EXCLUSIVE | Seagate on the ‘next significant thing’ in Hard Drives and why SSDs will not replace them anytime quickly

The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles may well have brought strong-state drives to more residences, basically democratising what might effectively be named ‘next-gen’ in storage technologies, but the quintessential difficult drive is not going anyplace, not anytime quickly anyway. Even as SSDs continue to develop and help the use instances exactly where they make sense, providers like Seagate are also working simultaneously to unlock the next significant factor in HDDs.

The last decade or so was all about escalating capacity—to the extent that Seagate is shipping 20 Terabyte drives today.

“The next decade will be about ramping performance,” John Morris, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Seagate tells TheSpuzz Online, adding “there is already a big push to introduce enhanced performance capability in hard disk drives.”

According to Morris, Seagate is seeing a relatively higher 40 plus % development in information demand related with mass capacity use instances. The dominant storage option in an Exabyte-scale information centre is—still—a difficult disk drive. Typically, you would see at least 90 % of the Bytes stored on difficult disks in these substantial information centres and much less than 10 % stored on SSD. That ratio, he says, is in a rough equilibrium and it would continue into the next decade.

Generally speaking, when SSDs might collect a lot of limelight and see wide-scale adoption in particular in the customer space, the significance of a difficult drive cannot be stressed sufficient. What’s intriguing is, how Seagate plans to make them greater.


FE: Could you take us by way of your present item and services portfolio—what is it that every of them brings to the table.

Morrison: Seagate is a business focused on information, delivering a portfolio of options to enable people today and providers handle information as effectively as attainable. We have a mix of unique kinds of items. Our HDD portfolio is one of the broadest in the market. We have a complete family of items for each customer and enterprise use instances. We have 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch difficult disks for each enterprise and customer applications. Our biggest segment in HDD company is the mass capacity segment exactly where effective storage of substantial volumes of information is the main objective. In SSD, we have SaaS and NVMe SSD and we’re truly focused on enterprise applications. It’s not a substantial element of our company today, but it is an critical element.

The bulk of our systems company is focused on solving enterprise discomfort points and we have a relatively robust engagement with our OEM partners to style and provide these systems for their personal use. These are storage centric systems and we also provide management software program for that.

Lastly, we have an internal object storage platform that we are working on and that we have open sourced. Its objective is to provide a extremely scalable object storage software program stack that can be used to allow effective options for mass capacity use instances. We’ve not too long ago announced our Lyve cloud which is a storage as a service platform that is in the method of rolling out now.

FE: How has HDD technologies evolved more than the years? What are some of the newest advancements in the field appropriate now? Can it be enhanced additional?

Morrison: There is no foreseeable finish in the future of difficult drives. We continue to innovate in recording technologies and there is really a sturdy conviction broadly in the market that we have a technologies transition to choose up from—the existing— Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) technologies. We refer to it as Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). When we and other folks go by way of that transition, we anticipate that to open up a different 15 years.

If you look at the recording in the disk drive market and the recording technologies that we’ve been employing, about each and every 15 years, there is a key technologies transition. The last key technologies transition we had was about 2005. That was when we transitioned from longitudinal magnetic recording and into perpendicular magnetic recording. Presently, we are all employing perpendicular magnetic recording systems in difficult disk drives. That’s provided us in excess of 15 years of robust areal density development. (*Areal density development refers to how quite a few bits per unit region you can record on a media.) We’re at a point exactly where when there’s nevertheless ongoing improvement in areal density capability of perpendicular, we are reaching asymptotic limits. Probably none of us would be super comfy to draw a line in the sand and we do preserve surprising ourselves with innovations that continue to push the perceived limits forward, but someplace in the variety of 20 Terabyte, you are going to start off reaching diminishing returns with perpendicular recording.

We will be launching HAMR quickly in the next couple of years. That would represent a different key technologies transition that we anticipate will continue to provide robust areal density development for at least a different 15 years. But that does not imply that that is going to be the last innovation. I believe we will continue to innovate in this space and in a different 10 years from now, it is really probably that we will have a different notion for a recording technologies that can take more than from HAMR, but the key point is, we think that we’ve got 15 years of robust and sustainable areal density growth—that will be related with HAMR—that we will productise in the close to future.

We’ve also launched a dual actuator platform, which basically doubles difficult drive functionality to address the wish for enhanced functionality with difficult drives. It’s a segment that is expanding and we anticipate it will continue to develop, in particular as we start off searching at the sort of capacity per drive that can be accomplished with HAMR technologies.

FE: What was the require for an SSD then? Are they greater?

Morrison: There are quite a few unique layers in the memory storage stack, and every has really certain strengths. For difficult disks, the strength is their financial worth. The expense per unit storage with difficult drives is exceptionally very good and it has a balanced functionality capability. If you require that financial worth, you are going to gravitate towards a difficult disk. SSDs—using flash media—shift the metric more than to be a lot more focused on intrinsic functionality capability.

If you look at difficult disks, they are really very good at streaming functionality, so if you are performing substantial file transfer or if you are performing substantial block random IO, you can hit the peak functionality capability of the difficult drive with these kinds of workloads. But, as you gravitate towards smaller sized transfer length random IO, your functionality begins to go down reduced and reduced. This is exactly where SSDs truly shine. Generally speaking, SSDs are capable of preserving a flat functionality irrespective of the workload that is presented to them. (*That’s not totally accurate, but I believe it is close sufficient to the truth to be a valuable instance.) So, whether or not you present a little block random or a substantial block random or a sequential workload or a mixed create and study workload to an SSD, it is going to have relatively continuous functionality. That’s a crucial and intrinsic attribute of SSDs and it is what permitted them to carve out a important and really critical part in the general storage landscape.

You have a tendency to use SSDs to resolve functionality challenges in your storage option and you have a tendency to use difficult disks to resolve expense challenges. And interestingly, when you look at really substantial-scale storage use cases—think, these Exabyte scale information centres—you have to use each. You require the difficult drives to provide that financial worth for the bulk of the information and you use SSDs to provide greater service or greater functionality to access that bulk information by way of information tearing and information caching.

FE: Will SSDs get more affordable anytime quickly?

Morrison: SSDs use flash media and that flash media has a expense structure—that is related with some architectural attributes of the flash itself. It is accurate that as you get more volume, you can accomplish a level of scale, but you know flash in common is currently at a level of scale exactly where incremental volume is not a important contributor to the expense profile of the flash itself. It’s truly the technologies. The principal driver for lowering the expense of flash presently is escalating the quantity of layers or decks that are in the flash media style and escalating the quantity of bits per cell and possibly, shrinking the planer dimensions of that cell. So, fundamentally, the expense of flash is driven by improvements made to these core attributes. They have an intrinsic profile for improvement that is relatively effectively published in the market.

We do anticipate to see continued decreases in the expense of flash. Likewise, we anticipate to see continued reduce in the expense of disk and commonly speaking, the annualised improvements in the expense structure of each flash and difficult disk are fairly close to one a different and so our expectation is there’s sort of a rough equilibrium in that expense structure. In other words, the ratio of expense in between a difficult disk and SSD is going to be relatively continuous more than the next 5 or ten years.

FE: In HDD versus SSD debate, what’s the present state of privacy like?

Morrison: Data safety is relatively agnostic whether or not you are employing SSD or HDD. There’s no technical purpose why you would have a unique level of safety for information stored on an SSD versus information stored on a difficult disk. We have been delivering safety options for our storage items for really some time. We adhere to international requirements for the safety technologies and so there are requirements related with how encryption is accomplished, and how the item handles important management, so on and so forth, and you know all of our safety features on our storage items adhere to these requirements to just make it much easier for people today to integrate and use the storage device with the safety features and in their application.

FE: Given that you have partnered with each Sony and Microsoft to make custom storage for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, how do you look at proprietary storage?

Morrison: We have a lengthy history of delivering OEM options for proprietary systems. Now, it is also moved into the console space. If you look at consoles in certain, they have relatively rigid specifications related with the functionality matching in between the external storage that you add to the program compared to what’s inside the box, the factory storage option if you will. That functionality characteristic of the storage is crucial to assure the finish user experiences is seamless and higher-high-quality and so there’s a wish to assure sufficient compatibility. Different providers will take unique paths to assure that you have sufficient compatibility to provide the finish user encounter that they’re searching for and that will outcome in unique options becoming designed for the market place. But at the finish of the day, the objective is to make sure that the storage is delivering a seamless finish user encounter.

FE:  Is there a third technologies also simultaneously in the works—aside from HDD and SSD—that the market is presently exploring?

Morrison: Generally speaking, for storage use instances, there’s truly nothing at all in the horizon that appears like it has an chance to disrupt either SSD or HDD, in their respective locations. Certainly not in the next 10 years. There are technologies out there that could mature and could potentially supply possibilities to participate in say, archive storage, but we’re truly not seeing any disruptions in the horizon for at least a different 10 years relative to exactly where HDD and SSD are operating today.

FE:  How immune is Seagate to the worldwide semiconductor shortage? Has the pandemic boosted general sales?

Morrison: I do not believe anyone is truly immune to it. There are clearly provide chain challenges in the electronics space. We have very good agreements and partnerships with our suppliers in the electronics provide chain, and so we’ve been capable to sustain our production capability. We anticipate that capability will persist. Everyone is maintaining a close eye on almost everything that is going on right here, but you know, I would say, largely speaking, our production capability has continued to be robust in spite of the challenges that are occurring appropriate now.

The pandemic did accelerate the adoption of tools and options to boost edge infrastructure capability as effectively as endpoint capability and so, there is an acceleration of deployment of options. But as far as demand, we’ve had a fairly steady historic demand even by way of the pandemic, and we anticipate these demand profiles will continue.

Originally appeared on: TheSpuzz