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HDD Technology Innovations

Here come HAMR and MAMR.

Seagate and Western Digital are shifting from conventional perpendicular magnetic recording (NYSE:PMR) to heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and microwave assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) in an attempt to increase the capacity of HDDs and lower cost.

WDC expects MAMR will maintain the 10x cost advantage of HDDs over SSDs.

A Press Release from WDC notes:

“At the heart of the company’s innovation breakthrough is the “spin torque oscillator” used to generate a microwave field that increases the ability to record data at ultra-high density without sacrificing reliability. Western Digital’s innovative MAMR technology is expected to offer over 4 terabits-per-square-inch over time. With sustained improvements in recording density, MAMR promises to enable hard drives with 40TB of capacity and beyond by 2025, and continued expansion beyond that timeframe.

WDC is sampling a 14TB MAMR drive in 2H 2018 with a production ramp in 2019.

Seagate is ahead of the race. In an April 9, 2018 blog, Seagate reported is already shipping HAMR units for customer integration tests with the following results:

Manufacturability: Built over 40,000 HAMR drives; pilot volume in 2018, volume shipments of 20TB+ drives in 2019; drives are built on the same automated assembly line as current products
Capacity: Achieved 2 Tbpsi areal density; 30% annual density growth on HAMR over past nine years
Reliability: Tests proved single-head data transfers of over 2PB, exceeds real-world specifications
Simplicity: HAMR is transparent to host; passed customer testing using standard code
Cost: Supply chain fully established and ready to launch; projected cost-per-TB path beats legacy PMR technology

High prices witnessed in the NAND market are acting as a catalyst for the resurgence of the HDD market, particularly as enterprise storage systems. While shipments in HDDs in client computing systems (PCs and Consumer) continue to drop year-on-year, Enterprise Performance HDDs for high-performance server and storage systems require quick response and rapid data transfer. Enterprise Capacity HDDs have large capacity and are used in storage systems and data centers which require large amount of data storage capacity.

Both HDD manufacturers, WDC and STX, continue to grow in the enterprise service market. New technologies will enable these companies to maintain their commanding, yet deteriorating lead, in the server market.

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Enterprise Storage Engineer

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