WD will make a record-breaking 14TB hard drive available next year

WD is now shipping a 14TB version of its helium-infused hard drive to customers for testing

With its enormous capacity, a new 14TB drive from Western Digital is unlike any seen before and is now being shipped to customers for testing.

It's the highest-capacity hard drive developed yet, beating 12TB hard drives from WD and Seagate. It's a larger capacity version of the 12TB HGST Ultrastar He12 PMR hard drive, which also is shipping for testing.

Hard drives ruled when it came to capacity, but this year were overtaken by flash-based SSDs. The 14TB drive, though setting a record for hard drives, comes nowhere close in capacity to Seagate's 60TB SSD, which was shown at the Flash Memory Summit in August.

WD's 14TB hard drive is mainly for data centers, which need large-capacity drives to hold troves of information related to databases, social networks and cloud applications. The drives are infused with helium, a gas lighter than air and used in balloons, which improves the life and power efficiency of hard drives.

The 14TB drive will be available in the middle of next year, a WD spokesperson said. The price yet has not been determined.

While SSDs are replacing hard drives in new PCs, hard drives still have value in data centers. Hard drives are cheaper than SSDs, and can be used for long-term storage of data not regularly accessed. An array of 14TB hard drives could provide massive storage capacity for cloud and database applications.

WD has been strengthening its storage portfolio by acquiring companies like SanDisk and HGST, which has a history of developed the high-capacity hard drives. The SanDisk unit announced SanDisk Edge, a microSD card with stacked NAND flash for use in robots, drones, dash cams and surveillance systems. It offers capacities up to 256GB, but the shipping date for Edge wasn't immediately available. HGST is also developing enterprise SSDs tuned to emerging applications like machine learning.

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