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The enormous hard drives are currently shipping mostly to data centers.

Seagate confirmed that it had begun shipping its 22TB hard drives to interested parties at its recent conference call with financial analysts and investors. The new 22TB HDDs are the most capacious models on the market, using shingled magnetic recording (SMR) to enable unprecedented capacity for hyperscale data centers. 

Dave Mosley, chief executive of Seagate, explained the move. He said their strategy “also provides manufacturing flexibility and improves our overall cost efficiencies across the breadth of our common platform family. That family currently spans 16TB through 20TB capacities for CMR products. He then added that “some customers” will stretch that range to 22TB using SMR feature sets. Mosley made the remarks on an earnings call, according to SeekingAlpha.

Target market is hyperscalers

Seagate’s host-managed 22TB SMR hard drives are available to select customers, primarily to hyperscalers that need to maximize storage density at data centers. These customers also have software that can take manage drives that use shingled magnetic recording technology. Since SMR HDDs are particularly slow when overwriting data, data center applications optimized for such drives have to write data sequentially (and preferably account for non-shingled zones used for caching) and make as few random writes or modifications as possible to maintain predictable performance. 

“All indications point to a very steep production ramp for our 20-terabyte products,” said Mosley. He said this had “the potential of surpassing the record setting ramp we saw for our 16-terabyte drives.”

Seagate is also continuing to work on heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) drives. The company has been testing these with some of its customers for a few years now.

The company has also said it was aiming for 30TB drives by 2023, 50TB drives in 2026, and 100TB drives by 2030.