With TDMR, BPMR, HDMR and MAMR, HDDs are evolving to ensure they will be meeting our data storage needs for decades to come, says Hammer.
Do you remember the 5.25 inch floppy disk? They truly were ‘floppy’. How about the 3.5 inch version in its hard case? Both now are long gone, surpassed by USB memory sticks and cloud storage. Hard drives - HDDs - on the other hand are thriving, even with the growing competition from solid state drives (SSDs). The ‘spinning disks’ have been around for 60 years and many expect they will still be storing data for at least another 20 despite the growing popularity of Flash.
What’s the secret to their longevity in a sector that sees rapid change and development? Innovation. While today’s disks may share the same ‘DNA’ as those early 3.75MB IBM versions, there the similarity ends. Whereas the 3.5 inch floppy drives came with a 1.4MB capacity (and that was the ‘high density’ version), the best you could hope for in a PC hard drive in the 1980s was 44MB - and that was long before the internet and cloud storage gave access to extra capacity.
Since then we’ve seen storage capacities rocket. Seagate launched a 1.5TB HDD in 2008 with vendors providing almost annual increases thereafter: 2TB from WD in 2009; 3TB in 2010 and so on. HGST launched its helium-filled 6TB drive in 2013. As the density of helium is one-seventh that of air, there is less drag on the spinning disk stack. That allows narrower gaps between the disks resulting in more disks (and so more capacity) per stack. In 2014 Seagate shipped the world's first 8TB hard drives. Then came HGST’s 10TB HDD and this year WD is expected to release a 14TB HDD. There is also talk of Seagate releasing a 16TB HDD in 2018.
That helium-filled drive from HGST appeared in the same year as WD demonstrated Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), which uses a small laser to heat the part of the disk to which the data is being written, changing its coercitivy so allowing more data to be stored on the same area. Seagate is expected to market a HAMR disk this year.
Speed and capacity are driving innovation and it’s the enterprise-level user that will benefit the most. That HDD innovation looks set to continue with TDMR and BPMR. TDMR (Two-Dimensional Magnetic Recording), being pioneered by Seagate, is also expected to market this year, say industry watchers. It allows tracks to be narrower with no effect on the read-write ability of the heads. It is anticipated to increase areal density (the area available for data storage) by 5% to 10%.
BPMR (Bit-Patterned Media Recording) changes the way data is actually recorded on the disk surface using ‘islands’ so, again, increasing density. It’s still some way from market but shows how R&D is stepping up to meet the density and capacity challenge.
Heated Dot Magnetic Recording (HDMR) and Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording (MAMR) are other innovations looking to squeeze greater capacity from each platter. It may be 2025 before HDMR becomes mainstream but it does show, according to Seagate, that HDDs are set to remain in demand for the next couple of decades at least, holding their own against Flash drives.
Whatever the developments that emerge from the high levels of R&D undertaken by the disk manufacturers, Hammer is well-placed to deliver the right drive for your needs. Hammer has the reach, the vendor base, the expertise and test facilities to ensure your data storage needs are met, using the most appropriate storage methods.
Published Date: 17/03/2017
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