 320GB. No discs of 480GB exists yet.

Because of the technical limitations mentioned and marketing round numbers i think disks can increase in this order: 500 - 600 - 700 - 800 - 900 - 1000, or maby 500 - 600 - 800 - 1000.

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That's a likely scenario, but I feel once we get to ~1 TB per 3.5" platter we'll have reached the limits of magnetic mechanical storage. Of course by then solid-state disks will be well on the way to approaching mechanical storage in terms of cost per GB and overall capacity so it may be moot. Like everything else we've seen in the semiconductor industry, solid-state memory is ready to make an exponential growth in the next few years.

SSD have a very long way yo go in terms of cost per GB. Currently a 250GB drive costs about 100$ and for the same price you can buy about 3GiB of flash memory. Thats a difference of 83 to catch up with. Even with continous exponential growth of doubling the capacity every 18 months, assuming hard disc drives cost the same all the time it will take 10 years to cover the gap. Realisticaly drive capacity will increase so it might take 15 years. Another factor that silicon chips is expected to reach technical limitations too in about 5-10 years from now. Currently it looks that 45nm is the smallest node that is practically and economically obtainable. This might be extended to 32 or 22nm, but any further seems extremly unrealisticaly. (Not by me, but by the industry it self). In other words it looks like SSD might never catch up with harddrives in costs per GB.

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1. Demand for higher capacity is not as strong of a force now as it was a few years ago, as pointed out in the postings above.

First: Thanks for the look into technical limitations. :)

I just read the other day that demand for harddisc drives is increasing at the moment:

Hard-Disk Shipments Break 100 Million

The article points out that demand for drives to laptops, mp3-players, and digital video recorders are driving much of the sale. They altso point out that average price per drive is on its way up. Suggesting that more people buy high-end drives and less people buy low-end drives then before.

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Another factor that silicon chips is expected to reach technical limitations too in about 5-10 years from now. Currently it looks that 45nm is the smallest node that is practically and economically obtainable. This might be extended to 32 or 22nm, but any further seems extremly unrealisticaly. (Not by me, but by the industry it self).

IBM just announced they're working on "32nm and beyond" recently

http://www.linuxelectrons.com/article.php/20060112073654259

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They altso point out that average price per drive is on its way up. Suggesting that more people buy high-end drives and less people buy low-end drives then before.

Rising average selling prices (ASP) can also point to supply stabilizing in the industry with respect to demand. There was oversupply for a while, resulting in low ASP. With Seagate buying out Maxtor (or otherwise eliminating Maxtor as a supplier; Maxtor will be no more even if the deal falls through), there are fewer suppliers to provide for the same market share, so ASP will naturally rise even if the mix of drives sold hasn't changed.

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Adding a platter or 2 is much harder than you think. The whole assembly need to be balanced and each head need to stay 7nm +- 2nm above the media. Most drive makers now using 4 platters design has to give up the inner zones in order to have adequent yield, and I bet you will see much lower reliability in these monsters than the simpler, 1-2 platter designs. What do you think they were doing when they only sell 500gb but theoretically they should be 640gb? They can't get enough yield and reliability.

The density is hitting a limit right now, to a point that if you are not using perpendicular recording you will erase the track next to where you are writing after constant writing (don't worry, it is re-written once in a while to compensate for this). Perpendicular will help big time, but the limit is getting nearer and nearer.

If you think flash has no such limit, think again. They can't grow indefinitely either and dollar for dollar they will always be more expensive per gb than hard drive. I think they are good ideas for embedded systems and mp3 players, but for large collections of video or enterprise/server applications, they won't cut it. Flash don't last forever, they die after a million or so write cycle.

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If you think flash has no such limit, think again. They can't grow indefinitely either and dollar for dollar they will always be more expensive per gb than hard drive. I think they are good ideas for embedded systems and mp3 players, but for large collections of video or enterprise/server applications, they won't cut it. Flash don't last forever, they die after a million or so write cycle.

I never said flash was what would replace magnetic disks. Right now there are a couple of other more promising candidates for that such as magneto-resistive RAM. As for capacity limits, while it's true that sooner or later electronic memory will reach a physical limit of sorts, there's nothing preventing you from stacking wafers. Let's assume solid-state memory reaches a similar density as today's platters. You might have 100 GB for each layer, but since the wafers might only be 0.01 mm thick you could stack 2500 of them to the inch and fit them within a standard 3.5" form factor hard drive case. There's your 250 TB drive. As for being more expensive, for now yes, but the cost on anything solid state goes down exponentially, ultimately reaching only slightly more than the costs of the packaging, which is where commodity ICs have been for years. The costs of hard drives on the other hand has only gone down mostly due to increases in platter densities. If you want a great example here, look at LEDs. Last year a Luxeon emitter gave out about 30 lumens and cost $8. This year it gives out 45 lumens and costs $3.45. That's a factor of 3.5 decrease in the cost per lumen in one year. If we assume that whatever type of NVRAM which will replace today's disks starts out at prices similar to today's flash (~$40/GB) then in 5 years you have it down to 7.5 cents per GB. As for hard disks, let's say capacity doubles in 5 years so 2 platter commodity disks (historically the cheapest per GB) selling for $70 have capacities of 600 GB. That comes to 11.7 cents per GB. Like I said, SSD won't replace mechanical disks this year or next, but I'd really be surprised if magnetic storage was still around in any form in 2016.

If you think about it, solid-state drives have all but replaced the role which used to be filled by floppies and then Zip/LS-120 disks, so obviously SSDs have decreased in price fast enough to make them competitive in that market. Also, the driving force here towards SSDs will not necessarily be replacing mechanical disks in desktop computers, but rather greater capacity for more digital pictures and especially video in digicams. Later on, you'll start to see laptops with SSDs since this is one application where they make a lot of sense, and users will pay a premium. Eventually, mass production will drive the cost per GB low enough so they replace magnetic disks altogether, and probably every other type of spinning disk storage as well.

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Have no fear disk drives capacity is about increase drastically. In a recent interview with Forbes, seagate CEO said Perpendicular technology should lead to drives in the 2 to 3 terabyte range. Also a new technology called HAMR will be out soon.

"In a few years Seagate will let loose the HAMR, or heat-assisted magnetic recording. It uses laser and magnetic pulses to heat and widen the grooves where the bits get recorded. Combined with perpendicular technology, HAMR could theoretically multiply the capacity of today's disk as much as 500-fold"

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Solid state has been expected to replace mechanical storage for a long, long time. The amazing thing is that these antique mechanical storage systems continue finding novel ways of keeping ahead of solid state and remaining a better bang for the buck over the course of time.

That was true for a long, long time. However, we didn't come up against hard physical limits as we are today. Also, any improvements in mechanical storage density in a few years may ultimately make it cost more than solid-state disks. Solid-state memory is getting cheaper per GB more rapidly than mechanical disks are at this point. It's only a matter of time before the two curves cross, and SSDs become the better value. It won't happen this year, or next, but I'd say by 2010 it's possible, and by 2015 it's almost certain.

You know that solid state has _just_ the same kind of problems? Running into the shrinking wall is just as much a problem with flash/mram than it is for harddisks,

Its not like the 2 orders of magnitude price difference between them have been shrinking the last 10 years or so. Its just that the "big enough" size for many applications hasnt increased and thus solid state became more and more viable for them

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Have no fear disk drives capacity is about increase drastically. In a recent interview with Forbes, seagate CEO said Perpendicular technology should lead to drives in the 2 to 3 terabyte range. Also a new technology called HAMR will be out soon.

"In a few years Seagate will let loose the HAMR, or heat-assisted magnetic recording. It uses laser and magnetic pulses to heat and widen the grooves where the bits get recorded. Combined with perpendicular technology, HAMR could theoretically multiply the capacity of today's disk as much as 500-fold"

Sounds kinda like Sony/Sanyo's DWDD used in minidisc. It'll be interesting to see if HAMR suffers from the slow write speeds as well. (It takes appreciable time to heat a spot to the Curie point to allow the magnet to do its job.)

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