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“Are Hard Drives with Multiple Actuators practical?”

One strong voice to answer this question is ”it is not practical to make a drive with more than one actuator. ‘ The following are the reasons:

* Technical Reasons

For starters, it is very difficult to engineer. Having multiple arms moving around on a platter makes the design complex, especially in small form factors. There are more issues related to thermal expansion and contraction. The heat generated inside the hard drive is increased. The logic required to coordinate and optimize the seeks going on with the two sets of heads requires a great deal of work. And with hard disk designs and materials changing so quickly, this work would have to be re-done fairly often.

* Marketing difficulty

However, the biggest reasons why multiple actuators designs aren’t practical are related to marketing. The added expense in writing specialty electronics and duplicating most of the internal control components in the drive would make it very expensive, and most people just don’t care enough about performance to pay the difference. Hard disks are complex technology that can only be manufactured economically if they are mass-produced, and the market for those who would appreciate the extra actuators isn’t large enough to amortize the development costs inherent in these fancy designs. It makes more sense instead to standardize on mass-produced drives with a single actuator stack, and build RAID arrays from these for those who need the added performance. Compare a single 36 GB drive to an array of four 9 GB drives: in effect, the array is a 36 GB drive with four sets of everything. It would in most cases yield performance and reliability superior to a single 36 GB drive with four actuators, and can be made from standard components without special engineering.

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