The last time we saw a big innovation in the hard drive space from Western Digital is when they announced their HelioSeal helium-filled hard drives. Today at the Western Digital campus we were shown a presentation on microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) technology. This technology will allow Western Digital to deliver ultra-high capacity hard disk drives to meet the future demands of Big Data. While big data is the focus of these drives to start we should see this technology trickle down to the consumer level at some point.
So what is MAMR and why do we need it? When it comes to higher capacity hard drives we come to a writeability limit. This means that only so much data can be written to the actual platters on the drive effectively. While we’ve seen capacity increases, the current technology is limited as we get to higher and higher capacities. So that is where MAMR comes in, it uses microwave fields emitted by a Spin Torque Oscillator near the write pole. This allows for writing perpendicular media at lower magnetic fields.
Looking at current capacity outlook with current technology (PMR) we are only going to be able to reach 20TB, before we hit that writeability limit. Whereas with MAMR we are going to see capacities of 40TB and beyond.
MAMR will allow Western Digital to produce these drives at very low cost. With MAMR technology Western Digital plans to bring out production drives by 2019. These drives will have massive capacity capability, and since these drives do not require new materials their cost should remain the same.
This is not just some proof of concept or anything like that, Western Digital had a working MAMR drive on site and their presentation at the event was run off a MAMR drive.
As I said this technology will come to the enterprise first, but we should hopefully see it in the consumer level at some point. Likely in Western Digital’s NAS drives first. With technologies like Intel’s Optane memory and the need for high capacity drives for games these days having a single ultra-high capacity drive would be awesome! MAMR technology is how Western Digital will be producing their ultra-high capacity hard drives going forward.
If you would like to learn more check out the full press release here.