Huge 40TB hard drives are on the horizon, thanks to Western Digital

13 October, 2017, 07:49 | Author: Darnell Taylor

The capacity of solid state drives (SSDs) has been advancing steadily on traditional spinning hard drives over the last few years, and drive manufacturers haven't been certain how much longer spinning drives could remain in the lead.

The company demonstrated the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) disk drive and said it expects to begin delivering the drives using the new technology in 2019. HAMR requires a new substrate, new media materials, new head materials and a new manufacturing process.

In MAMR, the magnetic write head is modified to also carry a tiny spin torque oscillator (STO) that generates microwaves with a frequency of 20-40GHz.

WD explained: "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 time frame".

What is MAMR? MAMR, or microwave-assisted magnetic recording is a new storage technology that WD has been working on for years now, with the other being HAMR, or heat-assisted magnetic recording.

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Western Digital's MAMR technology is the latest innovation to significantly improve areal densities.

About two years ago, Western Digital competitor Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) crammed more than 1 terabit (1 trillion bits) of data in a square inch of its highest capacity disk drives. "Commercialization of MAMR technology will pave the way to higher recording densities, and lower cost per terabyte hard disk drives for enterprise datacenters, video surveillance systems, and consumer NAS products". With HAMR, a laser is used to heat the media and make it easier to write. In addition to HelioSeal helium-filled drive technology, MAMR also builds upon the company's micro actuation and recording head manufacturing technologies. The Damascene process involves precise depositing and etching layers of magnetic and non-magnetic materials to arrive at a finished head.

In the press release announcing the new technology, Western Digital quoted IDC analyst John Rydning as saying "Western Digital's demonstration of MAMR technology is a significant breakthrough for the hard-disk-drive industry".

Western Digital stock closed down slightly on Wednesday and traded up less than 0.3% Thursday afternoon at $85.85, in a 52-week range of $52.10 to $95.77. Western Digital data-centric solutions are marketed under the G-Technology, HGST, SanDisk, Tegile, Upthere and WD brands.

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