Seagate is launching a trio of 12TB hard drives today with a focus on the consumer market. The 3.5” drives build upon the 'PMR platters in a helium-filled enclosure' platform used in the 10 TB consumer hard drives released last year. The new 12TB drives target three different market segments:

  • Barracuda Pro Compute for desktops and entry-level direct-attached storage enclosures
  • IronWolf NAS for 1-8 bay home, SOHO, and SMB NAS enclosures
  • IronWolf Pro NAS for 1-16 bay creative professional and SME NAS enclosures

These are not the first 12TB drives in the market, as enterprise versions from both Seagate and Western Digital have been around for some time. However, Seagate is the first vendor to bring down the prices and ship 12TB drives in the consumer market.

From a hardware viewpoint, the three drives are similar to the Seagate Enterprise Capacity v7 drives launched in March 2017. All of them features eight PMR platters with a 923 Gb/in2 areal density in a sealed enclosure filled with helium. That said, the Barracuda Pro Compute, meant for desktop use, doesn't come with rotational vibration (RV) sensors or dual-plane motor balancing hardware. The RV sensors and the dual-plane balance / AgileArray features enable reliable performance in multi-drive enclosures. The other important differentiation aspects include firmware features, warranty / workload ratings, and value-added services like the Seagate Rescue Data Recovery.

The table below compares the characteristics of the three drives being introduced today.

Seagate Guardian Series 12TB HDDs
  Barracuda Pro Compute IronWolf NAS IronWolf Pro NAS
Model Number ST12000DM0007 ST12000VN0007 ST12000NE0007
Use Cases Content Creators Desktops / Workstations
Consumer Desktops / AiOs
Home Servers
Entry-level DAS Units
1-8 bay NAS Enclosures 1-16 bay NAS Enclosures
RPM 7200 RPM
Interface SATA 6 Gbps
DRAM Cache 256 MB
Maximum Sustained Transfer Rate 250 MB/s 210 MB/s 250 MB/s
Rated Workload 300 TB/yr 180 TB/yr 300 TB/yr
Power Rating Idle 5.0 W
Active 7.8 W
Standby / Sleep 0.8 W
Load / Unload Cycles 300K 600K
Non-Recoverable Error Rate < 1 in 10E15
MTBF Unknown 1M hours 1.2M hours
Warranty 5 years
(2 years data recovery service included)
3 years 5 years
(2 years data recovery service included)
Launch Price $430 $530 >$390 $470 $440 $540

HGST and Western Digital had come out with a number of helium-based drives for different applications before Seagate had even put out a single drive in that category. However, with the introduction of the Guardian series last year, Seagate wrested the initiative by targeting multiple market segments at the same time. The drives being launched today cement Seagate's position in the consumer HDD market - they have the highest-capacity drives for both desktop and NAS usage currently. Their helium production line also seems to have achieved economies of scale - the launch prices of the 12TB drives undercut the 10TB ones from last year by as much as $100 (Update: Seagate corrected the pricing information provided to us in the initial press kit after our article was posted. The cost is now much closer to the WD Gold 12TB @ $520. The WD Gold is meant to go against the Seagate Enterprise Capacity v7, and has a 550 TB/yr workload limit. This makes the pricing for the Barracuda Pro and the IronWolf Pro a bit hard to digest) The $/GB metric has come down, as the launch prices for the 12TB drives are approximately the same as what we saw for the 10TB drives last year. That is definitely good news for consumers.​


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  • Wolfpup - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    Thank goodness it seems like we're FINALLY getting regular capacity upgrades in drives again. Of course at crazy prices, but still, seemed like we plateaued at 4GB FOREVER.

    I've got 8GB drives now (over half full) and maybe when I need more space I'll buy one of those Drobos, 2 12TB (or whatever is largest) drives, throw those in, copy my data over, throw the 8TB drives in.

    Drobo seems cool, save that I'm a little leary about losing access to my data if the drobo itself ever died but the hard drives were fine.
  • JeffFlanagan - Thursday, October 5, 2017 - link

    $32.50/TB does not seem like a crazy price for a NAS drive.
  • Zingam - Sunday, October 8, 2017 - link

    Are you calling from the year 1999? We have Terabytes in the year 2017!
  • Maltz - Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - link

    You wouldn't lose access to your data when your Drobo dies if you understood that RAID ≠ Backups. :)
  • shodanshok - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    Smaller than top-of-the-line Ironwolves seems reasonably priced.

    However, when dealing with affordable enterprise storage, I settled on two setup:
    - WD Gold for SATA disks (ie: secondary servers, medium-sized NAS, ecc);
    - HGST Ultrastar He8/10/12 for SAS disks (virtualization systems)

    WD Reds and Ironwolves Pro seems a good choice for smaller NAS and servers, but recent price cuts on the WD Gold line really means that we can use them on anything but the cheaper system.

    That said, some system integrator provided us with 4TB Toshiba SATA hard drives and the experience is fine at the moment.
  • Cod3rror - Saturday, October 7, 2017 - link

    It's nice that 3.5" drives are getting bigger but what about 2.5" drives? I really want a 4TB 9.5mm 2.5" drive for an external enclosure.
  • DanNeely - Monday, October 9, 2017 - link

    Probably going to be a while. Gains from drives like this are just letting the makers stuff more platters in. Density per platter is only growing a few percent/generation (5-15%?). With HDD marketing people determined to have nice numbers for capacity, 2 platter drives will stay stuck at 2TB until a 1.5TB platter is available.

    Helium might allow squeezing a 3rd platter into that form factor; not sure since AFAIK none exist at present. If so, 3TB would be available off the bat, and 4 would be available a lot sooner. Although since the 1st 2TB laptop drives only came out last year it'd still probably be at least 1 or 2 density shrinks out.

    Getting a 3rd platter into a 9.5mm drive would be easier than the 7mm form factor; but it appears that the latter has completely displaced the former for the most recent generation. (Newegg lists over a hundred 2tb drives in 7mm only a single Samsung model in 9.5mm.) The shrink is presumably driven by laptop makers wanting to minimize the thickness penalty vs m.2 SSD models. And in a world where anyone upgrading laptop storage is almost certain to go SSD and external enclosures can just slap 2 drives in a RAID0 for capacity the 9.5mm form factor doesn't really have enough of a reason to exist anymore to justify its costs.
  • bigboxes - Sunday, October 8, 2017 - link

    It's nice that Seagate is offering better warranties again. However, I've left them for the more reliable HGST drives. I don't mind paying the increased cost for that. It would be nice not to have to use the warranty. I was replacing my Seagate drives on a regular basis. Can't wait until I get my data backed up in two places. Plan on doing that project in the coming week.
  • Luscious - Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - link

    Still rocking my four 8TB archival drives I bought TWO YEARS AGO for $250/each. ~$400 should be the right price for a 12TB drive. Bleeding edge gets the $100 mark up.
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - link

    If archival means SMR, then I don't care if they were $25.

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