Last year, Seagate announced their 8 TB Archive HDD, and as of recently, this drive has actually become available through retail channels. It features both a very high storage capacity and a relatively low price per gigabyte. How did Seagate manage to accomplish this? And would the Archive HDD be a good choice for your PC or NAS? Read all about it in this review.
Although the maximum storage capacity of hard drives has been steadily increasing over the years, innovation seems to have slowed down as of late. While this can partially be explained by the rising popularity of SSDs, the fact that manufacturers are slowly approaching the limit of what's physically possible also plays a role. Using contemporary technologies, a capacity of approximately 1 TB to 1.2 TB per platter (the internal magnetic disks that make up hard drives) seems to be the most that manufacturers can offer. At the same time, the use of conventional methodologies allows them to house a maximum of five or six such platters within a 3.5″ enclosure. For example, Western Digital's 6 TB hard drives use five platters of 1.2 TB each.
Because of vibrations, placing more than six platters in a 3.5″ enclosure is essentially impossible. However, HGST has been offering professional, server-oriented 8 TB hard drives that utilize seven 1.2 TB platters. The manufacturer sealed these UltraStar He8 disks in an airtight fashion and filled them with helium. This approach results in less resonation of the platters, allowing them to be positioned closer to one another. Regrettably, it also results in fairly steep prices. As a result, filling hard drives with helium simply isn't a viable solution for consumer-oriented drives for the time being, as these need a friendlier price per gigabyte.
Seagate's new Archive HDD 8TB certainly has a friendly price tag, as it costs around $288 / £214 / €288 on average, making it about as expensive as a Western Digital Red 6TB. Just how does Seagate manage to offer a hard drive with such a high capacity at such a competitive price? The answer lies in the so-called Shingled Magnetic Recording technology.