As traditional hard drives get denser, their performance gets lower. Then, Seagate is to release a dual-actuator drive which is the first such drive in 25 years. In this post, we will walk you through this Seagate dual-actuator hard drive for data centers. Keep reading now!

Traditional Platter Hard Drives’ Performance Have Decreased

Over the years, the performance of traditional disk drives has been greatly stuck although the capacity has been increasing steadily. The read advancements in I/O have been in solid-state drives (SSDs), especially when NVM Express has been used as the usual interface.

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The primary bottleneck of platter hard drives is the inherently mechanical design: the drive head must be moved through the platter to read and write data.

However, the increased capacity of HDDs causes a problem for data centers. As to IOPS (Input/Output operations per second) per TB, the drive density is bringing performance degradation, which has all the time been a problem of conventional hard drives.

And all the contents of the entire platter cannot be read immediately, but an actuator is needed to move a drive head around the platter so as to write or read data.

However, with the prospect of 20TB drives in 2020, the physical limits of traditional HDDs with increased density will force drive vendors to undertake hardware mitigations to continue offering the extent of performance that enterprise applications need.

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Seagate Dual-actuator Hard Drive for Data Centers Can be a Solution to Shrink IOPS

To solve the problem of decreased performance, Seagate is preparing dual-actuator hard drive for data centers and it brands as MACH.2, which allows drive arms to move all alone.

Jason Feist, Seagate Director of Technology writes in a blog post that Seagate Multi-Actuator technology will equip hard drives with two actuators.

“With two actuators operating on a single pivot point, each actuator will control half of the drive’s arms. Half the drive’s recording heads will operate together as a unit, while the other half will operate independently as a separate unit. This enables a hard drive to double its performance while maintaining the same capacity as that of a single actuator drive.”

As drive controllers and actuator assemblies develop across the paradigm of getting multiple autonomous actuators, there’s potential for development on this design. And the introduction of multi actuator, as well as Seagate MACH.2 branding, seems to lay the foundation of drives with more than two actuators with the increase of densities over the next decade.

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Giving a Second Life to a Long-abandoned Idea

Actually, this is not the first time that manufacturers have tried to use dual actuators to improve performance. In 1994, Conner Peripherals marketed Chinook brand drives with dual actuators. However, vibration issues and higher failure rates appeared since the drive provided two drive heads per platter surface.

But now, the MACH.2 design of Seagate dual-actuator HDD for data centers conforms to the 3.5 form factor. And it uses one drive head per surface, which will not bring higher failure rates like Conner Chinook drive.

According to Shashidhar Joshi, senior manager of technology strategy and product planning, Seagate is adopting techniques to mitigate cross-coupling of vibrations and allow fully asynchronous operation within the context of MACH.2.

And this company promises that these Seagate dual-actuator drives are under the same warranty terms as single actuator drives, with the same MTBF as those drives.

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