Seagate, Marvell, Fujifilm And StorCentric Announcements, Storage Products And Storage Sustainability

Let’s catch up on recent announcements by Seagate on 20TB conventional recording HDDs and storage platforms and Marvell’s shipment of 5 billion HDD controllers including new controllers for NVMe HDDs.  We also include recent Fujifilm research showing how magnetic tape can improve data center sustainability.   Finally, StorCentric announced its Nexsan Unity Software v7.0 release which includes  important enhancements to power enterprise-class security, compliance and ransomware protection.

Seagate announced that it was ramping up production of conventional magnetic recording (CMR) HDDs with capacity of 20TB with its Exos X20 and IronWolf Pro 20TB HDDs.  The IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD is made for NAS applications with built-in rotational vibration sensors and supporting user workloads rate limits of 300TB/year.  The IronWolf Pro 20TB HDD is shown below.

Seagate says the 20TB Exos X20 delivers performance for hyperscale data centers and massive scale-out applications. With low latency of 4.16ms and repeatable response times, Exos X20 provides enhanced caching that performs up to three times better than solutions that only utilize read or write caching. Exos X20 also delivers an increased sustained data rate (SDR) of up to 285 MB/s and has a 2.5M mean time between failures (MTBF). The Exos X20 can used in its Exos CORVAULT intelligent storage system, which can accommodate 106 Exos HDDs in only seven inches of rack space and over 2.12PB of storage capacity.

Seagate also announced its new Exos Application Platform with a new controller featuring 2nd gen AMD EPYC processors.  According to the company, Exos AP options with the all-new AP-BV-1 controller, offer exceptional compute and storage performance in a single chassis. With dual AMD EPYC processor-based controllers, the system delivers high availability or controller partitioning, with the flexibility of a common controller slot allowing connection to additional EXOS E SAS expansion units in matched chassis. 


AMD EPYC processors offer a combination of features to help support the need for advanced storage solutions. In the Exos AP Enterprise Data Storage System Controller, AMD EPYC processors offer core counts of 8, 12, or 16 for varying levels of performance. The processors also provide the solution with dedicated PCIe® 4 lanes that deliver 200GbE network connectivity, and high bandwidth to SAS controller for faster HDD and SSD response. Finally, the Exos AP system supports 25GbE on the motherboard

Marvell announced that it will ship its 5 billionth hard disk controller in January 2022.   Marvell has been delivering data storage solutions for 24 years.  The company said that its comprehensive suite of Bravera HDD controller and preamplifier solutions leverage the company’s IP and process excellence including over 1,500 HDD-related patents and 18 generations of Read Channel IP.   The image below was from Marvell’s analyst day briefing event.

As indicated on the slide, Marvell is working to introduce HDDs using the NVMe interface and thus able to work on the same PCIe bus as SSDs.

Fujifilm briefed me recently on the environmental advantages of using magnetic tape for cold storage applications in data centers.  According to a 2019 INSIC report, data centers generate up to 2% of global COemissions.  Information technology (IT) overall consumes about 7% of global electricity generation and this is projected to rise to 13% by 2030.  After processing and moving data around, digital storage consumes a noticeable amount of data center energy.  HDD arrays remain on all the time and thus consume more energy than a magnetic tape library where data sits on magnetic tape cartridges not using any power except that required for environmental control until needed when it is move to a drive for reading or writing data.  

Fujifilm did a joint project with IDC to estimate the potential carbon savings if data center managers put colder data in magnetic tape to optimize costs, reduce energy use and improve overall TCO.  IDC used its data growth projections (estimated at 27% CAGR) and the data lifecycle in the energy/carbon consumption estimates (energy use growing 31% on average from 2017 to 2020).  IDC also assumed 20,000 large or mega data centers WW by 2025.  The calculations are based on storage system type (HDD or tape) and CO2generated per MWh.  IDC estimated that 60% of stored data is cold and could be stored on magnetic tape. The figure below shows the resulting estimate.

The IDC/Fujifilm study estimated that migrating cold data from HDDs to tape can reduce carbon emissions by 43% and the cumulative carbon savings would be 665 million metric tons of CO2.  In addition, magnetic tape storage is considerably less expensive per TB than HDDs and is usually used twice as long before replacement than HDDs, resulting in a lower TCO for data storage.  A survey of 1,200 C-level international executives by Fujifilm and Panelbase showed that sustainability is an important factor in business decisions.  A study by Brad Johns, sponsored by Fujifilm, indicated that storage on tape consumes 87%  less energy than equivalent mounts of HDDs and reduced TCO for storage by 86%.

StorCentric announced its Nexsan Unity Software v7.0.  According to the company, v7.0 includes important enhancements to power enterprise-class security, compliance and ransomware protection. The new Unity software now supports Object (S3) protocol, immutable snapshots, object locking, as well as offers an up to a 40% performance (at up to 13GB/s) increase over version 6.0 of Nexsan Unity.   The company says they get up to a 50% increase in Unity to Assureon Ingest rates as shown in the figure below.  The product also supports up to 100Ge Ethernet as well as 32G Fibre Channel interfaces.

Seagate ships 20TB conventional recording HDDs and new storage system platforms using their HDDs. Marvell celebrates shipping 5 billion HDD controllers.  Fujifilm shows sustainability advantages for tape to store cold data.  StorCentric releases its Nexsan Unity 7 Software.

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