Information administration is a continuing headache for photographers and videographers. Fortuitously, exhausting drive producers are going to launch two new applied sciences this 12 months geared to extend storage capability.

With the appearance of ultra-high-resolution sensors and uncooked video cameras on the client stage, storing our information is changing into a major downside. Merely put, exhausting drive capability doesn’t develop as quick as our media libraries. Cloud storage can be restricted by the velocity of our web connections. Importing TB of pictures takes instances, particularly and not using a fiberoptic connection. Sadly, exhausting drive capability has been fairly stagnant for the previous few years, however issues are about to alter.

HAMR and MAMR: Not a Revolution

Earlier than you get too excited, HAMR and MAMR applied sciences gained’t dramatically enhance the present capacities. These applied sciences are simply an evolution, not a radical breakthrough. In accordance with the producers, the primary disks ought to hit the market someday this 12 months with 16-to-20 TB fashions, which isn’t an enormous enchancment contemplating that the biggest client stage drives out there at this time can retailer as much as 14 TB. By 2023, Seagate expects to ship 40 TB+ exhausting drives.

In the intervening time, the three main producers use the identical know-how that was launched 10 years in the past:  PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording). And PMR itself was an evolution of the earlier LMR (Longitudinal Magnetic Recording) storage course of. One other growth of PMR exists, the SMR. Nevertheless, the underlying technique by which the bits are recorded is identical. Thus, even with the mixed advantages of PMR and SMR, we’re approaching the bounds with this know-how as properly. As we speak’s PMR will ultimately run out of steam as a result of legal guidelines of physics.

Seagate, like Toshiba and Western Digital, is now going to introduce one other variation to flee the lack of the present PMR know-how to extend the areal density of the disk.

With out being too technical, there are two foremost methods to extend exhausting drive capability: add extra platters contained in the exhausting drive or cram extra items of information (bits) on a given floor space (disk). Designers used these two avenues in parallel for many years, however the first one (enhance the platter density) can’t be pushed a lot additional anymore: the three.5” disks are already full of platters and the air contained in the core has been changed by helium, whereas future designs could also be vacuum-sealed to eliminate the final quantity of fuel resistance. Rising the information density is the one means left to considerably enhance the storage capability. However because the Chief Know-how Officer of Seagate explains: “it sounds virtually easy, however the science and engineering experience required to excellent this know-how has been huge. Rising the quantity of information you’ll be able to retailer on a disk requires cramming magnetic areas nearer collectively, which suggests the grains must be smaller, in order that they gained’t intervene with one another. The main downside with packing bits so intently collectively is that in the event you try this on typical magnetic media, the bits (and the information they symbolize) develop into thermally unstable and will flip.”

Certainly, writing extra information on much less floor creates numerous instability, and instability will not be one thing fascinating within the enterprise of information storage. The treatment is to make use of a extra steady recording medium, one referred to as a excessive coercivity or hardness, to simplify it. However that coercivity needs to be overcome to jot down on the exhausting drive platter. Mentioned in any other case, previous a sure stage of miniaturization, you want a “tougher” materials to maintain your information steady, however the toughness of this materials prevents the writing operation.

Nevertheless, if some type of power is utilized to this excessive coercivity media through the writing section, the coercivity is successfully lowered to the purpose the place the recording head can write data on the media tracks. Primarily, MAMR and HAMR are energy-assisted recording methods used to “soften” the “exhausting” however steady excessive coercivity materials. The 2 applied sciences use totally different power approaches to beat the coercivity of the medium through the writing section:

  • MAMR: Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording makes use of 20-40 GHz frequencies to bombard the disk platter with a round microwave area, reducing its coercivity and enabling the bit worth to be written.
  • HAMR: Warmth-Assisted Magnetic Recording makes use of a tiny 200 mW laser beam to warmth up the disk platter to 750 °F (400 °C) and allow the writing operation.

Western Digital and Toshiba are pursuing the MAMR (microwave power help) know-how, whereas Seagate bets on the HAMR (warmth power help). However each applied sciences share a standard purpose: enhance the areal density to supply bigger capability exhausting drives.

Availability, Capability, and Efficiency

Western Digital and Seagate plan to start quantity shipments of their respective applied sciences someday this 12 months. Western Digital revealed just lately that it has begun to pattern pre-mass manufacturing fashions (16 TB) and 18 TB items could comply with earlier than the top of 2019. On paper, Seagate introduced 40 TB+ drives by 2023, whereas WD plans to go the 40 TB threshold in 2025. The primary Seagate drives out there this 12 months ought to attain 20 TB of storage if the whole lot goes in accordance with plan.

However the preliminary fashions will probably be devoted to skilled use and can deal with information heart wants first. It’s not clear right now when these new exhausting drives will hit the patron market.

Concerning capability, WD claims MAMR drives will high out at four Tb/in^2, whereas Seagate’s HAMR is broadly projected to high out at 10 Tb/in^2. Past that, Seagate expects to pair HAMR with Bit-Patterned Media, thus creating HDMR (Heated Dot Magnetic Recording) to scale as much as 100 Tb/in^2. WD may be capable to take an analogous path with MAMR.

What about efficiency? Producers point out that velocity will probably be straight correlated to capability as increased density platters enable one to extend the switch velocity. Figuring out that the most recent 12 TB PMR exhausting drives can attain as much as 240 MB/s, a 40 TB drive ought to be capable to switch information at 350 or 450 MB/s, however this determine is only a tough estimate based mostly on extrapolation. As for latency, it can primarily rely on the rotation velocity (5,400 rpm, 7,200 rpm or different). We’ll have to attend for the primary evaluations to have a exact thought of the efficiency.

Worth, Reliability, and Compatibility

Lastly, the price issue is unknown, and producers usually are not very talkative at this level. In accordance with Seagate: “though new HAMR parts add some price on a per-head foundation, HAMR drives as a complete can ship a lowered cost-per-TB in comparison with PMR drives due to the sheer enhance in whole capability per disk.” Initially, the MAMR and HAMR know-how shouldn’t come low-cost, however the value ought to lower as information facilities begin ordering hundreds of thousands of items. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t guess on reasonably priced MAMR, and HAMR drives this 12 months.

As ordinary, either side claims to supply a superior answer whereas downplaying the know-how of its opponents. WD contends that Seagate’s HAMR will increase manufacturing prices due to the brand new materials required for the platters. It additionally expresses doubts in regards to the reliability of lasers, which is among the crucial causes WD selected MAMR as an alternative of HAMR. However Seagate countered that elevated storage density yields a decrease price per TB and dismissed reliability issues by saying that it has already constructed and examined greater than 40,000 HAMR drives with hundreds of thousands of heads. And opposite to WD’s claims, Seagate says HAMR drives are plug and play with current methods.


HAMR and MAMR are simply an evolutionary step of the present know-how. With out being a radical breakthrough, they permit one to unlock the present limitation of the PMR recording structure and open the door to 40 TB+ drives by 2023-2025 in accordance with the seller’s roadmaps. Most probably, the brand new exhausting drives will probably be paired with different applied sciences, comparable to helium, SMR, and TDMR to extend density because the know-how matures. However the first fashions to hit the market this 12 months will probably be 16 TB to 20 TB drives devoted for information facilities, and the costs  shouldn’t be client pleasant. Efficiency, compatibility, and reliability should be established as soon as reviewers can get their arms on the primary items.


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