Toshiba crammed 14TB into its first helium-filled hard drive

Toshiba has begun shipping a 14TB helium-filled hard drive to clients, its largest capacity to date and the company's first foray into helium territory. Of course, helium-filled HDDs are not new, and WD already released a 14TB HDD a couple of months ago. However, Toshiba's is the industry's first HDD to pack nine disks inside, and the only 14TB drive to use conventional magnetic recording (CMR) technology.

The new drive is part of Toshiba's MG07ACA series. It is available in both 12TB and 14TB capacities, both of which are CMR drives.

"We have raised the bar with the new MG07ACA Series 9-disk helium-sealed design," said Akitoshi Iwata, Vice President of Storage Products Division, Toshiba Electronic Devices and Storage Corporation. "By utilizing an innovative design, we continue to improve the benefits that high-capacity disk storage can deliver to our broad global customer base."

There are a couple of things to note about the 14TB model that make it stand out from the competition. The first is the number of disks, or platters, that Toshiba squeezed inside. Toshiba is the only company offering a nine-platter drive with 18 heads, with each platter having around 1.56TB of storage. According to Anandtech, Toshiba accomplished the feat by using Showa Denko's new offerings that are 0.635mm thick, down from 0.8mm platters in previous generation drives. Toshiba also shrunk the distance between the platters to 1.58mm.

The other interesting bullet point is the recording technique. Unlike the competition, Toshiba has not turned to shingled magnetic recording (SMR).

"While enterprise server and storage customers realize that shingled magnetic recording technology can improve HDD capacity, the adoption of SMR HDD products into server and storage systems is a transition that will take several years," said John Rydning, Research Vice President for hard disk drives at IDC. "Toshiba’s new helium-sealed enterprise HDD is the world’s first 14TB of storage capacity using conventional rather than shingled magnetic recording technology, giving enterprise customers the highest capacity HDD available in the market today for existing server and storage system architectures."

Related to CMR is performance. The 14TB model boasts up to 260MB/s of throughput, while the eight-platter 12TB model is not far behind at 250MB/s. Both of these are 7,200 RPM drives, with 256MB of cache.

As with most of the highest capacity drives on the market, Toshiba built this new series primarily with servers and datacenters in mind. That's often how it goes—the enterprise sector gets first dibs before trickling into the home consumer market.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).