Spinning Rust Gets A New Lease On Life
HDDs are still useful for some, just as tape drives are, offering away to store data less expensively when size is more important than speed. Data centres depend on HDDs to keep the cost of storing their backups down, you would certainly notice an increase in your monthly charges if they could only purchase SSDs for even cold storage. As it stands now you can still count on at least a half dozen SATA ports but that may change as PCIe NVMe drives slowly take over as the industry main storage medium.
Seagate has come up with a proof of concept PCIe NVMe HDD which might just offer a long term solution to this challenge. The drive is actually more flexible than you might think at first glance, the controller they designed is not NVMe only, it is also able to communicate via SAS and SATA as well. Having a single controller which can handle all three major interfaces will keep costs down, as it can be incorporated into traditional HDD as well as a new generation of PCIe NVMe HDDs.
This new controller will not bring the performance of HDDs to a level similar to SSDs, it will however allow future generations of HDD to exceed the speeds we see today, if the technology evolves in that direction. It may also help reduce the price of motherboards, as manufacturers will be able to opt to drop SATA and SAS ports from their designs, which could also increase the number of NVMe drives which can be built onto motherboards. Slashdot has more the rest of the details about Seagate’s NVMe HDD here, hopefully Seagate will provide more specifications in the future.
As explained in a company blog post, the proof-of-concept HDD is based on a proprietary controller that plays nice with all major protocols (SAS, SATA and NVMe), without requiring a bridge.