Western Digital quietly producing dual-actuator disk drives

Western Digital is making a dual-actuator disk drive, the DC HS760, two years or more after Seagate introduced its twin-actuator MACH.2 tech with 14TB Exos 2X14 drives.

No public announcement was made by WD of its new Ultrastar DC HS760 and there is no datasheet for it on the company’s website, just a product overview. Neither did the drive maker wheel out any execs to make statements about industry-leading, SATA SSD-matching performance. 

Western Digital Ultrastar DC HS760

The HS760 is a nine-platter (2.2TB/platter) drive based on the 20TB DC HC560 conventional magnetic recording SATA/SAS interface drive. It has two actuators (read/write heads) and is logically seen by the host as two separate 10TB drives, logical unit numbers or LUNs.

The performance compared to the HS560 is up to 2x sequential throughput, meaning 582MBps, up to 1.7x random 50/50 read/write performance and up to 37 percent more power efficiency (IOPS/watt, random RW 70/30). Seagate’s twin actuator Exos 2X14 delivers up to to 524MBps. An Exos 18TB drive pumps out up to to 554MBps.

According to Western Digital’s product overview, it uses OptiNAND flash-enhanced, energy-assisted PMR (ePMR) technology. The actuators are triple-stage, and the drive is helium-filled. An ArmorCache write cache data safety feature ensures data isn’t lost if a power failure occurs. The drive has a projected 2.5 million hours MTBF rating, a five-year limited warranty and supports an up to 500TB/year per LUN workload.

The dual actuators take up more space inside the drive enclosure than a single actuator, and that may be the reason Western Digital hasn’t introduced the technology with its 10-platter drives. The HS760 will be a good fit for intensive mixed read/write workloads.