Re: Is HDD market a cartel ?
Gulp!! I work for Seagate. These misconceptions in this post are disappointing and are sometimes repeated. I'd just like to clarify some points.
Each company spends more than $1Bn per year on research and development. HAMR Heat assisted magnetic recording, with a roadmap to 20TB by 2020. The heads needed for this technology use 3 separate quantum effects, some of which quantum physicist weren't even aware 50 years ago.
A 1TB drive today has >100km of track on it, and the head flies at 128kph at a height of about 1/60th the wavelength of light (i.e. about 10 air molecules). The head sucks up or writes bits at >1 Billion bits per seconds. Oh and it all costs less than a pair of hair straighteners!
"HDD prices remain high - consumer always loses"
The cost of a Gigabyte of HDD storage has fallen in 20 years by a factor of about 500,000.
In 1981 our drives cost $340,000 per gigabyte - now it costs $0.07 per gigabyte.
Why the poster says a HDD company would deliberately increase failure rate, I don't understand. There's interplay between capacity and reliability. It's really easy to double capacity - by doubling the bit density or the track density - but then the reliability tumbles. It's really hard and requires significant R&D to get reliability back to where it was. If a HDD company had reliability headroom, would they not use it to drive more capacity???
As for the point on reliability of desktop versus NAS/nearline versus enterprise drives, it is difficult to demonstrate on a single sample (of course) or even with experience of a few tens or hundreds of drives. BUT IT IS REAL. We make 60 million HDDs a quarter. We have the data. There are as many as 15 points in the manufacturing process where the output is a normal distribution (roughly) of reliability. Consider balancing the platter alone. Consider the 'roundness' of bearings. Consider the flatness of the media surface or the distribution of thickness. All of these contribute to reliability and MTTF. We can yield drives from the reliable to the very reliable on this basis alone. In addition, there are totally separate designs for different environments that affect MTTF. Some drives can tolerate constant access, 24 hours a day, >100 IOs per second, for 5 years with an AFR of <1%. Others a few hours a day, light loads with a failure rate of >1% If you use the latter in the former environment you will save yourself a few dollars on purchase cost, but the AFR goes through the roof.
The HDD guys are good guys and gals. Seagate is >57,000 people, who turn up to work everyday to do a great job. They amke about 450 drives every minute of every day, that store about 40% of the world’s data. Personally I think that's awesome and is a testament to man's ability to organise himself. Trust them!