Western Digital Promises 40TB HDDs Thanks to Microwaves

Western Digital demonstrates world’s first microwave-assisted magnetic recording HDD

For about the a year ago and a half, flash memory storage devices have held the honor of stuffing more data in less space than any rotating magnetic storage (hard disk drive) device.

The new Western Digital technology was announced at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley and included a demonstration of what it called "the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording", known as MAMR. Not only would HAMR require completely new manufacturing techniques, but servers would also need new driver software to manage wear leveling caused by the rapid and repeated heating. The company claims that MAMR, coupled with helium-sealed, shingled recording, and other technologies could allow the company to offer drives with a capacity of 40 TB in 2025 and even larger drives further into the future.

If MAMR works out, it would most likely replace Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) and the next generation standard. The first hard drives with MAMR technology could hit the market around 2019 or 2020.

In addition to higher capacities, hard-disk drives based on MAMR should also be much improved. It builds upon a number of other leading innovations from the company.

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The company says its Damascene head-making process is the second key component in bringing MAMR technology to a manufacturable state. 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. With HAMR, a laser is used to heat the media and make it easier to write. MAMR uses the same media materials and similar head manufacturing process as PMR. The combination of these technologies deliver superior total cost of ownership (TCO) across all sizes of cloud and enterprise data centers.

The company explained the news with an announcement from President and COO of Western Digital, Mike Cordano, saying: "Our ground-breaking advancement in MAMR technology will enable Western Digital to address the future of high capacity storage by redefining the density potential of HDDs and introduce a new class of highly reliable, "ultra-high capacity" drives".

UBS lowers its Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) price target from $101 to $93 and maintains a Neutral rating. Western Digital data-centric solutions are marketed under the G-Technology, HGST, SanDisk, Tegile, Upthere and WD brands.

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