In early 2016, Samsung announced its 15TB PM1633a SSD, which at the time was the world’s largest SSD, dwarfing all competition. But not to be outdone, Seagate this month stunned the world by revealing a 60TB SAS SSD, quadrupling its rival’s capacity.
The Seagate drive was unveiled at the Flash Memory Summit in California, and should be available in 2017. 60TB is an enormous amount of data – equivalent to 12,000 movies or 400 million photos.
The Seagate unit is somewhat bulkier than the Samsung, as it uses the 3.5-inch hard drive format, rather than a standard 2.5-inch SSD format, but Seagate claim the drive boasts double the density of its rival, and offers the world’s lowest cost-per-gigabyte for flash memory.
Both drives are believed to use 3D NAND flash memory chips, which range in capacity from 256GB to 6TB each. While traditional circuits employ a flat 2D structure, 3D NAND technology vertically stacks layers of NAND cells to greatly boost storage density. Power consumption is estimated at 1W per terabyte.
Pricing is as yet unconfirmed, but given that the Samsung drive costs upwards of £8,000, it’s likely the Seagate will retail for close to £30,000. Which at £0.50 per gigabyte would be quite a reasonable price, if you really need that much storage capacity.
The drive is aimed at commercial use in data centres or large enterprise server systems. It supports both hot and cold data, allowing data centres to swap out their old 3.5-inch HDD drives for the new Seagate unit relatively easily.
Seagate believes the technology could potentially scale up to 100TB using the same 3.5-inch format. So for now, it appears that Moore’s Law is still intact, and the sky is the limit for storage capacity.
(Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors within integrated circuits doubles roughly every two years. The observation is named after Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor, who predicted this rate of growth would continue into the future.)