Toshiba has announced its new enterprise-grade MG06ACA-series hard drive with a 7200 RPM spindle speed and up to 10 TB capacity. The new units have a new design as well as up to seven platters. Performance and reliability ratings of the MG06ACA-series drives are on par with other enterprise-class HDDs. In addition to the 10 TB model, Toshiba also has a 6 TB and an 8 TB model in the MG06ACA lineup.

Toshiba’s 10 TB hard drive is based on the company’s new platform featuring up to seven PMR platters along with a 7200 RPM spindle speed and the company’s persistent write cache. Toshiba’s PWC with power loss protection (PLP) stores data that is not yet written to the HDD media. Previously such feature was only found on enterprise-grade 10K and 15K hard drives to improve reliability, but Toshiba is installing it on nearline drives as well. There are several circumstances when the PWC with PLP can be useful. First, when the HDD write cache contains data not yet written to media and a power loss happens, the data is automatically moved to non-volatile memory (the drive collects energy from the spinning media). Second, when a drive with 4K sectors emulates 512B sectors, it has to perform the read-modify-write (RMW) operation to align the source write request with the physical sectors it has to modify and thus uses write cache. This slightly reduces system performance because it requires an extra spin of a disk (or more) and if a power loss occurs, a significant amount of data may get lost. Clearly, if a power loss takes place before the data is transferred to the PWC, it is gone anyway. Speaking of reliability in general, Toshiba rates the MG06ACA HDDs for 550 TB annual workload as well as for 2.5 million hours MTBF rating.

Toshiba does not say whether its 10 TB HDD uses helium, but based on power consumption (up to 10 W) and images of a disassembled drive that lacks hermetic capsule (that has a very distinctive look), the manufacturer has managed to squeeze in seven platters into a drive without using helium. Such move makes production of the drives a bit easier, but at the cost of slightly higher power consumption and a bit lower performance in some cases. Keep in mind that the persistent write cache also consumes power and therefore increased power consumption may also be a result of higher reliability.

Brief Specifications of Toshiba's MG06ACA HDDs
Capacity 10 TB 8 TB 6 TB
P/N 4K Native MG06ACA10TA MG06ACA800A MG06ACA600A
512e MG06ACA10TE MG06ACA800E MG06ACA600E
RPM 7200 RPM
Interface SATA 6 Gbps
DRAM Cache 256 MB
Persistent Write Cache Yes
Helium-Filling Unknown, likely not
Sequential Data Transfer Rate (host to/from drive) 249 MB/s 241 MB/s
MTBF 2.5 million
Rated Annual Workload 550 TB
Acoustics (Seek) 34 dBA
Power Consumption Random read/write 10 W 9.1 W 8.3 W
Idle 7.3 W 6.4 W 5.6 W
Warranty 5 Years

Update 9/29: The initial story incorrectly presented MiB/s as MB/s, leading to incorrect performance expectations. The update fixes it.

When it comes to performance, the 10 TB MG06ACA HDD is a tad slower than is in line with competing 10 TB HDDs featuring helium inside — it is speced for 237 MiB/s (249 MB/s) sequential data transfer rate, which is slightly lower compared to around 255 MB/s offered by 12 TB rivals. If the drive is not helium-based, this slightly lower performance is explainable — it is harder for arms and heads to move in air environment (which has 7x higher density than helium), so “air” drives are a bit slower than helium-filled HDDs. On the other hand, the 6 TB and the 8 TB MG06ACA-series hard drives are speced for 230 MiB/s (241 MB/s) sequential data transfer rate, which is faster than many competing HDDs of the same capacity. Unfortunately, Toshiba does not disclose which platters it uses for the lower-capacity MG06ACA drives.

At present, Toshiba offers its MG06ACA drives with the SATA interface. In addition to regular HDDs with 4K native sectors, there are versions with 512e sectors as well as flavors with Sanitize Instant Erase (SIE) feature.

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Source: Toshiba

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  • DanNeely - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    They also don't need to do anything fancy in the flash with block management or wear leveling; just treat it as a 256MB buffer and do a sequential write. Probably they only thing they're doing is tracking bad blocks to avoid them.
  • jozevolf - Thursday, September 13, 2018 - link

    PROBABLY is the word. PROBLEM is, it simply doesn't work, at least not on this model. I have 10 of these drives (MG06ACA10TE) and using it in ZFS system. If I mark these drives as having non-volatile cache in my OS (OmniOS; /kernel/drv/sd.conf: sd-config-list = "ATA TOSHIBA MG06ACA1","cache-nonvolatile:true";) and power off the system by unplugging power cords during heavy writing, the ZFS gets corrupted.

    The drives also don't ignore cache flush command which they should if Toshiba engineers were confident enough in their Persistent Write Cache/Power Loss Protection technology.

    I've tried the same with ZFS on Linux. Pool of mirrored vdevs, consisting of only these drives and zfs_nocacheflush module parameter set. Same result: ZFS corrupted.

    Toshiba is also ignoring all my support requests regarding this problem. Is there anybody out there using these drives?
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    "If the drive is not helium-based, this slightly lower performance is explainable — it is harder for arms and heads to move in air environment (which has 7x higher density than helium), so “air” drives are a bit slower than helium-filled HDDs."

    Anton, apart from the density difference that's wrong. The sequential performance of HDDs depends solely on spindle speed and linear bit density. The helium filled drives are faster because they can use higher density platters. I think that's because there's less vibration due to friction.

    What you're saying would result in different access times. However, moving the heads quick enough is never a problem - just use a stronger motor. Moving it precisely enough is challenging. And the practical limit to access time of a HDD is the time it takes the platter to rotate to the proper position. Which helium filling doesn't change.
  • Anton Shilov - Friday, September 29, 2017 - link

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, MrSpadge.

    In fact, I incorrectly read MiB/s vs. MB/s and then tried to explain it. Now that I've fixed everything, the drive looks to be on par with its 10 TB rivals when it comes to sequential data transfer rate.

    As for precise head positioning, HGST says that helium indeed helps with this as fluid flow forces affect head positioning. The problem is that HGST has used a different micro actuator with its He drives than it used for other drives, so we cannot really tell whether it's helium or helium + micro actuator or the micro actuator alone.
  • andychow - Sunday, October 1, 2017 - link

    The helium allows you to use more platters. A rotating disk in a fluid (air and helium are compressible fluids) creates laminar flow. Too much laminar flow becomes turbulent flow. With helium, you can have either more platters at the same speed, or higher speed with the same amount of platters, without introducing more turbulence i.e. vibrations.

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