HGST unveils 10K RPM data centre hard drives with 12Gbps SAS

HGST's Ultrastar C10K1800 line combines high storage capacities with significant improvements in performance

HGST, formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, has unveiled a new line of 10,000 (10K) RPM enterprise-class hard drives that offer the perfect balance of price, capacity and performance for mission-critical applications in the data centre, according to the firm.

Due to be available in the reseller channel within weeks, the Ultrastar C10K1800 line combines high storage capacities with significant improvements in performance, thanks to technologies such as the 12Gbps serial attached SCSI (SAS) host interface and HGST’s media cache for boosting write performance.

HGST, now part of Western Digital, said it sees the drives forming a key part of a tiered storage architecture, alongside solid-state drives (SSDs), higher-performance 15K RPM drives such as HGST’s own Ultrastar C15K600 line, and slower, higher-volume drives.

Brendan Collins, US vice president of HGST, told V3 this segment of the market is driven by the price/performance ratio of SSD against high-performance hard drives, and that the C10K1800 line represents the “sweet spot” of price versus performance.

“You can get a boost in performance in terms of IOPS [input/output operations per second] per dollar when you go to 15K drives, but you also get an increase in cost per GB. When you go to SSD, you get a more significant boost in IOPS per dollar, but also a greater cost per GB. So if you look at the vast majority of applications out there, the 10K drive is actually the perfect balance between performance, capacity and price,” he said.

While SSDs offer very low latency for applications such as databases, the next tier down calls for capacity, and the C10K1800 line offers capacities of 1.8TB, 1.2TB, 900GB, 600GB, 450GB and 300GB.

However, HGST is also claiming a significant boost in performance over the previous generation of drives with the C10K1800 line, equating to a 2.5x increase in random-write speeds. This is partly due to a technology HGST calls media caching, which performs writes first to a dedicated area on the disk reserved for cache purposes, moving it to its proper destination on the disk during idle time.

Using a dedicated area of the disk for caching means that random writes do not impact on system performance, according to Collins, while avoiding the cost and complexity of having a flash-based cache built into the drive.

The other reason for the performance boost is the 12Gbps SAS host interface, which is now common across HGST’s SSD, 15K and 10K lines, Collins said.

“Most SSDs today are being designed around 12Gbps SAS rather than 6Gbps, and system designers are asking for the same interface across all the drives they are fitting, that’s why all these new drive families of ours use 12Gbps SAS,” he explained.

Other key features of the C10K1800 line are support for advanced-format options and security enhancements including Instant Secure Erase (ISE) and FIPS-compliant self-encryption.

On the advanced-format side, the new drives support the newer 4K sector format alongside traditional 512-byte sectors, and the transitional 512-byte emulation mode. The latter mode uses 4K sectors but translates on-the-fly to a system expecting a 512-byte sector drive.

One potential problem with this scheme is that it can cause a performance hit when a 512-byte sector has to be written back inside a larger 4K sector, but HGST said its media cache helps to alleviate this problem.

The C10K1800 line is being qualified now by system vendors and will also ship into reseller channel distributors, according to HGST. Pricing for the drives has not been disclosed, but Collins said that HGST has “designed more cost into the product to achieve the improvements in performance and capacity” and that this will be reflected in the pricing.

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Source: v3.co.uk

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