Could Toshiba’s Latest Hard Drive Really Go Up Against SSDs?

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Posted on Thursday, July 4, 2019

SSD is best in call for both IO speed and capacity, so it is little surprise that hard disk drive sales are declining. But Toshiba is not yet ready to give up on the magnetic drive, investing heavily in new developments that will prolong the form factor.

A 16TB monster

Toshiba claims that the new MG08 disk is the largest available today using conventional magnetic recording (CMR) technology. To achieve that capacity, each helium-filled disk houses nine platters, with 18 heads to read and write data. A 512MB cache helps to speed up operations, too.

What changes the game is the way in which data is written to disk. The use of dual heads increases the accuracy of data read operations, therefore allowing the tracks themselves to be thinner and closer together. By reducing the gaps between tracks, the MG08 is able to increase capacity by 1.78GB per platter.

The use of helium inside the drives has also improved energy consumption. Toshiba’s range of air-filled drives average 7W power draw in standby and 11W while in use. The helium-filled MG08 is significantly more efficient, drawing just 4W in standby and 7W in operation.

More than just capacity

Perhaps the most surprising claim from Toshiba relates to performance at scale. According to their tests, a 60-disk RAID10 array using MG08 delivers an IOPS score of 15,262. A 10TB 8-disk SSD RAID6 array manages just 10,506.

If these performance statistics can be replicated in real-world data centers, CTOs may be able to lower their storage costs significantly. The MG08 could also offer a credible option for increasing capacity and extending operational lifespan of existing disk arrays.

Despite declining sales, Toshiba continues to invest heavily in hard drive technologies– not least because they still offer the lowest price per gigabyte for customers (excluding tape). Expect even larger disks (18TB+) to arrive next year as Toshiba bring their shingled magnetic recording (SMR) drives to market.

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