Western Digital finally unveils 28TB HDD as race for 30TB reaches boiling point — but the Ultrastar DC HC680 remains a data center HDD that no consumers will be able to use

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Western Digital is cranking up the pressure in the race to 30TB with the launch of its WD Ultrastar DC HC680 HDD for data centers, which has a maximum capacity just shy of the landmark desired storage capacity.

The ten-disk hard drive, which is based on shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology, comes in three capacities including 24TB, 26TB and 28TB, and is specifically designed for data center customers looking to reduce costs.

The WD Ultrastar DC HC680 HDD also features improved OptiNAND technology that improves storage efficiency, energy-assisted magnetic recording (eAMR), triple-stage actuator (TSA), and HelioSeal for higher capacities while maintaining power consumption.  The 3.5-inch SATA drives also have a disk speed for 7,200RPM and a 512MB cache size. This is alongside a data transfer of upto 265MB/s. 

Seagate and WD go head-to-head in the race for 30TB

In launching this hard drive Western Digital joins Seagate in selling a 28TB-capacity hard drive, which is close to the 30TB-plus hard drives that Seagate, in particular, has long been touting for launch in 2024

The firm, at the moment, distributes a 28TB version of its Exos X24 HDD, but customers of its Exos Corvault storage system may also utilize 29TB hard drives based on heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. 

HAMR rivals SMR in that it can further reduce the size of beats in each track and pack more storage capacity into the hard drives being manufactured. It effectively means the biggest hard drives can get even bigger — with the technology theoretiaclly allowing for hard drives of up to 100TB in size.

Seagate is preparing to launch a 30TB hard drive, having already shipped samples earlier this year, but there’s also a 32TB and possibly a 50TB HDD being tested at the moment. Western Digital, meanwhile, has been laying the groundwork for the launch of hard drives that are at least 40TB in size, although there is no official launch date.

More from TechRadar Pro

  • These are the best hard drives out there
  • Seagate confirms that 30TB hard drives are coming in early 2024 — but you probably won’t be able to use it in your PC
  • Western Digital is preparing 40TB Ultra SMR hard drive as race to first 50TB HDD heats up

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Both companies are hoping to launch more-than-30TB hard drives next year… but who will strike first?