SAN FRANCISCO--HGST, the largest and most influential data storage company without a generally recognized name, launched a set of new products at a media event at the Palace Hotel on Sept. 9. They included an 8TB helium-filled HDD, an all-new server-side clustering and volume management software package, and new PCIe solid-state disk drives that slide into server slots.
Oh yes, it also has unveiled the world's first data center-class 10TB HDD for cloud and cold storage applications. That one's not quite ready for general distribution just yet, but a group of HGST customers is currently sampling it.
Rival disk-drive maker Seagate announced Aug. 26 that it is shipping the world's first 8TB storage hard drive, currently the industry's most capacious. But HGST now has matched that and soon will have the one-up with the 10TB drive.
HST's new PCIe solid-state disks are NVM Express-compliant, a term we're going to be hearing more as time goes on. The NVM Express specification defines an optimized register interface, command set and feature set for PCI Express-based SSDs.
PCIe cards, among the fastest server components now available, are based on a computer expansion-card standard using point-to-point serial links rather than a shared parallel bus architecture. PCIe-based flash storage bypasses traditional storage overhead by reducing latencies, increasing throughput and enabling efficient processing of massive quantities of data.
A lot of people don't recognize HGST immediately because the name is a recent rebranding acronym for Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. The company, now unaffiliated with Japan-based Hitachi, is a wholly owned subsidiary of U.S.-based Western Digital that develops and sells hard disk drives, solid-state drives, and external storage software and services.
For years, it was a virtually anonymous OEM storage hardware provider to all the major IT companies and to other large enterprises. Now, while it retains its robust OEM business, HGST is moving more and more to its own branded storage products and trying to prove itself an innovator at the same time.
Here is a rundown on the new products announced Sept. 9:
--8TB UltraStar He8 HDD: Now shipping; it is the company's second-generation helium-filled HDD. Because it is filled with helium instead of air, 3.5-inch Ultrastar He8 inherently has less drag on its internal components, enabling them to run cooler and with less power than standard HDDs. Being helium tight also enables it to be a lot more unaffected by external influences, such as flooding.
--Server-side clustering and volume management software, HGST Virident Space: This new package enables clustering of up to 128 servers and 16 PCIe storage devices to deliver one or more shared volumes of high-performance flash storage with a total usable capacity of more than 38TB. That is a very large amount of storage for most enterprises, even with the increased data flows most systems are experiencing.
HGST Virident Space provides a high-availability mirrored cluster managed through an advanced graphical user interface. It is ideal for shared storage applications such as Oracle RAC and Red Hat Global File System, which traditionally relied on dedicated SAN (storage-area network) storage. It also provides MySQL environments with new levels of availability and efficiency, HGST said.
--HGST is positioning its new 10TB hard drive (it has seven ultra-dense platters inside) as world's first data center-class 10TB drive for cloud and cold-storage (mostly archiving) applications. This drive uses a couple of cutting-edge technologies: HelioSeal technology and Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR). For more information, go here.
HelioSeal seals in the helium. SMR, which increases areal density, was named after roof shingles. Using SMR, relatively wide tracks are written to the disk and successively written data tracks partially overlap the previous ones, similar to the way roof shingles are applied. A key component of increasing data density in HDDs is making thinner data tracks and packing them closer together.
HGST, which was early to the party in designing and manufacturing NAND flash disk drives six years ago, was among the early pioneers that proved NAND flash could evolve from portable cameras and other small devices and work just as well in the data center as hard disk drives.
"This year is the year (according to a projection by Cisco Systems) that workloads in the cloud will supercede workloads performed on premises," CEO Mike Cordano told eWEEK. "Cloud is no longer the emerging thing; it's the predominant thing. When we look to develop our solutions, we look first at that."
HGST previously was a disk-drive maker that OEM'd most of its products to other large manufacturers, In 2008, the San Jose, Calif.-based company intitiated a joint-development agreement with Intel to develop enterprise-level flash storage drives.
As for HGST's place in the markets, solid-state storage industry analyst Jim Handy of Objective Analysis told eWEEK that "there are a number of sides to HGST. It's kind of a catch-all place to get into enterprise flash. But also they have their hard-drive side, and it sells its SAS (serial attached SCSI) , and that's why Intel partnered with them to make SAS SSDs, using the Intel basic structure."