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Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording= 40TB

Western Digital announced a new storage technology that can boost Hard Drive Capacity to 40TB in the next decade. Credit: WD

Western Digital -WD-, one of the largest manufacturers of hard drives and other storage media that acquired San Disk in 2016, is offering its 4TB MyPassport HDD for around 100$. Only 2 years ago the top of the line was 1TB and it was priced at over 200$. Where is evolution leading to in the next decade?

At its Innovation to fuel the next decade of Big Data WD presented a new storage technology, MAMR – Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording, that can deliver HDD with 40TB, ten times as much as today’s top of the line product, by 2025.

MAMR is a technology that aims at creating a local condition for storing a bit without affecting nearby storage. The problem in increasing storage density is that one needs to use less and less energy for storing to make sure that only the area where the bit has to be stored is affected. However as you squeeze the area the amount of energy that you can use gets so low that you can no longer store the bit. The way around is to change the characteristics of the local area to make it more sensitive than the surrounding area. This is what is done with HAMR, Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording. A laser heats the area where a bit has to be stored making it more sensitive to the magnetic field used to store the bit. The surrounding area is colder and that magnetic field has no effect. The laser can heat the area in a tenth of a nanosecond. The problem with HAMR is the reliability of the material used. MAMR, on the contrary is not facing this issue. The heating of the area is achieved through a microwave field generated by a spin torque oscillator. The storage density is reaching 4Tb per square inch and it is expected to lead to even higher densities in the next decade.

WD is expecting to deploy the first HDD based on MAMR technology in 2019 for use in Data Centres. The cost is expected to decrease and reach a point where mass market products like MyPassport can make use of that technology.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.