Our recent interview with Seagate's CTO, Mark Re, gave us an idea about of the future of the hard drive market. As late as Q1 2016, Seagate had considered helium-based drives suitable for high-end applications only. However, the fast-changing competitive landscape, as well as changes in consumer requirements, have made it necessary for Seagate to re-evaluate the options. Today, the Guardian Series, consisting of a portfolio of 10TB helium-based drives, is being launched for various segments in the mainstream consumer market.

Seagate launched a 10TB helium drive for enterprise applications back in April. The technology is now making its way into 10TB drives for three different market segments:

  • Desktop computing, with the BarraCuda Pro
  • NAS units (1 to 8-bay) with the IronWolf series
  • Surveillance (NVRs and DVRs) with the SkyHawk series

One of the important aspects to note here is that only the 10TB drives are helium-based. All the drives being launched today are 7200 RPM drives and use traditional perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology.

BarraCuda Pro and FireCuda

The BarraCuda series also integrates a multi-tier cache, which involves drive-based management of various storage media on the disk (DRAM, flash and magnetic platters). The intent is obviously to improve responsiveness and, to an extent, also lower power consumption.

In the Compute market, Seagate is also bringing out a new SSHD (SSD + HDD hybrid) under the FireCuda SSHD branding (now, in both 2.5" and 3.5" form factors).


The IronWolf series is focused on hard drives for the NAS segment, currently served by vendors such as Synology and QNAP. One of the most interesting aspects of the IronWolf series is the integration of a rotational vibration sensor in the high-capacity models. This has traditionally been restricted to enterprise NAS drives, and it is a welcome feature. Seagate markets their NAS-optimized firmware under the AgileArray moniker. It includes drive balancing features (vibration dampening hardware control and RV sensor handling) as well as RAID-related features such as TLER (time-limited error recovery) configurations to avoid drives erroneously dropping out of arrays etc. It also includes specific power management features such as optimized spin-down / standby / sleep entry.

IronWolf is rated for workloads of up to 180TB/yr. Higher workload options include the Enterprise NAS HDD (300TB/yr) and the Enterprise Capacity HDD (550TB/yr)

IronWolf drives also come with the optional Seagate Rescue data recovery service (this is retained from the previous NAS HDD / Enterprise NAS HDD marketing feature set).


The final market segment that Seagate is addressing today is storage for surveillance / IP camera / NVR (networked video recorder) applications. This segment is forecast for huge growth, bringing high-capacity drives into the forefront.

The SkyHawk series will be addressing this market with firmware optimized for video stream recording (ATA streaming extensions support for up to 64HD cameras) and 24x7 operation. The workload rating is similar to the IronWolf series at 180TB/yr. The firmware also enables quick time-to-record when coming out of idle - something essential for scenarios where recording is triggered only when motion is detected. Helium-based drives also enable low power consumption and lowered heat dissipation requirements.

The SkyHawk drives also come with RV sensors and the series is supported by Seagate Rescue for data recovery. For large-scale surveillance storage requirements (say, 100+ cameras), Seagate suggests the Enterprise Capacity HDDs with a 550TB/yr workload rating instead.

Prices and Availability

The BarraCuda Pro carries a 5-year warranty, with the 10TB drive having an MSRP of $535. The IronWolf and SkyHawk drives carry 3-year warranties, with the 10TB drives carrying MSRPs of $470 and $460 respectively.

Seagate seemed to be late to the helium game, with both HGST and Western Digital coming out with a number of helium-based drives for different applications over the last couple of years. However, with the introduction of the Guardian series, Seagate has wrested the initiative by targeting multiple market segments. In particular, targeting the surveillance market that is forecast for huge growth will help Seagate in achieving economies of scale. That will, in turn, should make the price of drives such as the BarraCuda Pro 10TB more palatable to the average consumer.


Source: Seagate

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • icrf - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    That's about on par with the largest WD Red Pro drives on a $/byte basis. Depending on how close actual tracks MSRP, could even be cheaper.

    Though I would honestly argue in favor of a 5400 RPM drive for a NAS, save a little money and power. With an array and mostly large files being accessed over a network, I suspect there isn't a huge difference, though I don't use things like Time Machine.
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    Probably not. The drives doing >200MB/sec is of minimal value when the network saturates at about half that. (Some small gain might be seen by the cache on the nas being able to use the HDDs transfer speed to keep the network saturated during drive seeks. OTOH unless your data is badly fragmented those should be a rare occurrence.)
  • ZeDestructor - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    Some of us are running 10gbit LANs already. Right now I'm limited by the expander in my JBOD to a miserly 600MiB/s to my array (I should be seeing 1200-1600MiB/s with 8 disks).
  • BinaryTB - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    Agreed, give me 5400RPM for a NAS. Would rather have lower heat, noise, and price.
  • creed3020 - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    Wow that is a lot of new branding in one fell swoop for Seagate. New product lines based on previous products brought into a consistent theme is good to see. It appears the only thing really new in the 10TB capacity. Price really will be most important. I'm working on a NAS upgrade plan currently and going with HGST currently but nice to see a new option here with the IronWolf.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    It's ogre! HDD's are dead! SSDs won! Just give up!
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    Where can I get 10TB SSDs for $500-600?

    I'd love to be able to shrink my DIY NAS from a pair of stacked shoeboxes to a large hardbacked book; but the 12TB of flash I'd need to replace the pair of HDDs in it would cost several thousand dollars vs the ~$500 I paid at the end of last year.
  • Communism - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    SSDs are dead, RAM is so cheap now that you would be a fool not to simply run max ram and buy super cheap hard drives.
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - link

    It would cost me $6000 (real world price) to have had my backup I bought this April be on SSDs.

    And that would be TLC SSDs, AND more drives, AND SSDs aren't as reliable for longer term data storage. (And my mechanical drives are already way faster than I need them to be for my backups.)
  • bigboxes - Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - link

    And yet they're haven't.

    4TB SSD = $1,500
    4TB HDD = $150

    Not to mention unpowered SSDs are not a good idea for archived storage. Please feel free to inform us how dead HDDs are. LOL

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now