The big question is, why? Is it the future or just a novelty for the data center crowd?
Bye-bye SATA? Seagate’s latest creation melds a hard disk drive with the NVME protocol.
The company debuted the concept at a computing summit in San Jose, California, this week, and says it could pave the way for NVME adoption across HDD drives.
Obviously, the big question is, why? HDD drives, which store memory on a spinning disk, are far slower than SSD drives. For example, Seagate’s fastest HDD product, the Mach.2, maxes out at 524MB/second, which is still under the 600MB/s limit for the SATA III interface.
Hence, using the faster NVME protocol over PCIe may seem rather pointless. However, Seagate says its concept device can reduce the costs of owning HDD drives and simplify the interfaces needed to transfer data to them. This is especially important for data centers, which rely on numerous storage drives.
The prototype drive itself features connectors for NVME, SAS, and SATA. However, the concept means the industry could phase out SAS and SATA connectors, which can require proprietary drivers. Data centers could solely rely on NVME instead.
It’s also possible future HDD drives could get faster by using multiple actuators inside the drives to accelerate the data transfer speeds beyond 600MB/s. If that happens, then the drives would need a faster interface like NVME.
To create the concept, Seagate says it developed a 12-bay enclosure to carry the NVME HDD drives. The enclosure can then connect to a “PCIe switch,” which can fit inside a desktop PC’s motherboard. The result creates a “feature rich interface and simplified storage architecture,” the company says.
But don’t throw away your SATA connectors just yet. For now, Seagate’s concept is mainly geared toward data center operators, not to consumer PC builders.
The company plans on offering the NVME HDD drives to key customers starting next September, but as engineering demo units. Customer demo units will then become available in mid-2024.
“We plan to bring native NVMe interface technology to future enterprise and cloud HDDs,” a company spokesperson told PCMag in an email. “We are currently having conversations with client systems ecosystem partners regarding this technology. The timing of NVMe HDDs in client compute market is to be determined.”
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to note Seagate plans on offering the drives as engineering and customer demo units.
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Michael has been a PCMag reporter since October 2017. He covers a wide variety of news topics, including consumer devices, the PC industry, cybersecurity, online communities, and gaming. Please send him tips.
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