Hard Drive Performance Doubled: Multi Actuator Technology

    Seagate introduced a new technology for Multi Actuator hard drives, which doubled the read / write speed of the HDD. For this, the engineers divided the actuator moving the magnetic heads into two independent blocks.

    What are the advantages of the solution, we will tell further. / Flickr / Christian Riise Wagner / CC In a classic HDD, the magnetic head actuator is a one-piece design, so all writing / reading heads rotate synchronously. Seagate's Multi Actuator technology divides the actuator into two units that move independently of each other. You can see how it looks here .

    Two actuators allow you to split a physical disk into two logical ones. This means that the host computer is able to send a couple of requests to the device at the same time.

    According to Seagate, this approach doubled the speed of reading and writing data. However, Reddit users have already expressed their concerns about Multi Actuator, as the technology adds an additional point of failure and, in theory, increases the risk of information loss.

    Seagate says that the new drives will work with SAS, SATA or NVMe interfaces, but the range of interfaces can be expanded to suit the wishes of customers.

    Interesting that patentappeared on a hard drive with several actuators back in 1993. The copyright holder was Conner Peripherals, which was founded by Finis Conner, one of the co-founders of Seagate. However, the technology did not find popularity, as one of the Reddit residents believes , due to the high cost of production. And in 1996, Conner Peripherals was acquired by Seagate Technology.

    Where will the technology be applied

    Such concurrency will come in handy in hyper-scalable data centers, where hosts access data on several hard drives at the same time.

    Aaron Ogus, Microsoft Azure Storage Architect, said the two actuators will increase disk IOPS and allow virtual infrastructure providers to leverage data storage resources. Moreover, we can expect that in the future there will be disks with actuators, divided into 3 or more parts.

    Seagate says that Multi Actuator technology will appear in their products in the near future. This is probably about Exos discs that use Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording ( HAMR)) to increase the capacity of the HDD. Exos test batches will appear in 2018, and mass production will begin in 2019.

    However, as The Register residents note , Multi Actuator technology will not reach personal computers soon, since home PCs do not generate a large number of overlapping read / write requests, and a similar system will be redundant.

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