WD promises 40TB HDDs in the near future

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At its "Innovating to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data" event today, Western Digital Corp.

WESTERN DIGITAL (WD) has unveiled what it claims is the "world's first" microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) hard-disk that, it claims, can improve capacity, performance and reliability of conventional hard-disk technology. The company also showcased advancements in micro actuation and Damascene recording head technology.

Western Digital (WD) has announced its next biggest innovation in hard drives, and it could bring capacities all the way up to 40 terabytes.

For about the previous year and a half, flash memory storage devices have held the honor of stuffing more data in less space than any rotating magnetic storage (hard disk drive) device. Last year, Micron Technology Inc. Since then, we have shipped more than 20 million helium drives.

MAMR is one of two energy-assisted technologies that Western Digital has been developing for years. HAMR requires a new substrate, new media materials, new head materials and a new manufacturing process. The company claims that MAMR can deliver on the reliability and cost targets needed by its datacenter customers, and HAMR cannot.

According to the company, the technology will enable hard drives with 40TB of capacity by 2025 and will offer over four terabits-per-square-inch over time.

"Western Digital's demonstration of MAMR technology is a significant breakthrough for the hard disk drive industry", said John Rydning, research vice president, Hard Disk Drives, IDC. The first hard drives with MAMR technology could hit the market around 2019 or 2020.

MAMR doesn't heat the recording medium at all, and the technology to make it work is invisible to the host machine. It builds upon a number of other leading innovations from the company. The head design would also be completely different than current hard drives, which adds to the manufacturing complications. The higher heat required for HAMR impacts reliability of the media, head and interface materials. The Damascene process involves precise depositing and etching layers of magnetic and non-magnetic materials to arrive at a finished head.

We're reaching the limits of areal density growth on PRM alone, but growing MAMR areal density on our new 8-disk platform gives us strong capacity far into the future, and will enable the company to achieve a 15% CAGR in enterprise hard drive storage capacity. Western Digital is also a major supplier of memory chips.

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