Western Digital’s Newest Hard Drive Is a 26TB Monster

Western Digital has announced its upcoming 22TB Ultrastar DC HC570 and 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 UltraSMR HDDs, the first of their kind. But in an age of super-fast SSDs, you might wonder what the point of releasing even more hard drives can do for us as a species – particularly us gamers.

HDDs may not be as fast as today’s SSDs, but capacity is still miles ahead. And with WD leading the way, those numbers are now reaching unprecedented levels. Within a decade, we will likely see capacities of 30TB, up to 40TB hitting servers.

Given the chance, we mere mortals would fit in 104 copies of 250GB DCS World, or 152 copies of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, which is 170 GB. But these bad boys aren’t about to accommodate your massive game library, full of unprecedented storage pigs. These drives must live to the cloud.

“As a long-time partner with the industry’s leading cloud providers, we understand their unique requirements in building next-generation cloud infrastructure,” explains WD’s Ashley Gorakhpurwalla. The company, as such, “has invested in a number of HDD innovations that we have developed alongside our area density technology.”

The plan? “To provide a roadmap that would also support the evolving economics of their data centers for decades to come.” It comes as a continuation of the announcement of WD’s 20TB OptiNAND HDD Monsters last year, and it works the same way, but with some saucy new installments.

The journey involved the launch of the energy-assisted PMR (ePMR), which allowed WD to put more bits per inch on its platters; OptiNAND, the lover of HDD and NAND technology; and now WD has arrived with the UltraSMR.

SMR, which stands for Shingled Magnetic Recording, is not a revelation in the HDD space. Shingled storage has been around since Seagate introduced it in 2013 and has increased potential storage capacity by about a quarter of what it was.

WD says the new UltraSMR has improved the technology by adding “large block encoding along with an advanced error correction algorithm that increases lanes per inch (TPI) to allow for greater capacity.”

That’s wonderful, but unless you have access to a server room with spare HDDs, we commoners are unlikely to get 26TB HDDs anytime soon. Not that we really need them. I mean, how many of us switch between 100 or more games that consume storage regularly?

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