4 storage trends in 2023 – What about HDDs?

There is no doubt that hard drives are still an important data storage medium. A few years ago, many analysts believed that hard drives would be completely replaced by SSDs, with a large number of them predicting that this would be the case in 2020. It is now 2023, and it is very clear to everyone that that is not yet the case, nor will it be in the foreseeable future.

The total amount of data generated and subsequently stored has grown exponentially over the last decade, far more than anyone could have previously imagined. Moreover, it continues to rise. Relying on SDDs alone would simply not be possible. First, the amount of SDDs being produced would not be able to keep up with demand. Second, they are not economical enough for many of the more cost-sensitive applications that require large-scale data storage.

Technological innovations for hard drives

Continuous technical development helps keep HDDs competitive. For example, the introduction of helium-filled solutions has been decisive. Because the discs are in a housing filled with helium (a light, homogeneous gas) instead of air, there is less friction when the discs rotate. As a result, turbulence problems are reduced and the thickness of the discs can be significantly reduced. The ability to use more such thinner disks leads to a larger storage capacity. Over the past 12 months, Toshiba has introduced the ground-breaking MG10 series 10-platter hard drives. These 3.5-inch form factor drives have a capacity of 20 TB. Improvements to the read and write heads have also contributed to this. The storage density of hard drives can now be increased by 2 TB per year, so solutions with 22 TB and 24 TB capacities will come in the near future.

4 new storage trends

In addition to the technological advances just described, there are several important underlying influences affecting the global data storage market. Here are some of the most prominent:

Startup disks

In terms of client/PC and boot drives, HDDs have actually been largely replaced by SSDs. In particular, the compact M.2 form factor with NVM-e interface has been established in notebook computing devices and smartphone handsets. However, it must be recognized that suitable SSDs are still about 4 times more expensive per capacity unit than hard drives (a 500 GB SSD has a price tag similar to a 2 TB hard drive). Therefore, low-cost PC systems with higher memory requirements are still equipped with hard drives.

Online storage

A greater emphasis on online storage has been seen for several years now. Modern society has access to, and is increasingly accessing, an ever-increasing range of cloud platforms. This can be for streaming entertainment content (such as music or movies), but also for e-commerce, games and social media activities. Another factor in this regard is the wider spread of teleworking. All data required for such purposes resides in large data centers that mainly use HDDs as storage media. Processing speed optimization plays an increasingly important role. While individual hard drives are quite slow compared to SSDs, the interconnection of a large number of hard drives means that relatively high speeds can be achieved. While storage solutions typically consisted of arrays of up to 24 hard drives integrated into a single enclosure and managed by a host computer, today configurations exist with 60 or more drives in a single unit – making it possible to process much larger amounts of data. The challenge here, however, is to scale the overall processing speed. With 24 hard drives each capable of transferring approximately 280 MB/s, the 8 GB/s capacity of the adapter card with 8x PCI-Express Gen3 host interface lanes is sufficient for the theoretical 24x 280 MB/s = 6.7 GB/s to the host system and to the network. However, with the prospect of having as many as 60 drives involved, nearly 17GB/s of aggregate performance becomes available – assuming the bottleneck can be overcome. With the introduction of PCI-Express Gen4 technology, almost 16 GB/s can be achieved over the 8 interface lanes. For further enhancements, adapter cards with 16x PCI-Express Gen4 lanes are now available. These have a limit of around 31 GB/s, which is more than enough even for configurations where 100 HDDs are included in the system.

Sustainability

Making data center operations more sustainable and reliable is one area where HDDs can play an important role. There is growing concern about the environmental impact of such plants due to the huge amounts of power they consume. Toshiba has conducted extensive testing of OEM partners’ high-density JBOD solutions (based on arrays of our 18 TB enterprise hard drives) to validate the strength of their green credentials. The tests show that data center locations can implement HDD technology that can meet the need for more data storage resources while maintaining the levels of energy efficiency dictated by this industry’s ambitious roadmaps. It should also be mentioned that the inclusion of temperature sensors in the company’s hard drives means that conditions can be better monitored and thus extend the life of the hard drive.

Surveillance camera storage

In terms of storing surveillance data, there are now many more cameras with higher resolution. To handle all these high-resolution video streams, next-generation HDD solutions are needed. Since 24/7 operation is generally prescribed, even under harsh working conditions, they must be robust enough to always function reliably. In addition to the ability to purchase reliable, performance-optimized solutions, another key priority for customers in this sector is to keep the associated total cost of ownership (TCO) to an absolute minimum. The Toshiba S300 and S300 Pro have both proven their effectiveness in surveillance applications and are widely used by customers worldwide. They are designed for up to 64 HD video stream inputs and have an operating temperature range of 0°C to 70°C. Reducing the system’s energy consumption is also crucial here, both from an operating cost and sustainability point of view. Since our S300 drive runs at a speed of 5400 to 5700 RPM, the amount of energy consumed during recording is significantly reduced. Targeting advanced AI-powered monitoring analytics, the lower friction of the helium-filled MG series of enterprise drives enables these drives to run energy-efficiently at 7200 RPM.

Due to the increasing demand and the announced technical advances, the growth of hard drives has certainly not slowed down. Therefore, Toshiba continues to invest in increasing production capacity. They continue to work closely with data center equipment vendors, surveillance system integrators and computer OEMs to bring highly effective new solutions to market that are truly differentiating.

Leave a Comment