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posted by janrinok on Wednesday May 11, @10:19AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Western Digital Announces 22TB CMR and 26TB SMR HDDs: 10 Platters plus ePMR

Western Digital is announcing the sampling of its new 22TB CMR and 26TB SMR hard drives today at its What's Next Western Digital Event. As usual, the hyperscale cloud customers will get first dibs on these drives. The key takeaway from today's presentation is that Western Digital doesn't yet feel the need to bring heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) into the picture. In fact, WD is doubling down on energy-assisted PMR (ePMR) technology and OptiNAND (introduced first in the 20TB CMR drives). WD is also continuing to use the triple-stage actuator that it started shipping in the first half of 2020 in the new drives. It goes without saying that the new high-capacity drives are helium-filled (HelioSeal technology). The main change common to both drives is the shift to a 10-stack design.

The SMR drives are getting an added capacity boost, thanks to WD's new UltraSMR technology. This involves adoption of a new advanced error correction algorithm to go along with encoding of larger blocks. This allows improvement in the tracks-per-inch (TPI) metric, resulting in 2.6TB per platter. The new Ultrastar DC HC670 uses ten platters to provide 26TB of host-managed SMR storage for cloud service providers.

PMR = Perpendicular Magnetic Recording
SMR = Shingled Magnetic Recording
OptiNAND = embedded flash drive included on the HDD for caching metadata

While the company did not quantify the amount of NAND in its OptiNAND drives, they are stressing the fact that it is not a hybrid drive (SSHD). Unlike SSHDs, the OptiNAND drives do not store any user data at all during normal operation. Instead, the NAND is being used to store metadata from HDD operation in order to improve capacity, performance, and reliability.


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  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Opportunist on Wednesday May 11, @10:36AM (9 children)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday May 11, @10:36AM (#1244013)

    Or is it yet another "who cares, you already bought it" [techspot.com] case?

    Let's face it, huge HDs are often used for backup storage. In other words, in applications where huge amounts of data are being written at once. And now guess what SRM drives are completely useless at because their write speed is abysmal if huge amounts of data have to be written at once.

    Adding more cache only tries to mask that problem. All it does is to make it look awesome in benchmarks because benchmarks usually only write a couple gigs, at most, which is something the caching architecture can easily catch and compensate. As soon as the cache actually has to drain to the slowpoke SMR drive, things get ugly.

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by EvilSS on Wednesday May 11, @01:44PM (1 child)

      by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 11, @01:44PM (#1244042)

      And are they going to mark their SRM drives?

      Yes, all of the SMR drives will have a large 'WD' printed on the drive label.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @02:48PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @02:48PM (#1244057)

      They should be labeled. Transparency is important. Consumers should know what they are buying.

      Unfortunately companies don't even think the consumer owns what they buy. They shouldn't even be informed about what they are buying to begin with. They have to buy it and learn the drawbacks after it's too late to return it for a refund.

      If you buy something and the company later decides to remotely brick it (ie: stop supporting it) then the consumer is just out of luck. You're not even allowed to repair what you paid for because it's not yours. You simply bought a limited license for a limited time for it to go into a landfill in short order.

      This isn't free market capitalism. Free market capitalism assumes full transparency. It's the government's job to enforce transparency in a capitalistic society. This is not a capitalistic government.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:15PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:15PM (#1244066)

        I think the WD Red plus are now the CMR drives whereas the WD red are now the SMR drives?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:17PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:17PM (#1244067)

          (I guess what's annoying is that USB hard drives are not labeled? Just the internal ones).

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Opportunist on Wednesday May 11, @07:23PM

        by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday May 11, @07:23PM (#1244144)

        Free market capitalism assumes a fully informed demand side. A demand side that knows everything they need to know to make an informed decision about the goods and services that they want to buy.

        That's the fundamental problem of the system.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:41PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:41PM (#1244074)

      This isn't correct. SMR (not SRM) drives only have problems with large amounts of random writes.

      If you write terabytes onto a SMR drive, front to back, as you would for making a backup (or any other kind of bulk storage, you don't have to write all at once, it's not a DVD) , it will perform just fine.

      Just because they have high profile situations where they aren't suitable doesn't mean they don't have plenty of situations that they are suitable. Bulk storage is probably the best case.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:47PM (#1244076)

        That's fine but I think what most people are complaining about is the lack of disclosure.

        For example, USB hard drives don't seem to disclose this type of information.

        Consumers have a right to know what we are buying. Our products should belong to us, no the corporations that sold them to us, and we should be informed about what we are buying.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Opportunist on Wednesday May 11, @07:25PM

        by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday May 11, @07:25PM (#1244145)

        So much for the theory. Ever had to write backups to a HD that has been used and reused over and over, especially with incremental backups? First write will be fine, consecutive writes have more of a random write than a bulk write.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @12:14PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @12:14PM (#1244022)

    err...nevermind.

    • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:24PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:24PM (#1244035)

      "640kb is enough..." said no one, ever.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by pTamok on Wednesday May 11, @12:25PM (29 children)

    by pTamok (3042) on Wednesday May 11, @12:25PM (#1244024)

    I wonder if it is technically possible to have a hybrid shingled drive, that writes in a non-shingled area first, then when the drive is idle (or has a 'low-enough' I/O queue) rewrites/shuffles the data into a shingled area?

    The obvious way to do this is with a NAND cache, but if some tracks, or maybe even a whole platter were to be set aside for non-shingled writes, you could get a performant write speed for a substantial fraction of the drive's full capacity, gaining areal density after a data rewrite to a shingled area. As far as I know, reads from shingled areas are as fast as reads from non-shingled drives - it is 'just' the writing that is substantially slower.

    Obviously, such a technique would not be useful for all I/O profiles - for example, continuous writing of CCTV/security camera data - but, for example, doing periodic backups that don't take up a whole disk, the write acceleration could be worth it, without using NANA with its associated problems.

    I wish drive manufacturers came clean on use of shingling. It's great for increasing areal density.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday May 11, @01:30PM (23 children)

      Mixed shingled/non-shingled sounds complex. They should just increase the size of the DRAM and NAND caches as necessary. If they need to add 1 TB of NAND, they'll just do that.

      OptiNAND does not store data, but surprisingly there are still 3 companies making HDDs and they could take different approaches.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:54PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:54PM (#1244043)

        eh? why not use two drives PMR and SMR in raid config that doesn't have a name (yet)?
        so write to PMR, your "stuff" then when smartdrv.sys notices that PMR disk is idyle, start busying it and slowly (that is max speed the SMR will except incoming data) moving data to the SMR... then freeing that data from the PMR disk ... and in the process waiting for a kb to fix smartdrv.sys 'cause it keeps forgetting to update the new location of the data in the filesystem "database" :D

        • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday May 11, @04:48PM (1 child)

          by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday May 11, @04:48PM (#1244092)

          You're being semi-serious, and I get it. I agree that the best system would involve a much larger cache which would be a combination of RAM and PMR (CMR) and/or SSD and a very intelligent controller to manage it all.

          There are hybrid drives. In fact, an SMR drive writes data in PMR initially. The slowdown happens when it must go back and rewrite those tracks in SMR. The problem is: if you write SMR adjacent to a PMR track, you'll damage or destroy the PMR data, so you have to read that track and rewrite it in SMR. Obviously as a drive fills with data scattered everywhere on the disk, you have a complex and speed-crippling situation of doing lots of rewrites.

          The Wiki page [wikipedia.org] describes the 3 types of management: drive managed, host managed, and host aware. They also list some Linux filesystems that are "zone aware" and work well with host managed drives (and I have no idea which drives can be host managed).

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @07:54PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @07:54PM (#1244155)

            "best system would involve a much larger cache which would be a combination of RAM and PMR (CMR) and/or SSD and a very intelligent controller to manage it all."

            Yes, it's called a computer.

      • (Score: 2, Interesting) by pTamok on Wednesday May 11, @02:35PM (19 children)

        by pTamok (3042) on Wednesday May 11, @02:35PM (#1244054)

        Mixed shingled/non-shingled sounds complex.

        It shouldn't be. If you make one platter non-shingled, then you just need a non-shingled head assembly for that platter. You can then fill up that platter at full-speed write rates, and during idle time migrate the data to the shingled backing store on the other platters.

        Even if you use the same head assembly for each platter, if you make the track spacing wider on part of a platter so that shingling is not necessary, you can do faster writes - it's 'just' a question of positioning the head arm slightly differently. You could reserve the inner tracks for this, for example, to minimize seek times during write. I've no idea what the relative cost of doing this compared to using a NAND cache would be, but it's a trade-off between maximising capacity and spending money on a RAM/NAND cache. It's basically a non-volatile on-disk cache implemented in a different way. There might be a niche for it, or not.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @02:49PM (10 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @02:49PM (#1244059)

          So you take an SMR drive's slow performance and make the drive even slower by requiring 2 writes instead of one: the first to the non-SMR part of the drive, and the second to the SMR part of the drive. And for this to even have a chance of working, you need long periods of inactivity from the user for I/O request so the drive can do its writing to the non-SMR part of the drive. If the user isn't going to be hitting the drive hard anyway, you might as well just go with a 100% SMR drive and pay the price of only a single drive write instead of two.

          I think you will find that a hybrid drive technology is only practical with separate physical drives of each technology where each drive handles a filesystem partition with an expected workload that is suited to that drive technology. Then slow writes don't block fast random I/O.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:36PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @03:36PM (#1244073)

            yes yes. two writes. it only would make sense if SMR are half the price of a PMR (same capacity) and/or PMR cannot be made at same capacity without increasing form factor (and you are thus size constraint for whatever reason).

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by RS3 on Wednesday May 11, @04:53PM (8 children)

            by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday May 11, @04:53PM (#1244096)

            2 writes is literally how SMR drives work, and why they're so slow.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shingled_magnetic_recording [wikipedia.org]

            Okay, to be fair, sometimes you'll get to write data SMR immediately. But as a drive fills, with data scattered everywhere, you're going to do more and more rewrites, and the moves will be farther and farther away requiring much head movement and settle time overhead.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @05:26PM (7 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @05:26PM (#1244112)

              I did not know that SMR was such a stupid design. Who the hell would want such a thing? Besides the slowness, it has double the wear and tear for writes AT LEAST and probably more as it is likely the disk will be fragmented from the double write alogorithm.

              • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Wednesday May 11, @10:08PM (6 children)

                by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday May 11, @10:08PM (#1244185)

                Now you're catching on. Well, it increases storage capacity by 20% or so, as you can see in TFS's linked article (22 TB for PMR vs 26 TB for SMR).

                I think ultimately it reduces fragmentation because it's always trying to rewrite everything in SMR mode, which I think it has to do in one direction, so eventually you'll still have file fragmentation, but no unused spaces interspersed with the data.

                SMR also increases the sales of backup media, software, and systems because your data is, possibly significantly, less safe on SMR.

                Point is: drive manufacturers must make this known, and I'm sure there are already many laws regarding truth in advertising, truth in product description and specifications, etc.

                • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday May 12, @02:55AM (5 children)

                  by Reziac (2489) on Thursday May 12, @02:55AM (#1244281) Homepage

                  And my next question was going to be...

                  How the hell do you back up a 26TB hard drive?

                  Yeah, yeah, with another 26TB hard drive... or several of them... or a dozen smaller older ones that you know are reliable...

                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @06:07AM

                    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @06:07AM (#1244305)

                    We would back up a 26TB hard drive with 6 tapes, 6 Blu-rays, and cold storage fees.

                  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Thursday May 12, @06:09AM (3 children)

                    by RS3 (6367) on Thursday May 12, @06:09AM (#1244306)

                    Well, 80-column punched cards [wikipedia.org] are inefficient. 96-column cards [wikipedia.org] pack much more data into a much smaller card, so that choice is obvious.

                    You could use paper tape. It's quite reliable.

                    While that's keeping you busy changing spools ;-} , I'll use some of these (hang on to your hat if you don't know about this stuff!) :

                    https://interestingengineering.com/new-magnetic-tape-delivers-a-record-580tb-storage-capacity#:~:text=The%20new%20tape%20produced%20by,inch%20%E2%80%94%206.45%20sq%20cm). [interestingengineering.com]

                    And even these guys:

                    https://www.quantum.com/en/products/tape-storage/lto-tape-drives/ [quantum.com]

                    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Reziac on Thursday May 12, @06:20AM

                      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday May 12, @06:20AM (#1244310) Homepage

                      Holy crap, tape libraries have finally gotten ahead of disks!
                      Now, where is my wealthy donor so I can buy one of these marvels??

                      My high school had an IBM1620 that was used for classwork (Fortran II, no less). Punch cards, I know them well... it was a Big Deal when we got a paper tape reader for loading the OS. So much faster -- five minutes instead of half a hour!!

                    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Thursday May 12, @12:39PM (1 child)

                      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 12, @12:39PM (#1244361) Journal
                      I recall mag tapes from many years ago when working on mainframes. Slightly off topic - but is there a system that is cost effective for home use that you are aware of? The last time I searched, the mag tapes and equipment cost more than all of my other hardware put together!
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                      • (Score: 3, Informative) by RS3 on Thursday May 12, @06:09PM

                        by RS3 (6367) on Thursday May 12, @06:09PM (#1244479)

                        ebay, sometimes craigslist, etc. Look for LTO. Business depreciates perfectly good equipment. Sadly too often ends up scrapped or in landfill, but some smart people sell it.

                        Often listers don't know what they have, and just list the drive by model number, rather than "LTO" "drive" "320 GB", or whatever the native capacity is. So some research might be needed, but that's easy, and you might get a better bargain in those cases (I have). Dell sells a lot of drives, but someone else made them of course.

                        You're probably aware, but in case you're not: be aware that tapes and drives are often labeled / advertised for their compressed capacity. You don't have to use drive's compression- I never trust it. Look for native capacity, which is usually considered 1/2 of the compressed capacity.

                        I had a longer post going but no time to finish it. But consider there are cheap small tape libraries available too. I have one that holds, iirc, 8 DAT tapes. Another that holds iirc 7 8 mm tapes (yes, like the 8 mm video tape, but qualified for data). So you can get a lot of backup capacity with lots of cheap tapes and not have to manually change tapes as often (if your backup spans many tapes).

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @02:52PM (7 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @02:52PM (#1244060)

          Also bear in mind that all drive platters are ganged to the same shaft. You don't get parallelism by mixing technologies with one different technology on a separate platter.

          • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday May 11, @04:55PM (6 children)

            by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday May 11, @04:55PM (#1244098)

            Very true, but you could squeeze a 2nd head actuator (for the PMR-only surface) in the other corner and it might just work.

            • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday May 12, @02:57AM (5 children)

              by Reziac (2489) on Thursday May 12, @02:57AM (#1244284) Homepage

              Maybe it's time to admit that the form factor is too small for today's data demands, and return to the full-height hard drive.

              • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Thursday May 12, @06:12AM (4 children)

                by RS3 (6367) on Thursday May 12, @06:12AM (#1244307)

                I don't know if you're serious, but I'd be okay with it. For me, no matter what, I want improved reliability, including long-term # bytes lost. IE, if you lose 1 100TB drive, that's obviously far worse than losing 1 of 5 20TB drives.

                • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday May 12, @06:25AM (3 children)

                  by Reziac (2489) on Thursday May 12, @06:25AM (#1244311) Homepage

                  I am serious. I too will take reliability over conveniently compact, and that "crap, lost the big disk" problem is precisely why I don't mind a stack of 3TB drives instead of one 26TB drive.

                  Of course, I'm not a datacenter that needs all 26TB online all the time, either.

                  • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Thursday May 12, @06:21PM (2 children)

                    by RS3 (6367) on Thursday May 12, @06:21PM (#1244480)

                    Datacenters RAID them together, and you can "cluster" RAIDS together, and "storage area network", etc., so individual drive size isn't important for total capacity. But then they divvy them up into virtualized machines anyway!

                    They care more about capacity per hectare. :)

                    "Hectare" was partially silly, partially serious, of course.

                    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday May 12, @07:22PM

                      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday May 12, @07:22PM (#1244509) Homepage

                      Ha. Hectare may be a joke today, but you just wait!

                    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @07:31AM

                      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @07:31AM (#1244690)

                      We also care about reliability and service uptime. The problem with overly-large drives is that the array takes forever to rebuild. Unless you are using enough redundancies or replicas, you will have a failure on rebuild and some data will be lost. Bigger disks can reduce your overall cost, but it depends on the specs and your fault probability projections, especially the URE. Running degraded for long periods of time or handling large amounts of data increase the probability of loss. That said, we are considering adding more of the latest generations of large drives. But we are only doing so while maintaining proper diversity to prevent complete failure.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @04:46PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @04:46PM (#1244091)

      They should just separate them out into two partitions then. One partition is non-shingled for whatever non-shingled tasks you want (ie: operating system, cache, etc...). Another one is shingled for data storage.

      Really, there should be multiple partitions. SSD hybrid drives should just be dual partition. One for SSD and the other one for HHD. Let the operating system decide what goes where upon installation and during usage. The OS could automatically assign tasks that need those faster response times to the SSD while assigning unused tasks to the HHD.

      The hard drives should probably be layered. One SSD partition for the OS and frequently used apps that require fast response times (but don't get modified often), one CMR partition for cache and less used apps and frequently used data files that require intermediate response times and get modified often, and one SMR partition for large data files that require slow response times, get accessed infrequently, and that don't get modified that often.

      Or, one SSD hard drive for operating system files and high priority apps

      One two partition CMR/HDR drive, the CMR section can be used for cache and frequently modified apps that require intermediate response times. The SMR partition can be used for long term storage of larger files.

      Two hard drives is better as you can get faster overall speeds (two hard drives can offer more bandwidth to the motherboard/processor than one and you can have more concurrent seeks and reads/writes). Plus you can still retrieve your data if the SSD crashes.

      Kinda like how the brain organizes information? You have information that you haven't used in a long time stored somewhere in the 'back' of your brain while more frequently accessed information is more readily accessible in the 'front'.

      • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Wednesday May 11, @04:58PM

        by RS3 (6367) on Wednesday May 11, @04:58PM (#1244100)

        As I mention above, there are host-managed drives, so what you're saying is already possible. :) In theory / on paper anyway.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @01:10AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @01:10AM (#1244235)

        On Linux, you can already use zonefs. One of its layered operating modes is almost identical to what you describe in the early part of your comment. Otherwise, using a zone-aware file system like F2FS is almost identical to the latter part of your comment.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @01:04AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @01:04AM (#1244231)

      All SMR drives have at least one CMR zone, usually multiple, as well. Unless you are running them in host-managed mode, that is part of the reason why their performance on random writes will start out relatively fine and then crater once the CMR zones are full until they are emptied again. Host-managed is a different beast, but most people don't really want to mess with their storage on such a low level.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, @03:36PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, @03:36PM (#1245119)

      But this is already done on the majority of shingled drives. They have a CMR write section that is normally used for 'hot' data and then the SMR section is the 'cold' archive section. When the hot CMR area fills up enough is when the SMR rings start getting backfilled and the performance drops to the terrible 10MiB/s or so that we've learned to hate about SMR drives.

      Personally I've gotten quite wary and am mostly sticking to smaller legacy drives for now, although cost efficiency may soon push me to 6-10TiB drives, as the ability to consolidate data overrides the safety margin of older and more reliable drives.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:24PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @01:24PM (#1244036)

    22TB and 26TB have no meaning... what is their capacity in LoC, or better yet in TSPC (Typical Soylentil's Porn Collection) units?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @04:43PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @04:43PM (#1244090)

    shingles [wikipedia.org]
    "Shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a localized area."

    yeah, that's what i want on my drives.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @05:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 11, @05:35PM (#1244116)

    -nomsg

  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday May 11, @10:11PM (1 child)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 11, @10:11PM (#1244186) Homepage Journal

    Sounds like they could make great replacements for magnetic tape drives. Yo know, the ones just written sequentially from the beginning, and overwritten the same way?

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Reziac on Thursday May 12, @06:29AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday May 12, @06:29AM (#1244312) Homepage

      That horrible noise you hear is the shrieking of millions of tape drives, all attached to the floppy controller....

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