Western Digital unveils breakthrough HDD technology

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Since MAMR doesn't have to heat the underlying medium, the payoff is increased recording density without sacrificing reliability, and it's all possible without employing new types of magnetic media, according to WD's technical brief.

WESTERN DIGITAL (WD) has unveiled what it claims is the "world's first" microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) hard-disk that, it claims, can improve capacity, performance and reliability of conventional hard-disk technology.

While storage news, in general, is often more focused on flash and other non-volatile storage media, hard drives are still doing well, said Mike Cordano, Western Digital president and chief operating offer, during an event introducing the MAMR technology.

WD and its competitors have been working on drives using a similar energy-assisted recording concept called heat-assist magnetic recording for over a decade, with prototype drives demonstrated all the way back in 2007. The company also showcased advancements in micro actuation and Damascene recording head technology.

Ultimately, Western Digital expects MAMR to help HDDs remain a long-term complement to SSDs in the enterprise segment, and it expects capacity enterprise HDD technology to be a growth business through 2030 and beyond.

Storage drives have come a long way in the past 10 years, but that's nothing in comparison with what Western Digital has planned.

A key factor of MAMR, Western Digital claims, is that it doesn't suffer from reliability and material science challenges which abruptly halted HAMR's areal density expansion plans. The company claims that MAMR can deliver on the reliability and cost targets needed by its datacenter customers, and HAMR cannot.

"Western Digital's demonstration of MAMR technology is a significant breakthrough for the hard disk drive industry", said John Rydning, IDC's Research Vice President in Hard Disk Drives.

The event, held at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley, included a demonstration of the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) HDD and presentations from company executives and the inventor of MAMR technology, Professor Jimmy Zhu from Carnegie Mellon University. "Commercialization of MAMR technology will pave the way to higher recording densities, and lower cost per terabyte hard disk drives for enterprise datacenters, video surveillance systems, and consumer NAS products".

Western Digital on Wednesday said it is investing in technology that will take spinning hard disk drives to 40 TBs and beyond in capacity as a way to meet big data and other large-capacity application needs going forward.

The company says a device called a device called a spin torque oscillator (or STO) is the core part responsible for making MAMR work. The company's head manufacturing operations are the only internal supplier to utilize Damascene processing to manufacture heads with the precise tolerances and complex structures required for reliable and cost-effective recording at ultra-high densities. They are going ahead full speed as sampling to OEM customers is.

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