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

    Using the momentum of the drive platter to power the nand writes in a power loss situation instead of a battery/capacitor scores points for clever design.

    Outside of 512b legacy support does the driver need to write to the flash in normal operation? From the description it sounds like its not needed in normal 4k operation. If that's the case, how much does the increase in writes to it affect endurance when supporting a legacy platform?
  • bill.rookard - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    Remember, the NAND is only utilized during a power loss situation where the DRAM has data waiting for writing. Otherwise, the NAND just sits there doing nothing... whether the drive is emulating 512b sectors or not, the use of NAND is handled by the firmware when it detects:

    1) A power-loss condition
    2) uncommitted data in the DRAM buffer.
  • extide - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    Where does it say that? It says it is a Persistent Write Cache, so a Write Cache that is persistent, sounds to me like it would be used all the time -- perhaps it reserves some for use in a power loss situation, but even if it only has 8GB of NAND there is only 256GB of DRAM so you could still use most of the NAND as a cache even if you reserved 256MB strictly for power loss.
  • Samus - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    Reminds me of Toto's impeller generator for their auto flush solenoids. They have a tiny solar cell as well, but most of the energy required to charge the supercap and operate the solenoid is generated by the flow of water.

    Love seeing clever solutions to generate a bit of momentary power!
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    The headline says NAND cache, but the table says 256MB DRAM cache. Is this an error? Just curious how the NAND fits in here without it being a hybrid...
  • Kvaern1 - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    As I understand it the only purpose of the NAND (PWT) is to store the content of the DRAM cache in case of a power failure.
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    Yeah, if that's if it works, then that's really cool.
  • bill.rookard - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    From what I can gather through the article and logic'ing out what probably happens:

    The drive functions as a normal drive, with the DRAM cache to buffer incoming writes. The NAND sits idle. In the event of a power loss, the momentum of the spinning drive is used to maintain power to the DRAM cache and then powers up the NAND which it flushes the DRAM to until the stored writes are cleared out of DRAM.

    Then, when the drive powers up again, the controller will read the NAND for the not yet committed data, commit the data to the platter, flush the NAND and go idle and wait for data read/write requests.

    The nice thing is that this really does simplify board design, removes components like capacitors and such which take up space and can still be prone to failure, and utilizes the existing parts with few minor changes to the firmware and maybe an extra IC to siphon power from the motor during spin-down. Very clever.
  • ads295 - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    You're saying the momentum of the spinning drive is enough to power both the DRAM and the NAND?
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, September 28, 2017 - link

    I certainly should be more than enough. We're talking about 256MB of DRAM that has to be written to NAND. That's two low power ICs and the drive's controller getting a second or so of power from the mometum of seven disk platters spinning down from 7200 RPM. We aren't talking about a DIMM with like eight RAM chips or a full SSD so the electrical demand is going to be quite small.

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