30TB And Larger HDDs Will Be Here Soon To Solve Your Digital Pack Rat Problems

Closeup of a hard drive's platter and actuator
The mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) has survived decades of innovation in storage and a seismic shift to solid state drives (SSDs), which offer much faster speeds and no moving parts to worry about. No end to the HDD is in sight, either. That's because HDDs still offer a superior bang-for-buck for raw storage capacity, and they're about to breach the 30 terabytes threshold.

Head over to Amazon or Newegg and the largest-capacity HDD you'll find is 20TB. It's been that way in the consumer space for quite some time. However, that's about to change. Showa Denko, a Japanese outfit that manufactures the platters that go into capacious HDDs, says near-line drives offering 30TB and even more storage space will reach the market "by the end of 2023."

Showa Denko revealed that tidbit as an aside to announcing it has begun shipping newly developed platters that will comprise 3.5-inch HDDs checking in at 26TB.

"The new HD media support energy-assisted magnetic recording and shingled magnetic recording (SMR). This time, by introducing Showa Denko Group’s latest magnetic layer design and technology to produce fine crystals of magnetic substance on the surface of aluminum platter, we successfully developed HDD media which have storage capacity of 2.6TB per platter, the largest one in the industry," Showa Denka said.

These 2.6TB platters boasting 1TB/in2 of density will go into Western Digital's recently announced 26TB Ultrastar DC HC670 UltraSMR drives. However, this development also paves the way for even bigger HDDs with presumably denser platters exceeding 3TB in the not-too-distant future.

At the outset, we suspect 30TB HDDs will take aim at data centers and cloud storage providers. But these things have a way of trickling into the consumer realm somewhat quickly. Imagine filling a NAS appliance with multiple 30TB HDDs.

They won't be cheap, though. A 20TB HDD typically costs $470 to over $500, depending on the model. Even so, introducing even bulkier capacities can push down costs, at least in theory. It won't just Western Digital that releases bigger capacity drives, either. It's worth reminding that Toshiba recently shared a roadmap to 40TB and beyond.