Seagate introduces HAMR technology for 20-TB hard drives

Seagate CEATEC is introducing HAMR technology in Tokyo for 20 TB hard drives for the first time. The thermally-assisted magnetic storage will initially be used in 2.5-inch enterprise drives. Storage densities of up to 50 terabits per square inch should thus be possible in the future.

The recording techniques PMR and HAMR in comparison (Graphic: Seagate)

At the CEATEC 2013 trade fair in Tokyo, Seagate will be demonstrating the implementation of recording technology Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) for the first time. By the year 2020, it should enable 2.5-inch hard disks with up to 20 TB of storage space. The technology wants to install the manufacturer from California in drives of enterprise class with 10,000 U / min.

HAMR is the successor of Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), introduced in 2006, and Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), which is an intermediate step by Seagate . Compared to PMR, SMR further increases the write density by 25 percent by maximizing the number of tracks per inch on a single magnetic disk by overlapping.

A new magnetic medium, on the other hand, uses HAMR technology for recording. This is more stable at normal temperatures, but needs to be heated before data can be written. In this case, the challenge lies in the rapid point heating for the thermally assisted writing. For recording laser diodes and writing heads are used. A dramatic increase in recorded storage density is the result of this thermally assisted magnetic storage.

Seagate, in combination with self-aligning magnetic media of iron-platinum particles, expects HAMR technology to exceed the limit of magnetic data recording by more than a factor of 100. Storage densities of up to 50 terabits per square inch could thus be possible.

Seagate also provides an example to compare the size ratio: a digital library of all books written around the world is about 400 TB in size. In the near future, it could fit on just 20 HAMR drives.

"An astronomical amount of data is generated annually around the world. This data must also be saved. However, we are gradually approaching the limits of today's storage technology, "said Mark Re, Seagate's chief technology officer. "With HAMR, Seagate can increase storage density, offering hard drives with the lowest cost per gigabyte. It will be possible to realize capacities of up to 20 TB by the year 2020. "

The hard drive manufacturers had already agreed in October 2011 on HAMR as the standard for the next generation of magnetic mass storage. Not yet ready for the market is the competing BPM (Bit-Patterned Media), which is driven primarily by Hitachi GST. It relies on solid physical sites with a diameter of less than 20 nanometers, which are very difficult to control. If HAMR is maxed out, the technology could replace them.