Seagate’s HAMR and Dual-Actuator MACH.2 HDDs are Ready for Prime Time

Seagate's HAMR and Dual-Actuator Mach.2 HDDs are Ready for Prime Time

Seagate’s HAMR and Dual-Actuator MACH.2 HDDs are Ready for Prime Time

2019 is set to be a big year for Seagate, who plans to unleash two new technologies that will prove critical to the long-term success of HDD storage, both in terms of storage performance and when it comes to data volume. 

First up is Seagate’s HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) technology, which will enable the company to release 16TB drives in the first half of this year. Beyond that, H2 of 2019 will see Seagate release their first dual-actuator (Mach.2) HDDs, which are designed to deliver up to 500MB/s sequential read speeds and up to 160 IOPS. 

Moving forward, Seagate is also planning to release HAMR HDDs with capacities of up to 24TB, a 50% improvement over this year’s HDDs, delivering 3TB of capacity per platter to create 20TB drives over eight spinning disks. 

In 2024, Seagate plans to release 48TB HDDs, showcasing the future storage potential of HAMR-based HDDs, but this also highlights why the company’s MACH.2 technology is also needed, as increased storage capacity without a boost to overall read/write performance will create issues of mechanical storage drives moving forward. What’s the point in having a huge HDD if the data inside becomes further confined by read/write limitations. 

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. 

Seagate's HAMR and Dual-Actuator Mach.2 HDDs are Ready for Prime Time  

IOPS per TB remains an important factor for data centers, making Seagate’s multi-actuator technology critical for the long-term utilisation of mechanical storage mediums. Multi-actuator technology adds parallelism to future HDDs, maintaining high IOPS metrics while capacities continue to scale. In theory, Seagate’s MACH.2 technology will scale beyond twin actuators, possibly creating MACH.3 (three actuators) and MACH.4 (4 actuators) technologies in the future to maintain optimal IOPS/TB levels. 

Seagate’s deployment of HAMR and MACH.2 HDDs will be critical for the company, as they will need to showcase that both technologies are reliable as they prepare to combine both techniques into a single product in 2020. At this time it remains unknown how long it will take before we will start to see Multi-Actuator and HAMR-based HDD in the mainstream market, as right now both technologies are ideally positioned to target the enterprise market.  

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