Toshiba's storage division has become the first company to promise a 16TB 3.5" mechanical hard drive to use conventional magnetic recording (CMR), rather than heat- or microwave-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR or MAMR) - though it is relying on filling the cases with helium.

The ever-dropping cost of solid-state storage has begun to bite on the mechanical hard drive market, leaving manufacturers concentrating primarily on increasing storage capacities. The current race is to be the first company to hit 16TB, with Seagate announcing an early lead late last year using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) to cram 16TB into a single 3.5" chassis, though the Exos drives have yet to actually hit the market. Rival Western Digital, meanwhile, has begun sampling its own 16TB 3.5" drives - and is targeting releasing an 18TB model by the end of the year - using microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) technology to boost areal density above traditional drives.

Toshiba, meanwhile, is opting for a simpler approach: Replacing the air inside a 3.5" drive with helium, a proven technique for decreasing drag and improving heat transfer, to create a 16TB 3.5" drive using conventional magnetic recording (CMR). 'Toshiba has delivered its industry-leading 16TB capacity and improved power efficiency by utilizing the 9-disk helium design, introduced last year in 14TB models,' explains Larry Martinez-Palomo, general manager of Toshiba's hard drive business unit, 'and its own advanced precision laser welding process to ensure the helium remains sealed inside the drive case.'

According to Toshiba's specifications, the enterprise-targeted MG08 16TB hard drive spins at 7,200 revolutions per minute (RPM), comes with 512MB of cache, a choice of SATA or SAS interfaces, and offers a 550TB per year workload rating and a 2.4 million hour mean-time-to-failure (MTTF). The company has not, however, shared pricing, nor has it given itself a launch date beyond promising to begin sampling the drive with customers this quarter - meaning the race is now on between Toshiba, Seagate, and Western Digital to become the first company to land a 16TB 3.5" mechanical hard drive on shop shelves.


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