Western Digital: MAMR hard-disk paves way for 40TB drives by 2025

At a media event October 11 at its San Jose headquarters, WD revealed new storageware that ostensibly enables ultra-high capacity HDDs to meet the future high-scale demands of big data.

Western Digital showed off a a prototype hard drive with a potentially revolutionary new energy-assisted magnetic recording technology called microwave-assist magnetic recording (MAMR).

The storage industry is placing its hopes on HAMR, or heat-assisted magnetic recording, a technology that uses a small laser while recording data to heat the media as a way to increase data density.

WD announced a breakthrough innovation for delivering ultra-high capacity hard disk drives (HDDs) to meet the future demands of Big Data with proven data center-level reliability.

Brendan Collins, vice president of hard drive product marketing for Western Digital, said that the demand for hard drives would continue to grow because flash storage costs about 15-times spinning drives on a cost-per-gigabyte basis. For context, WD is now currently offering 14 TB drives to datacenter customers and 12 TB drives are just entering the general market.

Western Digital has been quietly investing in MAMR for about eight to nine years. Western Digital's MAMR technology is expected to offer more than 4 terabits-per-square-inch over time. Since MAMR doesn't have to heat the underlying medium, the payoff is increased recording density without sacrificing reliability, and it's all possible without employing new types of magnetic media, according to WD's technical brief. Moreover, its fabrication relies on technologies and processes that Western Digital has already invested in, including Damascene recording head technology, enabling the company to start rolling out MAMR hard drives to the industry by 2019.

The event, held at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley, included a demonstration of the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) HDD and presentations from company executives and the inventor of MAMR technology, Professor Jimmy Zhu from Carnegie Mellon University.

The first MAMR hard-disk drives will be running in data centres by 2020, according to WD, but will quickly find their way into an array of different products, including consumer products, according to IDC.

WD says that the material science and reliability challenges that have prolonged the development of HAMR are not an issue when it comes to MAMR. "Western Digital's advanced micro actuation technology for data center applications enables hard drives to accurately and reliably position magnetic heads for writing and reading at ultra-high densities", claimed WD. The company's head manufacturing operations are the only internal supplier to utilize Damascene processing to manufacture heads with the precise tolerances and complex structures required for reliable and cost-effective recording at ultra-high densities.

The company says a device called a device called a spin torque oscillator (or STO) is the core part responsible for making MAMR work.

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