Pillar Data Systems has launched what it claims is  the first 2TB SATA hard drive for enterprise storage. According tot he company the new drive will usher in the next phase of data-centre storage density.

Technology advancements in hard drives as well as SSDs (solid-state drives) continually increase the number of bytes that can fit in a standard-sized unit, and SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) drives available for PCs have already made the leap from 1TB to 2TB. With the higher density drives, Pillar's Axiom storage systems can now be loaded up with 1.6 petabytes of capacity and the amount of data-center floor space consumed by a byte of data can be cut in half, the company said.

The new drives use slightly less power than already available 1TB units, so power consumption per byte can also be cut in half, said Bob Maness, Pillar's vice president of worldwide marketing and channel sales.

If Pillar is the first to ship a 2TB enterprise SATA drive, its rivals are sure to follow soon, said analyst Steve Duplessie of Enterprise Strategy Group. "In 15 years, there hasn't been a lot of gap between manufacturer A and manufacturer B offering the next level of capacity," he added.

What distinguishes makers of high-end storage equipment is the added intelligence they bring to those drives, he said. For example, Pillar's Application Aware Storage technology makes better use of capacity with special block sizes that are optimised for individual applications, he said. With the right size blocks, less unused capacity is trapped in blocks that are too big for what they hold.

Pillar guarantees 80 percent utilization on the Axiom platform. Its Application Aware technology also lets administrators prioritise data for various applications at five levels of priority so the most critical data can be reached most quickly.

The 2TB drives are Western Digital units that run at 5400 rpm and are best suited to archiving, Maness said. Enterprises buy capacity for the Axiom systems in "bricks" of 12 drives, each with one spare. The modular system can be equipped with bricks of different types of drives, including faster SATA drives, Fibre Channel drives, and SSDs.

If an organisation needs to make some of the data from a 2TB drive available for a specific task, an administrator can set up a policy that will move that data into a cache for quick access while keeping it on the 2TB drive to which it was assigned, Maness said.

Bricks of the new drives can be ordered now for delivery in about four to six weeks, Maness said. Prices vary based on system configuration and other factors, but the bricks should carry a list price around US$40,000 (£25,000), he said.