Western Digital Estimates HAMR HDDs to Emerge in 1.5 Years

Western Digital is considerably behind its rival Seagate in adopting heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), which guarantees radical enhancements to areal density and HDD capacities. Nonetheless, the corporate expects exhausting drives that use this recording methodology to enter mass manufacturing within the subsequent 1.5 years. This expertise will open doorways for nearline drives providing 40 TB – 50 TB capacities within the coming years.

Seagate recently said it was months away from introducing its 32 TB nearline exhausting drives that includes its HAMR expertise, with 36 TB and 40 TB HDDs to observe. The introduction of 32 TB exhausting drives will undoubtedly put Seagate in a number one place so far as capability is worried, as the best capability drive that Western Digital has in the present day is its Ultrastar DC HC670 26 TB that includes UltraSMR set of technologies. At a latest convention, monetary analysts requested Western Digital when the corporate expects its HAMR HDDs to emerge. The agency envisions these drives to enter mass manufacturing in circa 1.5 years.

“On the HAMR aspect, we are in all probability one 12 months to 1.5 years plus earlier than we get kind of quantity manufacturing anyway,” stated Wissam Jabre, the chief monetary officer of Western Digital, on the Financial institution of America Securities 2023 International Know-how Convention (by way of SeekingAlpha).

HAMR is a extremely complicated expertise. It requires novel platters able to enduring intense native warmth of roughly 450°C or greater (generated utilizing a laser with an ~810 nm wavelength and a ~20 mW energy) with out deforming over time. These platters are anticipated to be produced from glass substrates and lined with a skinny Fe-Pt alloy magnetic layer to guarantee reliability and resist eventual deformation.

“HAMR could possibly be one of many subsequent on the roadmap,” stated Jabre. “[…] Our engineering groups have accomplished loads of R&D round [HAMR] […], it requires loads of work on the fabric science in addition to the physics. But in addition, a lot work is required by way of commercialization, which means having the ability to manufacture at scale, guaranteeing the yields are the place they must be, and having a dependable product that may final for a number of years. So, it takes time to get there.”

All HDD makers have been engaged on HAMR HDDs for nicely over a decade, however solely Seagate determined to wager on HAMR boldly. In distinction, Toshiba and Western Digital adopted energy-assisted perpendicular magnetic recording (ePMR) and microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) earlier than adopting HAMR.

Western Digital’s roadmap consists of the twond Technology ePMR 2 platform, which permits for areal densities over 1.3 Tb/inch2 (an 18% over ePMR). Such areal density will allow the corporate to construct 3.5-inch platters with a capability of over 3.5 TB. Thus Western Digital will have the ability to provide HDDs with a ~36 TB capability that includes 10 of such disks within the coming quarters. In the meantime, the corporate says this expertise might be used for CMR HDDs with 24 TB – 30+ TB capability factors.

After all, the important thing query is when exactly such drives are set to be introduced, certified, and shipped. However a minimum of it appears to be like like Western Digital is about to remain aggressive with Seagate relating to HDD capacities for the foreseeable future.

As for HAMR, Western Digital expects this recording expertise to allow areal densities greater than 2 Tb/inch2, which permits it to construct ~5.4 TB 3.5-inch platters, opening doorways for HDDs with capacities of round 50+ TB.

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