The current hard drive technology, Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), is used to record the spectrum of digitized data – from music, photos, and video stored on home desktop and laptop PCs to business information housed in sprawling data centers – on the spinning platters inside every hard drive. PMR technology was introduced in 2006 to replace longitudinal recording, a method in place since the advent of hard drives for computer storage in 1956, and is expected to reach its capacity limit near 1 terabit per square inch in the next few years.
The maximum capacity of today’s 3.5-inch hard drives is 3 terabytes (TB), at about 620 gigabits per square inch, while 2.5-inch drives top out at 750 gigabytes (GB), or roughly 500 gigabits per square inch. The first generation of HAMR drives, at just over 1 terabit per square inch, will likely more than double these capacities – to 6TB for 3.5-inch drives and 2TB for 2.5-inch models. The technology offers a scale of capacity growth never before possible, with a theoretical areal density limit ranging from 5 to 10 terabits per square inch – 30TB to 60TB for 3.5-inch drives and 10TB to 20TB for 2.5-inch drives.
The 1 terabit per square inch demonstration extends a long line of storied technology firsts for Seagate, including:
- 1980: ST-506, the first hard drive, at 5.25 inches, small enough to be widely deployed in early microcomputers, the precursor of the modern PC. The 5 megabyte drive cost $1,500.
- 1992: The first 7200RPM hard drive, a Barracuda® drive
- 1996: The first 10,000RPM hard drive, a Cheetah® drive
- 2000: The first 15,000RPM drive, also a Cheetah hard drive
- 2006: Momentus® 5400.3 drive, a 2.5-inch laptop drive and the world’s first drive to feature perpendicular magnetic recording technology
- 2007: Momentus FDE (Full Disk Encryption) drive, the industry’s first self-encrypting hard drive
- 2010: Momentus XT drive, the first solid state hybrid hard drive, combining traditional spinning media with NAND flash, to deliver speeds rivaling solid state drives (SSDs)