Western Digital this week mentioned that its energy-assisted magnetic recording (ePMR) and OptiNAND applied sciences coupled with elevated variety of platters per exhausting drive would allow it to construct HDDs with an as much as 30 TB capability. To maintain advancing capacities from there, the corporate might want to use heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), it revealed. In the meantime, noticeably absent was any point out of microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR), the expertise that was anticipated to precede HAMR. 

Constructing a 22TB HDD for 2022

Final month Western Digital’s started transport its top-of-the-range Ultrastar DC HC560 20TB and WD Gold 20TB exhausting drives that depend on 9 2.2 TB ePMR platters and have the corporate’s OptiNAND expertise that makes use of an embedded flash drive (EFD) to enhance efficiency, reliability, and usable capability of an HDD. 

To spice up capability of its next-generation exhausting drives additional, Western Digital can both set up disks with the next areal density or enhance the variety of disks per drive. Each approaches have their challenges (greater areal density would possibly require new heads, whereas a further platter requires utilization of thinner media and mechanical elements), nevertheless it appears like the corporate has a approach to put 10th disk right into a 3.5-inch HDD.

“We’re in a position to ship our 20TB on 9 platters, we are able to add the tenth [disk], and we get one other 2.2TB of storage,” mentioned David Goeckeler, chief govt of Western Digital (through SeekingAlpha), on the 5th Annual Digital Wells Fargo TMT Summit Convention.

Constructing a 22TB HDD on a 10-disk platform is a viable approach to supply some further capability for its clients and keep aggressive in 2022. However Western Digital’s current applied sciences have a significantly extra critical potential. 

As much as 30TB

When Western Digital launched its OptiNAND expertise earlier this 12 months, it talked about its advantages (which embrace efficiency, reliability, and capability) however didn’t actually quantify them. This week the corporate lastly spilled some beans on the potential of its ePMR expertise mixed with OptiNAND. Because it seems, it will possibly construct 30 TB exhausting drives utilizing what it already has: ePMR, OptiNAND, and a 10-platter 3.5-inch HDD platform. This can require it to extend areal density of its ePMR disks by about 36%, which is important.

“So, we actually have that staircase to take you to 30TB and you then get on the HAMR curve and also you go for fairly a bit longer,” mentioned Goeckler. “So, I believe it’s a actually good roadmap for the exhausting drive business.”

MAMR Axed?

For years Western Digital envisioned that its MAMR expertise as a key enabler of its exhausting drives with an as much as 40TB capability. In 2019 it launched its ePMR expertise that was thought of to be a half-way in direction of MAMR, however since then the corporate has barely talked about MAMR in any respect.

When it introduced its OptiNAND expertise, Western Digital talked about MAMR as one of many energy-assisted magnetic recording choices it was , however didn’t reveal any precise plans. On the digital Wells Fargo summit, Western Digital pressured that HAMR was a key enabler for its future HDDs which have capability of over 30TB, however didn’t discuss MAMR in any respect. 

“HAMR is extraordinarily necessary, nice expertise, it remains to be a number of years away earlier than it is commercialized, and you may wager your datacenter on it,” mentioned Goeckler. “Now we have closely invested in HAMR. I believe you already know we’ve got over 400 patents in HAMR. [If] you’re a provider of exhausting drives in an business this large, you will [invest] in plenty of totally different applied sciences that you simply assume goes to gasoline your street map. So, we’re an enormous believer in HAMR.”

If Western Digital can preserve increasing capability of its exhausting drives with its ePMR expertise for just a few years earlier than it will possibly roll out its first HAMR-based drives, then it doesn’t must commercialize its MAMR expertise in any respect since HAMR has significantly higher scalability by way of aerial density. 

Like each new magnetic recording expertise, MAMR and HAMR must be evaluated by Western Digital’s clients earlier than attending to mass manufacturing, which takes time. Due to this fact, it isn’t within the firm’s pursuits to introduce new HDD platforms or new recording applied sciences too typically as this slowdowns adoption of its drives by shoppers in addition to income development.

Now we have reached out to Western Digital to make clear its plans for MAMR, however the firm has but to answer our request.


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