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Seagate to ship 5TB hard disk drives next year

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Seagate on Monday announced that it has sold more than one million hard disk drives using a new technology called shingled magnetic recording, or SMR. With the read/write heads already as small as they can physically go in the company's latest 3.5-inch drive with 1TB platters, SMR offers a relatively simple technique to squeeze more data with the same drive heads and disk platters.

SMR works by writing data tracks in such a way that they overlap slightly, allowing more tracks to be squeezed onto each platter. This works because the read head is narrower, and continues to read the unaltered part of the track without problems. SMR works best on a new HDD where tracks are being written sequentially, as a cluttered HDD may force the rewriting of certain tracks to avoid the unintentional destruction of data.

In its announcement, Seagate says that the use of SMR will allow the company to improve areal density by 25 percent to 1.25TB per disk, making it possible for the company to ship a four platter HDD with 5TB of capacity next year.

The Fierce Take: Seagate has declined to disclose the drive models using SMR today, and would only say that "system makers that use them know they're using them," according to a Computerworld report. This seems to suggest that the initial 1M batch of SMR drives are closely monitored to validate their real-world reliability. This in turn means that Seagate now has the hard statistics to back its projection of shipping 5TB HDDs by next year.

For more:
- check out this article at AnandTech
- check out this article at Computerworld

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