Western Digital has confirmed plans to once again leapfrog its competitor Seagate in the mechanical hard drive capacity wars, promising a 14TB 3.5in model by mid-2017.
According to details released by Western Digital this week, the upcoming 14TB drive is to be based on the company's existing HGST-branded 12GB UltraStar He12 but featuring a boosted areal density for additional capacity. Accordingly, it's possible to guess at the specifications the company has yet to officially release: The drive will feature a 3.5in chassis filled with helium to reduce drag and more efficiently transfer heat to the casing, come in SATA and SAS variants, and offer a 256MB buffer, 7,200 rotations per minute (RPM) platter speed, around 4.16ms latency, and a typical 8 millisecond read and 8.6 millisecond write seek time.
The drive is also set to be based on perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) rather than the shingled magnetic recording (SMR) chosen by rival Seagate for its highest capacity drives. Compared to SMR, PMR offers a considerably simpler storage system which does not require any optimisation in software or firmware for best performance - meaning that, in theory at least, the 14TB drive should be drop-in replacements for existing smaller capacity models without the need to modify any software.
For those eager to add some serious storage to their system, though, the following news is likely to be disappointing if not surprising: Western Digital is to target the data centre market with the new drive, as with its previous helium-filled drives, which could put its price out of reach of most hobbyists and enthusiasts.
Neither WD nor its HGST subsidiary have confirmed a formal launch date beyond mid-2017, and pricing has yet to be announced.