Without increasing rotational speed the only hope for improving mechanical hard drive performance is through greater platter densities. There are other benefits realized through increasing platter density: larger capacities or lower noise and power consumption. Yesterday Hitachi GST announced the first 3.5" HDDs with 1TB platter densities.

Hitachi is using the 1TB platters to drive capacity in single-platter drives rather than chase after the 4TB+ market, although it's inevitable that we'll see efforts there as well. The Deskstar 7K1000.D and the 5K1000.B both use the new 1TB platters. Both lines ship with a 32MB buffer, varying only in their rotational speed. The 7K1000 spins at 7200RPM while the 5K1000 implements Hitachi GST's CoolSpin technology. Most drive makers replaced at least some of their 5400RPM drives with these ambiguously named technologies. The spindle speeds are optimized for each capacity point (e.g. a 3TB CoolSpin drive may spin at a different speed than 1TB/single platter CoolSpin drive). The speed of rotation is determined by balancing performance, power and acoustics, although it's never published. 

Source: Hitachi GST

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  • ltcommanderdata - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    It might be more useful if they used their 1TB platters to make HDDs with capacities larger than 1TB. Capacity afterall is one of HDD's primary advantages over SSDs.
  • taken0prisoners - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    The single platter being denser than previous platter designs should make data transfers faster on these smaller drives.

    Having two of these drives in RAID 0 would make for a decent alternative to a more expensive SSD solution while providing more storage space.
  • semo - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    Not at all. You will need dozens of HDDs to match the small file throughput of a single SSD. Also, there is absolutely nothing that you can do to an HDD to bring its latency down to what you get in an SSD.

    These larger capacities are useful for backups but then again, do you really want to place 4TB of data on one cheap device? I'm really starting to wonder what is the purpose of a 4TB drive.
  • jabber - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    Yeah it is scary. I get customers now asking me to back up 700GB of data off a failed 1TB HDD and they get most annoyed when I ask them if they have a spare 1TB HDD that I can copy the data onto if not I'll have to charge them an extra £60 for a replacement.

    Sorry chap no way I'm copying all that to DVD for you!

    Been asked to come up with a 4TB file server solution with backup for a customer. Getting scary crazy. Do you go with the £60 2TB drives or buy the £120 enterprise versions just in case? Cost and risk just get higher and higher.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    I don't see how things are really changing. The only reasonable backup media for consumer/prosumer data has been external hard drives for years now. HD capacity and user data amounts have, broadly speaking, been climbing in sync with each other.

    At least in the medium term I don't expect this to change. Longer term I'm not sure what's going to replace high quality 1080p video as the king of user world data. If nothing does I suppose a mass migration to the cloud might cause the amount of data users keep locally to plummet when storage/bandwidth costs become negligible but I'm confident that something will come up to replace it just as every prior king of network/user data has been dethroned by something that seemed impossible a few years ago.
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    <i>Been asked to come up with a 4TB file server solution with backup for a customer. Getting scary crazy. Do you go with the £60 2TB drives or buy the £120 enterprise versions just in case? Cost and risk just get higher and higher.</i>

    Well, you understand the risks and costs quite well. You just need to explain those to the customer and quote both solutions.

    The customer will choose the cheaper option and your ass is covered when things inevitably come crashing down.
  • taltamir - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Actually, SSD random performance & access time is almost 100 times faster than spindle drives.
    And RAID0 does nothing for access time.
  • anthony11 - Friday, September 30, 2011 - link

    For backups, 4TB drives vs 2TB drives mean half the number of disk bays that one has to provision. If a 12-way disk array costs, say, $3400, then for a ~500TB installation the difference means saving on the order of $34,000 (and 20RU) just on arrays, plus the 4TB disk itself is going to cost less than 2x what a 2TB does, plus having to buy fewer HBA's, less cooling needed, etc.

    For desktop/laptop users, 4TB means having a single backup volume without pumping additional cost/complexity into a multi-disk external enclosure.

    Advantages of SSD over HDD vary according to application -- there are some usage patterns where the SSD doesn't kill nearly as much as one would think.
  • nomagic - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - link

    From past experience, new generation HDDs usually experience significantly higher failure rate. We should wait for enthusiasts to beta test these drives for us unless you want to participate in the beta test as well.

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