New Technology Self-Encrypting HDDs give Massive 36TB storage for Portable ISR Workstation
Recent advances in rotating storage have allowed HDD manufacturers to stay ahead of SSDs in certain areas. When it comes to 3.5” HDDs, the new Seagate ST6000 enterprise class HDD is the King Kong of HDDs. By adding platters and some secret sauce (apparently), Seagate can now offer 6TB of storage in the standard 3.5” HDD form factor.
UPDATE: Seagate now testing 8TB HDD
Previously only Western Digital’s HGST (Hitachi) subsidiary had squeezed seven platters into a single 3.5-inch hard drive, for a total capacity of 6TB. This was only possible, apparently, because it had finally worked out how to commercialize hermetically sealed, helium-filled drives. Helium is thinner than air, meaning the platters meet less resistance, meaning they generate less heat and consume less power. See that announcement
But Seagate has one-upped them by increasing the recording density and getting to 6TB with only 6 platters and ditching the hermetically sealed case and helium filling.
To read all the details in the ExtremeTech.com article click: World’s Fastest 6TB Hard Drive
Go to Seagate’s website and download the ST6000 data-sheet.
Progress in HDD technology
How does this compare with the “Good Old Days”? Not too long ago a big announcements was the new XCOMP 10MB HDD. It promised unparalleled performance, more speed, more performance, etc., etc. It’s storage only cost only $339.80 per megabyte. The new 6TB ST6000 costs $.0001125 per megabyte in a smaller form factor.
36TB RAID Array
OK, but why would anyone care about that level of storage in a portable ISR workstation? It’s the Internet, or actually the lack of it. When the military deploys they leave the Internet behind and strike out alone with their relatively low bandwidth secure networks using satellite or digital radio. Since many of the geospatial databases the military relies are based on Google Earth, how does that work in the desert away from wireless, 3G, LTE, etc.
Why does this matter? It’s because of the massive size of the Google Earth database. How big is the Google Earth database anyway? I’m guessing absolutely huge, so here’s a quick estimate.
- Total area of the planet: 510.3 million km2
- Area of land emerged: 149.67 million km2 (29.31%)
- Area of the seas and oceans: 360.63 million km2 (70.69%)
- One image at 363 meters high resolution the GE database uses 300kb, average.
- For entire Earth ~1,579 Terabytes at one resolution, Maybe 100TB for all resolutions
I don’t know the size of the imaging for street view (for 360 degree views and all) but I’m guessing it’s a lot bigger than the birds eye view. So, maybe the total database is something in the 10s of thousands of TB. Anyway it’s pretty big and that’s why it’s in the cloud.
The solution when on deployment is to take Google Earth with you (or at least the part you need) by downloading to your local drive (That’s you need REALLY Big HDDs). How much is that? It really depends on how much you need, but it isn’t too far fetched to need 20-30TB go get all the detail you need for a specific mission area. For a description of how it works for non-military folk: Using_google_earth_offline
For the military, there are other ways to acquire the database under license and load on a team’s ISR workstation. But like all things computer, you can never have enough storage.
That’s why a MILSPEC computer maker Acme Government Systems (AGS) (www.acmemilspec.com) has integrated the new Seagate HDDs in its top end Xeon-powered ISR workstations. Because of security requirements, each drive is independently removable and can be stored in a secure location.
Most of the AGS geospatial ISR systems above can accommodate 18TB of local storage; but AGS also has the Godzilla of portable systems, the AGS-MCCS-23U (affectionately called by its users “The Beast”). This system can accommodate 36TB of local storage with six of the ST6000 6TB HDDs, has two independent dual-Xeon motherboards and three 23” 1920 x 1080 HD displays.
Operators want a really good look at the map data, so in addition to “The Beast”, AGS has a number of high-resolution HD display options and multi display ISR systems.
The MegaPAC has two 23” FHD 1920 x 1080 or two 4K displays positioned one above the other. The MILPAC (full MIL portable) has three folding side-by-side displays.
The AGS-RMDDU 17” and 23” rack mount displays have two side-by-side displays. The RMDDU is designed as the main display for militarized rack mounted ISR systems mounted in a deployable combination case.
Please contact me if you have any C4ISR or similar requirements – we have built many portable workstations, and semi-custom work is our bread and butter.