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Oct 27 2016

Spinning at the Speed of Sound: Seagate Launches New Server-Class HDDs

"HDDs in an OLTP scenario? You gotta be kidding!" That's the standard response IT administrators would likely get if they dared to suggest such a solution in these days of ever more affordable SSDs. Hardware developers at Seagate, however, don't seem to find the idea quite as absurd – or else they wouldn't have come up with the new, sixth-generation Seagate Enterprise Performance 15K HDDs.

According to the company's press release, the drives are specifically designed for enterprises and CSPs that need to "move critical data where it's needed fast to ensure smooth and seamless connected experiences" for their employees and customers. At the same time, the fresh product line is supposed to lower TCO "through high reliability, security and easy data center integration." In other words, Seagate treats these drives as a proper alternative for powering mission-critical applications in scenarios where SSDs would either be too costly or too complicated to deploy. Potential use cases include OLTP, big data analytics and data warehousing; beyond that, Seagate figures its new drives will play well with SSDs as well and may thus simplify future transitions.

Also dubbed generation "15K.6," the new drives come in three sizes of 300, 600 and 900 GB and offer sustained read/write rates of up to 300 and 210 or 315 and 215 MB/s, depending on whether Seagate's read caching technology TurboBoost™ (not to be confused with Intel's nearly eponymous CPU accelerator) is activated or not. This marks a 27% increase in sequential data rates compared with previous-generation 600 GB drives. Random transfers get an even more massive boost – Seagate claims that random write rates are up 100% from 15K.5 drives, however without citing clear IOPS. Mean time between failures is rated at 2 million hours, and the annual loss rate – i.e. the number of drives that collapse within a 12-month period – clocks in at 0.44%, which is also extremely low. The entire 15K.6 family consists of a total of 16 models with different feature sets, including self-encrypting drives with or without FIPS 140-2 validation for enhanced data protection and drives with Instant Secure Erase technology that are easier to recycle/reuse. Moreover, customers can choose between various drive formats: the new drives are either available as 512n or as Fast Format™ models that support 4Kn and 512e formats to increase performance.

Seagate's 15K6 family of drives is scheduled to appear in Q4/2016; prices were not disclosed.


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