Earlier this month, Western Digital basically threw HAMR technology into the recycle bin when it presented its MAMR technology. Seagate on the other hand is still confident that HAMR is the next big technology to increase the density of hard disk drives.
The firm posted on its blog that it's gearing up to ship pilot volume of HAMR HDDs in 2018. Seagate has currently manufactured over 40,000 HAMR HDDs and confirmed these disks are more than reliable enough for mass production. The HDD maker argues the supply chain for HAMR HDDs is already fully in place and says it can make 20TB+ HDDs in 2019 on the same automated assembly line as current products.
Seagate reveals it already has working samples of HAMR HDDs that feature a storage density in excess of 2 terabits per square inch. Ultimately, Seagate sees a path to a storage density of 10 terabits per square inch, basically a tenfold improvement over PMR over the coming decade.
The first 20TB+ HDDs with HAMR technology are expected to ship in 2019 and Seagate is confident it can increase the capacity of its disks to 40TB or more by 2023. This implies Seagate thinks it's ahead of Western Digital as the latter expects it will take until 2025 before it can make a 40TB HDD using its MAMR technology.
Here's a bit of marketing talk from Seagate about the advantages of HAMR:
Today, HAMR technology is ready — and Seagate is already producing reliable HAMR drives.
Ten years ago, the development and delivery of new head and media designs for HAMR seemed complex. We needed to define and develop new media coating that would be magnetically “hard” enough to prevent ever smaller bit grains from randomly switching polarity, but which was “soft” enough that it could be easily, quickly heated and cooled to enable those bits to be switched by the recording head. And then there were the questions of how to integrate laser diodes and near-field transducers into recording heads.
Compared with legacy technology, adding a laser to every head is complicated. But Seagate’s industry-leading research and development team has solved one question after another — and in the end, our HAMR architecture today is simpler than any other approach for delivering higher data density after PMR.
To date we’ve built and tested more than 40,000 HAMR drives (and we’ve built millions of HAMR heads). These drives have demonstrated the ability to reliably transfer over 2PB of data on a given head; this equates to 35PB of data transferred in a five-year life on a 12TB drive — far beyond any real-world application expectations. And despite early concerns among some industry watchers, no wear-leveling is used in Seagate HAMR drives, nor is it needed to achieve the reliability we’ve demonstrated.
The reliability of glass media used in HAMR drives is well-established and Seagate is the leading expert in media development and manufacture. Our current glass media supply chain has demonstrated 2.5M MTBF with shipping product.
Power, heat, and the reliability of related systems is equally nominal. HAMR heads integrated in customer systems consume under 200mW power while writing — a tiny percentage of the total 8W power a drive uses during random write, and easily maintaining a total power consumption equivalent to standard drives. Thus, no increase in drive temperature occurs. Of course, in a HAMR drive, the media is heated by the laser diode during the write process — but each bit is heated and cools down in a nanosecond, so the HAMR laser has no impact at all on drive temperature or the temperature, stability, or reliability of the media overall.
The bottom line: Our HAMR drives will meet the same data center reliability requirements as a PMR drive.