Seagate pips Toshiba and WD to 24 TB drive

Seagate Exos X24
Seagate Exos X24

Seagate has announced the Exos X24 at 24 TB, the highest capacity nearline disk drive using conventional perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology, giving it a 2 TB capacity advantage over rivals Toshiba and Western Digital.

Update: WD sampling of unannounced 28TB SMR drive point added. 19 Oct 2023.

Seagate Exos X24
Seagate Exos X24

The X24 succeeds the Exos X20, a 20 TB maximum capacity drive announced at the end of 2021. Both drives are helium-filled, with ten platters spinning at 7,200 rpm, and use single-port 6 Gbps SATA or dual-port 12 Gbps SAS interfaces. They have five-year warranties and a 2.5 million hour mean time before failure (MTBF) rating. The X20 is fitted with a 256 MB cache, which the X24 doubles to 512 MB.

The latest model comes in 12, 16, 20, and 24 TB capacity points and features SED (self-encrypting drive), SED-FIPS, and instant secure erase (ISE). A 28 TB shingled magnetic media recording (SMR) version is available for a few cloud hyperscaler customers.

Seagate says the X24 has “enhanced caching that performs up to three times better than solutions that only utilize read or write caching.” Despite this, the X24 delivers the same maximum sustained data rate of 285 MBps as the X20.

A few months ago, Seagate CFO Gianluca Romano told financial analysts that this drive was coming and said it would be Seagate’s last PMR drive as increasing the areal density beyond 2.4 TB/platter was just not feasible. New HAMR (heat-assisted magnetic recording) technology will replace it, which, Seagate now says, is on track to begin ramping production in early 2024.

Toshiba’s highest capacity disk drive is its MG10F at 22 TB, announced last month. Western Digital has 22 TB Gold, Purple Pro and Red Pro drives that it announced in July 2022, along with the 26 TB Ultrastar shingled magnetic media recording (SMR) variant. These companies will now try to leapfrog Seagate with their energy-assisted magnetic recording tech.

Back in August we noted WD said it was about to begin sampling a new and as yet unannounced 28TB SMR drive. This suggests a 24TB conventional non-SMR drive might be coming as well.

Seagate says Exos X24 qualification drives are shipping to key customers and production drives will be available in volume for tech distributors in December.