Seagate HAMR 32 TB Capacity Drives To Arrive Later This Year Followed By 40+ TB In 2024

Seagate recently unveiled a preview of their upcoming lineup of hard drives, which utilize heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. According to their roadmap, the first commercially available HAMR Mach 2 drives with a capacity of 32 TB are scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2023. They are also planning to launch higher storage models (40 TB) in 2024. Additionally, Seagate is expected to release HDDs with capacities of 24 TB and 28 TB using the older perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology in the near future. It is anticipated that both product ranges will coexist for a while before Seagate fully transitions to their more advanced thermal magnetic storage solution. In late April, a fortunate data center client had the opportunity to try out the evaluation HAMR hardware, and Seagate has since provided other enterprise customers with undisclosed HAMR HDD models.

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During a presentation at the Bank of America 2023 Global Technology conference, Seagate executives openly discussed their HAMR products, which are intended for integration into the new Corvault server equipment. Gianluca Romano, the company’s chief financial officer, provided details on several models. He mentioned that their 32-terabyte model is based on 10 disks and 20 heads, which is the same configuration as the current 20-terabyte PMR model. The increase in capacity is achieved through higher areal density. Similarly, the upcoming 40-terabyte model will also have 10 disks and 20 heads. Furthermore, in Seagate’s laboratory, they are already testing individual disks capable of storing 5 terabytes, which indicates progress towards their future 50-terabyte model as mentioned in their earnings release.

He further explains the cost advantages of manufacturing these hard disk drives: “By increasing the capacity significantly without raising the cost per unit, we can leverage the same bill of materials. This not only benefits the industry as a whole, but also allows Seagate, as a non-early adopter, to achieve cost reductions. We may pass some of these savings on to our customers to enhance their total cost of ownership (TCO) and ensure their success, but not entirely. Historically, the majority of cost reductions were passed on to customers. However, with HAMR, we have the opportunity to maintain a favorable TCO for customers while retaining a significant portion of the cost improvement within Seagate. This approach enables us to improve our gross margin, which aligns with the company’s main focus and strategy. It also justifies our substantial investment in the development of HAMR.”

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Romano suggests that Seagate will reap significant benefits from their new venture, while also offering modest savings to clients. He explains, “This is another advantage of HAMR. Consider a 40-terabyte drive based on 10 disks and 20 heads. Only one segment, such as the cloud, will likely require such high capacity. Other enterprise OEM segments may settle for 30 terabytes, while video and image applications might be satisfied with 20 terabytes. Even in these cases, a 20-terabyte drive with 5 disks and 10 heads can compete with a traditional drive that has 10 disks and 20 heads. The difference in bill of materials and cost is substantial. However, we don’t need to pass on the entire cost benefit to customers. We offer a portion of those cost savings to customers, while retaining the rest of the benefits within Seagate. This approach allows us to improve our gross margin significantly across various capacity points using this new technology.”

Bia AnandTech