The Seagate and Hikvision legacy: Designing the world’s first surveillance drive

Imagine this. You have a great product. You’re meeting market demands and making money for both your companyand your partners. But something could be better; there’s the potential to push the envelope even further in your technology. Do you strive for innovation and make a change for the future? Or do you keep selling what works for right now? 

This is where Hikvision found themselves nearly 10 years ago. After entering the market in 2001, Hikvision was quickly recognized as an industry leader for surveillance technologies. Yet they noticed a weakness in the storage behind their surveillance solutions. Rather than stay the same, Hikvision resolved to find a solution. This decision has enabled the company and its products to remain leading forces in the global surveillance market to this day.

Hikvision – unveiling the need for a surveillance hard drive

As the world’s top vendor for CCTV and video surveillance equipment, Hikvision delivers solutions for security applications used in over 100 countries. With the industry’s largest R&D team and a reputation for excellence, their comprehensive surveillance solutions have been integral to securing high-profile events such as the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the 2012 World Expo and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.

Hikvision’ s prominent place in the surveillance industry is due in large part to the company’s dedication to superior products.  So when their DVR systems were not providing the levels of performance and reliability they wanted back in 2005, Hikvision took steps to enhance them. “After some thorough investigation, we found that system integrators and installers were choosing low-cost desktop hard drives to populate the surveillance systems,” saidChenghua Sun, R&D Director at Hikvision. “These drives are not equipped to perform in surveillance environments, and were therefore limiting the capabilities of our systems.”

Hikvision was at the forefront of various manufacturers facing similar issues imposed by desktop-class hard drives. The video surveillance industry was quickly expanding, with larger systems, more cameras and advanced software capabilities. And as the value of video footage grew, the need for reliable storage became undeniable.

Seagate and Hikvision – collaborating for a solution

Based on the feedback of Hikvision and other surveillance manufacturers, Seagate saw the need for a unique hard drive that would meet the demands of the rapidly growing surveillance market. With Hikvision’ s help, the data storage company took on the challenge of creating a specialized product to accommodate surveillance applications. Thus, the collaborative relationship between Seagate and Hikvision began.

With the hope of designing the best possible product, Seagate sent a dedicated sales and engineering team to Hikvision in 2005. By establishing a technical relationship with Hikvision, which continues today, Seagate has gained a clear understanding of their system needs and the requirements of surveillance applications in general.

“Hikvision’ s experiences revealed the performance and durability gaps of desktop drives within a surveillance environment,” confirmed John Fenstermaker, Director of Firmware R&D at Seagate and one of the founders of the first surveillance drive. “It’s in our best interest at Seagate to make sure things work as well as possible for our customers.”

“First and foremost, desktop drives were not built to operate all day, every day while recording from multiple cameras,” said Fenstermaker. “Drives designed for PC applications support lighter workloads, like that of your personal computer, which you might use for a few hours a day to browse the Internet, create a presentation or view family photos. Workloads like this consist of a less predictable set of actions but overall, they’re fairly light commands for the drive to support.”

In addition to always-on operation, the large streaming workloads from multiple video cameras proved too much for desktop drives, often resulting in lost video frames – an unacceptable issue for anyone in the surveillance space.

Furthermore, the desktop drives lacked specific power management features critical to minimizing power consumption and heat emission in multi-drive systems, both of which help enhance overall system reliability. “We needed a storage solution that could withstand a variety of temperature ranges to record reliably,” said Eric Shen, Product Manager at Hikvision. “Think about where you’d store a surveillance system. Typically it’s hidden in a closet, or maybe even placed outdoors, but not often within a temperature-controlled environment with good air circulation.”

Yet another challenge for desktop drives involved the multi-drive architectures common to surveillance applications. When more hard drives are packed into a solution, tolerance to both heat and vibration is of utmost importance. Levels of vibration emitted from the rotating hard drives can be amplified across the system and become detrimental to desktop drives.

In an effort to resolve these issues, Seagate and Hikvision underwent the collaborative journey of developing a new hard drive – one that would fit not only Hikvision’s needs, but also the needs of other surveillance systems.

The first surveillance hard drive                                      

Working closely with Hikvision, Seagate set out to pioneer the first surveillance-optimized hard drive, and the SV35 Series (now Surveillance HDD) was released in March 2006. This purpose-built product offered features never-before combined in a hard drive and helped enhance both the quality of video recordings, as well as system reliability.


Nearly a decade later, Seagate Surveillance HDDs continue to provide the performance, reliability and capacity benefits needed in surveillance applications. Seagate’s ongoing engagement with Hikvision continues to reveal opportunities for improvement. The result: drives that just get better and better. According to Shen, since collaborating with Seagate on surveillance-optimized drives, the overall performance of Hikvision DVR systems has significantly improved.

With Hikvision’s support, Seagate and their surveillance-optimized drives continue to evolve with market needs. The latest 7th generation Surveillance HDD offers new features to further enhance reliability and performance for the DVR and NVR market. 

The 7th generation offering includes enhanced low-power profiles, which can be customized to support motion-sensing cameras. When cameras are not recording, drives spin down to conserve power; yet as soon as motion is detected, a quick time-to-ready feature enables drives to immediately resume recording, without missing a frame.

To support the rapid growth in NVRs, Seagate has also added a rotational vibration (RV) sensor to ensure consistent drive performance in multi-drive systems, as well as error recovery controls (ERC) to support the increasing adoption of RAID configurations.  Seagate Rescue data recovery services are available for extended support should your data be lost, unintentionally deleted or corrupted.

As always, capacity is key for any player in the surveillance field. Now delivering options for up to 6TB (600+ hours of HD recording), Seagate Surveillance HDDs consistently fulfill the need for reliable high-capacity storage – a feature that helps Hikvision keep up with growing market demands.

A win-win relationship

By collaborating with one another, both Hikvision and Seagate have found success and remained innovators in their fields. With Hikvision’ s ongoing feedback and support, Seagate continues to deliver industry-leading capacities and performance to the evolving surveillance market. The collaborative relationship allows Hikvision to recommend Seagate with confidence, knowing they’ve worked together to maximize performance for systems in the field. Hikvision also leverages feedback from Seagate on their hardware designs to deliver more robust surveillance solutions.

Over the last year, Hikvision surveillance sales have doubled; in fact, IHS recently named them the leading manufacturer for every category of CCTV equipment for 2015. To this day, professionals at Seagate admire Hikvision’s fearless resolve to explore new technologies that benefit the surveillance space: “Hikvision has shown no fear,” said David Frick, Firmware Engineer at Seagate. “They are very interested in any technology that can improve reliability and help them provide a great product.”

Looking forward

With their eyes on future innovation, Hikvision and Seagate look toward emerging technologies to build on the foundation they’ve established.

Hikvision has shown particular interest in shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology for surveillance-optimized drives. SMR can improve areal densities, growing drive capacities as much as 25 percent– critical to surveillance systems. “Seagate needs strong partners like Hikvision to help develop this technology for the surveillance space,” commented Frick.

Together, Hikvision and Seagate will continue breaking barriers to deliver high-capacity, cost-effective and robust surveillance solutions to support surveillance systems worldwide.

“We are eager to work with Hikvision to pioneer new storage technologies that will open doors in the surveillance industry,” said Seagate Senior Sales Rep for China Johnny Huang. “The ongoing partnership between our companies will certainly benefit the surveillance space for years to come.”


Surveillance-optimized firmware to enhance durability:

·         ATA streaming command support for smooth video recording and playback, enabling higher-resolution video recordings from multiple video streams – and minimizing the number of dropped frames

·         Lower command completion times (CCT) to improve drive throughput, enabling support for more cameras at higher resolutions

·         Power savings modes to reduce overall power consumption and heat emissions

·         Ability to operate in higher temperatures – heat emissions minimized with unique seek profiles for surveillance

·         Lowered acoustics for quieter operation

·         Data caching optimized for high-write workloads, offering support for more cameras without compromising throughput or performance

High storage capacities:

·         Enough storage for 24×7, multi-camera applications

·         Support for high-definition video and archived surveillance footage

Physical design improvements:

·         Balanced motor to minimize vibrations emitted from drives and improve acoustics

·         Durable drive components to ensure reliability for write-optimized, 24×7 models of operation