Seagate creates their first ‘fully functioning’ 16TB HAMR HDDs

Seagate creates their first 'fully functioning' 16TB HAMR HDDs

Seagate creates their first ‘fully functioning’ 16TB HAMR HDDs

Seagate has passed another HDD milestone, creating the “world’s first formatted and fully functioning” 16TB HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording) HDD, delivering their EXOS Enterprise 16TB HAMR HDDs, which will release in the industry standard 3.5-inch form factor to select customers in 2019. 

The important innovation with HAMR is its compatibility with standard systems, with HAMR drives appearing identical to standard PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) HDDs, offering plug-and-play functionality within today’s servers. In the eyes of customers, all they will see is faster HDDs, making HAMR HDD easy to deploy and an easy buy for customers. 

While PMR-based 16TB HDDs are set to release in mid-late 2019, Seagate’s plans to HAMR will truly begin in 2020, where their first 20TB HDD will be released. In 2024, Seagate plans to release 48TB HDDs, showcasing the vast potential of HAMR HDDs. 

After testing their new HAMR 16TB EXOS drives, Seagate further verified their impressive in-lab reliability test results, stating that their HAMR drives “far exceed industry standards for reliability”. In all, Seagate says that their lifetime data transfer capabilities surpass consumer standards by a factor of 20, which is no small feat for a new HDD recording technology. 

How does HAMR work? 

Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording is not a new concept, using a small laser to heat an HDD so that weaker magnets can be used to write to the drive’s surface, allowing data to be imprinted on a smaller area, therefore increasing the capacity of an HDD. 

The downside of this technology is that constantly heating the surface of an HDD will reduce the strength of each of the drive’s hard disk. Reliability is the main factor which prevented HAMR HDDs from hitting the market, but Seagate seems confident that they have mitigated these issues. 

Western Digital has proposed an alternative technology called MAMR (Microwave-Assisted magnetic Recording) which uses the company’s innovative “spin torque oscillator” to generate a magnetic field which can allow ultra-high density HDDs to be manufactured without any degradation in reliability. We have not heard anything new from Western Digital regarding MAMR since 2017, which could indicate that Western Digital MAMR technology is not as close to market as Seagate’s HAMR drives. 


Seagate creates their first 'fully functioning' 16TB HAMR HDDs  

Seagate plans to release 16TB HAMR HDDs to key partners within the next year, delaying the full release of HAMR until 2020, where 20 TB capacities will be possible, representing a major step up in size when compared to today’s largest HDDs. 

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