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BFV's Big Interview: G-Technology

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Designing high performing and reliable storage solutions, G-Technology allows professionals to enhance their storytelling and bring to life their moments of creativity at every stage of the creative process, from capture and ingest, to editing and final production. This month, the company talks to BFV about the recent developments in storage technology...

There's a lot of focus recently on Mobile SSD, is it time to replace all of my Hard Drives?
When it comes to the question of SSD vs HDD and which is best, it's a Porsche 911 vs LandRover question... one is nimble, lightweight and fast, and one is a high capacity load-lugger! The ideal mix depends entirely on your own personal workflow but SSD as the front end data ninja is becoming hard to ignore as data rates and file sizes increase. With RED's new MONSTRO 8K VV sensor delivering UHD and HFR 8K @ 60fps at up to 300 MB/s, you need your storage to step up to the growing output of your media. While they are poles apart in size, a pocketable 2TB G-Drive Mobile SSD R-Series (a runaway hit at IBC!) and a 96TB G-Speed Shuttle XL in a Peli case are ideal partners for a shoot addressing multiple touchpoints of your workflow.

When it comes to SSD technology, we hear a lot of talk about 3D NAND, what are the practical benefits?
2D NAND, aka Flash memory which is the building block of an SSD, hit the limit of current physics on the 2D plane as the cell size decreased and the bit-count increased, essentially causing overcrowding and forcing the architecture to go high-rise. Much like building apartments vs single storey housing to maximize accommodation density, this allows higher density storage to be created in the same footprint. Not only does it allow an increase in capacity, it also has additional benefits of increased speed, endurance and lower power consumption.

G-Technology recently upgraded all of its Thunderbolt 3 and G-RACK series products with Helium filled drives, what's the benefit?
Helium is about 1/7th the density of air so reduces turbulence and drag, allowing you to achieve less noise and power consumption in the same footprint. The He12 series facilitates the use of slimmer platters, now moving to 8 instead of 7 yielding a 20% increase in density per drive bringing us up to 12TB drives, enabling a 144TB G-RACK. In its fourth generation, with over 20 million units shipped, it is reliable technology, proven in the field that is a fundamental ingredient of our Professional drives.

Beyond Helium, what's this new MAMR technology from Western Digital that promises 40GB hard drives in 2019?
Western Digital have been working on future technologies to maximise the potential of hard drive media and much like 2D limitations drove NAND to 3D, the method of writing data to platters in a hard drive is continually evolving and led to the recent announcements in MAMR technology (Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording). Current technology uses PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) analogous to how a vinyl record is created with concentric lines on a disc. You eventually hit the limit of how narrow and closely spaced the tracks can be (Tracks per Inch) without causing difficulties accurately creating the tracks and accordingly causing the stylus and needle (Micro Actuator/Write Head) to jump out of the groove and skip during playback, causing read errors. By changing the way the tracks are arranged and evolving the operation of the write head, you can increase the areal density, allowing you to write more data (Terabits per square inch) to the same sector on the track in a way that's securely written and reliably read.

So, can you briefly explain what Shingles, Hammers and Microwaves have to do with Hard Drives?
SMR (Shingle Magnetic Recording) evolved from PMR and overlaps tracks like tiles on a roof to maximize density. However, this requires a modified write head and specialized onboard or host based controllers to manage the read/write process, so the current He12 14TB drives are dedicated for specialized Enterprise applications only. Prior to writing data, you need to polarize the media to align the bits.

PMR did it with a magnetic head, HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) uses costly laser diodes and requires very high operating temperatures during writes, so was leapfrogged by the new kid on the block, MAMR.

MAMR introduces a smaller, more accurate write head and generates a microwave field to polarize the bits on the platter, yielding high reliability without increasing operating temperatures. Geek quote of the year has to go to the introduction to the storage lexicon of the term "Spin Torque Oscillator". In a MAMR drive, the spin-torque oscillator (STO) generates a microwave field to provide assistance when magnetizing the grains prior to a write.

So, what's the ideal storage mix?
Like having a cabinet of shotgun, omni or hyper cardioid mics that capture a variety of sound, there is no one size fits all. 2TB Portable SSDs, 12TB high capacity Thunderbolt 3 desktop drives and 96TB Portable Raid systems all play their part in the overall workflow, from field ingest and backup to production. All that said, if you have recently upgraded your MacBook or Notebook to Thunderbolt 3, there is no question, if you value rugged performance and saving time, you unashamedly need to add one of our new G-DRIVE Mobile SSD R-Series to your Xmas list!

This article also features in the November edition of Broadcast Film & Video.


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