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.