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New 4 TB hard drive will sell for under $350

When it comes to computing there are several things that enthusiasts can never get enough of. One of those things is storage; we can always use more storage space. Western Digital has announced that it has added a new 4 TB capacity drive to its line of Black hard drives.

These drives are aimed specifically at enthusiasts and gamers and are 3.5-inch 7200 RPM units. Western Digital is shipping a new 4 TB capacity drives immediately and notes that the drives have a 64 MB cache. The drives also feature WD dual actuator technology and use the SATA 6 Gb/s interface.

 
The new 4 TB hard drives include a dual processor controller, IntelliSeek to calculate optimum seek speeds and lower the power consumption, and StableTrac.  The drives also have NoTouch ramp load technology so that the recording head never touches the disk media for significantly less wear, extending the lifetime of the drive.

The 4 TB Western Digital Black WD40001FAEX hard drive will be offered through select distributors and resellers for $339. The drive includes a five-year warranty.

Source: Western Digital



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Why?
By Kimoterapias on 11/21/2012 9:14:00 AM , Rating: 3
Why are HDD manufacturers taking so long to move past this 4TB barrier? 4TB drives have been around for a while now and yet the price hasn't dropped much and it seems like they won't be able to produce drives larger than 4TB anytime soon.




RE: Why?
By zerocks on 11/21/2012 9:31:36 AM , Rating: 3
I have a feeling Google could answer this pretty well (Without googling it myself I'm going to attempt to answer)
To my knowledge the compression of platters in HDDs has been one to plague us for quite some time and has thus been leading to an end of increase in storage capacity, the HDDs aren't getting bigger simply because it's becoming too unstable to compress data on a physical drive past this point.
I'm sure eventually we will have larger HDDs but they'll probably employ another physical layer internally or there'll be some great break through with compression methods..
Correct me if I'm wrong but that's my understanding of the situation.


RE: Why?
By Nortel on 11/21/2012 10:44:06 AM , Rating: 2
Why can't they make 3.5" hard drives that are double thick and bam, you have a 8TB drive.


RE: Why?
By DanNeely on 11/21/2012 11:15:24 AM , Rating: 2
They used to make 5.25" and full (double) height HDs. Standard 3.5" drives killed them by being smaller while still providing enough capacity for the vast majority of users.

The number of people who need 8TB and whose needs wouldn't be met well by two standard size drives to pay a significant price premium (either for an 8/10 platter controller or a package consisting of 2 standard drives and a RAID0 controller) aren't enough to justify the extra cost needed to design one.


RE: Why?
By Nortel on 11/21/2012 11:38:39 AM , Rating: 1
The more I think about it, the more a 5.25" HDD makes more sense. The relative surface speed would be far greater on the larger platter and the surface area would also be far greater. The only real disadvantage would be seek time across a larger platter but if the disk is used for storage, a longer seek is not relevant.

Although this is really for not since solid state solutions are coming down so rapidly. It would be interesting providing a "Fusion" solution with a 5.25" 10TB drive and a SSD.


RE: Why?
By steven975 on 11/21/2012 1:44:12 PM , Rating: 2
I remember when they had the oddball Quantum Bigfoots.

Those drives were sooooo slow!


RE: Why?
By Samus on 11/21/2012 2:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
And so unreliable! You'd think a 3600RPM drive (or whatever the hell they were) would actually have great reliability. But leave it up to Quantum...

Maxtor and Quantum, a marriage made in heaven.


RE: Why?
By someguy123 on 11/21/2012 2:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
how would the speed be greater on a larger platter? it's not as though you're reading an entire platter at all times, that actuator is spinning it around and reading off it. higher density on smaller platters would give faster performance.


RE: Why?
By overzealot on 11/22/2012 6:33:36 AM , Rating: 2
Because the angular velocity at the outer edge would be greater if you maintained the same rpm, areal density and platter density. Which of course, you wouldn't.


RE: Why?
By overzealot on 11/23/2012 9:44:23 PM , Rating: 2
I posted tired, apologies.
I meant linear velocity would be greater if you maintained constant angular velocity.


RE: Why?
By FaaR on 11/21/2012 3:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
A 5.25" drive would draw far more power, both at idle but also during spinup. Vibration would be a bigger issue for the larger, much heavier platters making tracking at the extreme densities used today much more difficult. Seeks would be hella slow as well. Of course, a 5.25" drive would be a lot more expensive as well, and do you really NEED one? Do you seriously need more than 4TB storage of anything? If so, what the hell do you keep on your drives? :P


RE: Why?
By Samus on 11/21/2012 4:03:31 PM , Rating: 1
"640K is more memory than anyone will ever need"

-Bill Gates

but alas, I don't see WD selling many of these for $300+ when reliable Seagate 3TB drives of comparable performance are <$90

You could have 12TB across four drives for the price of one 4TB drive.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...


RE: Why?
By zerocks on 11/21/2012 5:24:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"640K is more memory than anyone will ever need" -Bill Gates

Bill has come out to say that this quote is always used out of context..

quote:
but alas, I don't see WD selling many of these for $300+ when reliable Seagate 3TB drives of comparable performance are <$90

Seagate have drives of comparable performance, but they have drives with worse reliability for a cheaper price. Not worth it in my opinion.


RE: Why?
By someguy123 on 11/22/2012 2:55:58 AM , Rating: 2
It's amazing how long that false quote keeps floating around. It's almost as old as microsoft.


RE: Why?
By Sivar on 11/21/2012 1:47:34 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Why can't they make 3.5" hard drives that are double thick and bam, you have a 8TB drive.

It's called RAID. ;)


RE: Why?
By KC7SWH on 11/21/2012 2:42:15 PM , Rating: 2
And very recently you could buy the WD Red 3TB hard drive for $150. I could buy 2 of the 3TB drives have $50 for a controller if needed and end up with 2TB more space than what they want for 4TB.


RE: Why?
By Mitch101 on 11/21/2012 4:34:47 PM , Rating: 2
$89.00 for 3TB drives out there today.


RE: Why?
By cyberguyz on 11/22/2012 5:50:03 AM , Rating: 1
Why do they need to?

You need more than 4GB? Buy another drive.

I can set up a 12-bay NAS with 12x4GB drives if I really need that kind of storage. That would be enough storage to handle most medium-sized businesses. Need more than that, set up another NAS!

Not only that, but 2x 4GB drives in a raid 0 array are faster than a single 8 GB drive at the cost of some reliability. Add a 3rd 4GB drive and you can have fast 8GB with full reliability in Raid 5.


RE: Why?
By danjw1 on 11/21/2012 11:00:52 AM , Rating: 2
I forget what they call it but they had a new(ish) technology to help compress the bits on the platter. Maybe they have already gotten all the additional capacity out of that.

I think that after the flooding in Thailand, they all got used to higher margins. So don't feel any real need to push boundaries, right now.


RE: Why?
By bug77 on 11/21/2012 11:09:59 AM , Rating: 2
If you're talking about perpendicular recording, that's been with us for about 7 years: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpendicular_recordi...


RE: Why?
By danjw1 on 11/21/2012 11:17:52 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, that is what I was thinking about. But, it wasn't brought to consumer hard drives until about 5 years ago. Originally it was used in 3.5" floppies.


RE: Why?
By zephyrprime on 11/21/2012 11:44:33 AM , Rating: 3
Please, don't call it "compression". It is called areal density. There are ways to increase areal density too in the future. There was a sudden jump in size when vertical recording was introduced but that is leveling off. But there are further possible methods down the line like heat assisted and structured media.


RE: Why?
By bill.rookard on 11/21/2012 10:23:04 AM , Rating: 2
Laws of physics apply. When encoding magnetic 'dots' on a disk, you run into several problems relating to being able to differentiate between a bit which is on or off at high rotating speeds. The tighter you pack the bits, the smaller the dots are, and thus the harder they are to read since you're trying to read a magnetic blip. Eventually, because the dots are closer together, you run into the problem of reading a neighboring bit by mistake so there's a minimum distance you need between them.

You're also limited then by the form factor - as a standard 3.5" hard drive is 1" tall by 3.5" wide and limited in length. In there you have to fit a motor, the disks, the spindle, bearings, the read arm and servo, and some electronics to control it all and a casing to keep it all together.

Remember, about 10-12 years ago, the largest drives you could affordably buy were 100GB drives, and now at the same price point you can get 3TB drives - in other words, capacity has doubled every 2 years (100GB/200GB/400GB/800GB/1.6TB/3.2TB).

I don't think that's unreasonable from a development standpoint at all, especially since much of the focus these days is away from traditional spinning hard drives and towards SSDs. Heck, these days you can get a 1TB -laptop- drive in a 9mm 2.5" format.

If you really wanted to increase the capacity of the drive, we would need to move away from a 3.5" format to something slightly larger (perhaps a 4" format?) as this would increase the area of the disk platters by a substantial amount (area increases with the square of the radius) - in fact, a 3.5" disk has 19 sq inches (top and bottom), while a 4" disk has 25 sq inches - or about 25% more capacity per platter (ok, rough numbers not accounting for the spindle, it would probably be a greater percentage increase in usable space since you're adding area to the OUTSIDE of the circle).

That would bring other challenges though as you're increasing the mass of the platters, stronger platters would be needed since centrifugal forces would increase with larger diameters etc, wobble would need to be accounted for, etc.

Just as a comparison, going from a 3.5" to a 4" would result in the following numbers:

3.5" drive (seagate 3tb, 3 platters) = approx 38.1 sq in readable area = 3tb.
4.0" drive (theoretical, 3 platters) = approx 58.1 sq in readable area = 1.5x larger = 3TB * 1.5 = 4.5TB.

At this point, the new 4.0TB drives could be increased to 6TB just by going to a larger 4.0" size with no increase in technology.


RE: Why?
By lagomorpha on 11/21/2012 2:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
Iirc the old 5.25" Quantum Bigfoot drives only spun at 4200rpm. So long as you're only using the mechanical drives for long term storage I could see the performance penalty being worth huge capacities. If hdds don't switch to a larger format, its only a few years until ssds catch up to them in cost/GB.


RE: Why?
By Guspaz on 11/21/2012 4:05:16 PM , Rating: 3
Why enlarge the drive size? We can do five platters per 3.5" drive (there are such drives on the market), and we can do 1 TB per platter (again, there are such drives on the market). Hence, current technology without any modifications enables 5TB per 3.5" drive. There may be 1.33TB platters out there, not sure.

The reason we're stuck where we are is simply lack of demand, I think.


RE: Why?
By Shadowself on 11/21/2012 11:56:20 AM , Rating: 2
It's not really compression (though compression techniques using multi pass technologies have gotten lossless compression to better than 2:1 for generic data) or having the bits physically so close together that they are difficult to read (current read head technologies coupled with current partial response, maximum likelihood and other statistical reading techniques are plenty good enough to discern which bit is which even in higher areal densities than are common today).

It comes down to a permanence and density issue with technologies that are easily manufacturable. How many *STABLE* bits can you pack into a given area on a platter and still be able to make the platters cheap enough so the public will buy them?

Years ago bits were laid out in the surface plane of the platter. Then areal densities got high enough and those bits got small enough in area and they started affecting the stability of each other (nearby bits tended to flip to the same state rather than the written state). A long string of all 1s even though you wrote 10110001110000 is worthless.

Then researchers figured out how to do perpendicular bits with the magnetic domains written vertically into the platter (perpendicular to the surface of the platter). When manufactures figured out how to do this in a mass producible manner there was a significant jump in disc "size".

The current state of the art has hit against limits of what is easily manufacturable in areal densities again (how many bits you can pack into a square centimeter).

It's not that there are higher densities in the lab. There are. It's that no one has yet developed a manufacturing method that makes these higher density techniques profitable. Having a 10 TB 3.5" drive that costs $100/TB is not marketable.


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