Western Digital Unveils MAMR Hard Drive Tech To Enable Density To Scale North Of 40 Terabytes

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In case you have noticed, our data storage needs are growing at an exponential rate. Data centers have an increasing need to store huge amounts of information to power our digital world. Although there is an increasing shift towards solid state drive (SSDs) for their blazing fast performance and low-power profile, hard disk drive (HDDs) still carry the brunt of the load when it comes to storage currently and in the immediate future.

According to Western Digital, roughly 70 percent of the thousands of exabytes of data globally will reside on HDDs, versus 30 percent for flash. When focusing solely on the data center market, 90 percent of those exabytes will reside on HDDs.

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Companies are looking for ways to boost the areal density of HDDs to meet this surging storage demand, and Western Digital thinks that it has the answer with Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording or MAMR. In essence, MAMR is an extension of the energy-assisted technique used for writing data to disks with a tiny laser. MAMR employs a Spin Torque Oscillator, which is used to create a microwave frequency that not only increases the ability of HDDs to record data at large densities, but also the overall reliability of the unit.

In fact, using a Spin Torque Oscillator allows for lower operating temperatures for the media during operation. Instead of hitting 400 to 700 degrees Celsius, the same media with MAMR technology can operate within the same thermal envelope as the rest of the hard drive, increasing reliability.

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MAMR will allow Western Digital to produce hard drives that offer up to 4 terabytes (TB) densities per square inch over the next decade. To put that in perspective, this is four times what Western Digital's current hard drives can muster. So that 14TB enterprise-class HDD that the company announced could give way to a 56TB counterpart way down the pipeline. For its part, Western Digital is committed to delivering 40TB capacity HDDs by the year 2025.

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“As the volume, velocity, variety, value and longevity of both Big Data and Fast Data grow, a new generation of storage technologies are needed to not only support ever-expanding capacities, but ultimately help our customers analyze and garner insights into our increasingly connected universe of data,” said Mike Cordano, President and COO for Western Digital. “Our ground-breaking advancement in MAMR technology will enable Western Digital to address the future of high capacity storage by redefining the density potential of HDDs and introduce a new class of highly reliable, ‘ultra-high capacity’ drives.

Western Digital is on track to start sampling MAMR hard drives to customers next year, and they should reach commercial availability in 2019.