Western Digital now has a 14 TB hard drive

While consumers, particularly those on laptops, look to SSDs as their data storage of choice because of their speed and reliability, hard disk drives or HDDs are never going away. In fact, they have become even more critical because of the digital content we produce and store these days. Unlike SSDs, however, hard drives run into the limits of physics sooner. Which is why making a single HDD that reaches 14 TB capacity, such as Western Digital's Ultrastar Hs14, is no small matter for the enterprise.

Because of their reliance on moving parts and physical medium, HDDs are at the mercy of things like friction and physical space limits. The challenge of cramming more data capacity in the same amount of space as a regular hard drive isn't simply solved by shrinking parts and cramming more of them inside.

The Ultrastar Hs14 accomplish the nearly impossible with two technologies. The first is the use of HGST's, owned by Western Digital, HelioSeal technology. By using helium sealed inside, drive heads don't "flutter" or vibrate as much because of reduced air turbulence. This means heads are more stable and are more precise, allowing hard drive makers to cram more capacity on the same platter.

The second way the Ultrastar Hs14 manages to get 14 TB in the same space is through the use of host-managed SMR, or shingled magnetic recording. SMR maximizes space by writing on top of overlapping tracks, much like shingles on a roof, hence the name.

Despite drool-worthiness, the 14 TB Ultrastar Hs14 is not a panacea. Even Western Digital itself admits it is not a drop in replacement for your conventional HDD. Instead, because of its use of host-managed SMR, it is optimized for sequential writing of data. But, most importantly, given the technologies involved, Western Digital is targeting enterprise customers and OEMs, not the consumer market. That said, any new hardware that will benefit companies and services behind cloud storage, web servers, and the like, will ultimately benefit end-users in the long run.

SOURCE: Western Digital