WD shows off market-ready MAMR tech for monster hard drives

Western Digital Announces 'Breakthrough' In Disk-Drive Storage

Western Digital Corp. says it has built the world's first 14TB hard drive, but the product is targeted at a specific audience: operators of hyper-scale clouds, hosted in some of the world's largest data centers: the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet's Google, Tencent, and Alibaba.

Western Digital is able to demonstrate MAMR gains significantly above PMR by leveraging three breakthroughs: the design of a head structure in dimensions that allow for high track density, the selection of magnetic and non-magnetic materials that provide the right excitation and a manufacturing process that makes it feasible to mass produce at the required performance and reliability levels. The advantage over other energy-assisted technologies, such as heat-assisted magnetic recording, is that it utilises the same materials. Developments in the other energy-assisted technology, specifically, heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), present new material science and reliability challenges that are not a factor in MAMR. The company claims that MAMR can deliver on the reliability and cost targets needed by its datacenter customers, and HAMR cannot. 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.

About two years ago, Western Digital competitor Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ: STX) crammed more than 1 terabit (1 trillion bits) of data in a square inch of its highest capacity disk drives.

"Commercialisation of MAMR technology will pave the way to higher recording densities, and lower cost per terabyte hard disk drives for enterprise data centres, video surveillance systems, and consumer NAS products", said John Rydning, research vice president, hard disk drives, at IDC. 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.

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Western Digital's MAMR technology is the latest innovation to significantly improve areal densities. With HAMR, a laser is used to heat the media and make it easier to write.

For further information on Western Digital MAMR technology, go to http://innovation.wdc.com.

No release date for the new Ultrastar Hs14 hard drive has been announced, but large customers are now sampling the product in low volumes, a Western Digital spokeswoman said.

Western Digital stock closed down slightly on Wednesday and traded up less than 0.3% Thursday afternoon at $85.85, in a 52-week range of $52.10 to $95.77.

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