HDD Big Comeback

Traditional hard disk drives have their places as in integral part of datacentres and servers. The amount of data generated is growing rapidly so servers must keep up with a huge space demand. The answer to large capacity requirements lays with HDDs that are characterised by a higher capacity and a lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Therefore, it is not hard to predict that in the next few years we can expect to see larger HDDs entering the market over and above the 18TBs and 20TBs already announced.

MAMR (Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording) and HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) technologies are said to be the main ways to increase capacity. However, the introduction of the above technologies has been delayed and the indirect ePMR (Energy-Assist PMR) method has been developed instead. It was discovered by Western Digital, and the method was developed during work related to MAMR. It is said it uses a new physical phenomenon, although the manufacturer did not want to reveal exactly what it is.

The ePMR technology is already used by the highest capacity models in the Western Digital's offer: WD Ultrastar DC HC550 18TB and WD Ultrastar DC HC650 20TB. Of course, this is only the beginning of technology development and over time, more and more capacious constructions using CMR (Conventional Magnetic Recording) and SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) will appear. In 2021, WD plans to release 20 and 24TB media, in 2022 with 22 and 26TB capacity, and in 2023 with 26 and 30TB capacity.

After 2023, Western Digital plans to switch to MAMR technology, which will significantly increase the density of data storage and thus increase disk capacity.

While WD is looking into MAMR and ePMR technology, another big player in hard drive manufacturing, Seagate, promises HAMR hard drives in 18TBs and 20TBs models to be available in 2020. The 18TB drive will use the same nine-platter design seen in the existing 16TB Exos drive and uses CMR. However, it’s another story for the 20TB drive.

Seagate is set to move from CMR to SMR for the 20TB drive. SMR designs utilise overlapping paths that are characterised by higher data density. The drive will also use HAMR, which temporarily heats the disk material and allows data to be written on much smaller regions. Seagate has been working on the HAMR technology for a long time, and the promise of higher areal densities with higher stability of data once written, seems to finally become a reality.

The future of HDD capacity development seems to be very promising - according to forecasts, in 2026 constructions with CMR recording set to reach 50TB, and with SMR recording up to 80TB. Unfortunately, the introduction of new technologies will be associated with a cost increase.

As always, contact your drive team for the most up-to-date tech developments, and how each can benefit your individual business.


Source: Hammer
Published Date: 09/04/2020

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