One of STH’s sharp forum members, pgh5278, saw that the new Western Digital/ HitachiGST 6TB hard drive is now available for sale to end users. The Hitachi Ultrastar He6 is a major technological breakthrough as a hermetically sealed, helium filled platform that increases densities significantly over previous offerings.
As of 28 January 2014 there are several vendors with small quantities of 6TB drives for sale. Some prices from resellers scoring below 3 stars out of 5 on ResellerRatings.com are in the $600 range. There are several more reputable sellers on Amazon.com selling these drives for $800 each. It is fairly typical for new drive generations to have steep premiums at introduction. This should remain so while WD/ HitachiGST maintains a generational technology advantage.
Seagate announced it is shipping 5TB Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) drives in late 2013 but these are still very difficult to acquire. Rumor has it that Seagate should be releasing larger capacity drives in the next quarter or so.
This next generation of hard drives is important. Essentially a company can replace 3x 2TB legacy drives or even 1.5x of the newer 4TB drives with a single 6TB drive. This is the largest generational increment both nominally (2TB) as well as on a percentage basis (50% over 4TB drives) that the market has seen since the 2TB to 3TB generation leap. Fewer drives mean higher reliability in arrays since there are fewer components to fail (you can test this out on the STH RAID Reliability Calculator MTTDL Model.)
Fewer drives also means lower power consumption for a given capacity. That helps increase storage density in racks, as does the simple fact that one can fit more storage on a given number of storage ports.
Overall, this is a great development. 6TB drives are officially here to those beyond early access customers. Prices will come down in the next few months, especially once Seagate enters the market and provides competition for WD/ HitachiGST. If you have $800 to spare, you can be an early adopter of the new capacity drives.
If you want to read a bit more on the Hitachi Helium filled Ultrastar He6 drives you can read the press release here. For a bit more information, here is a video the company posted: