Western Digital: MAMR hard-disk paves way for 40TB drives by 2025

That honor now returns to hard drives thanks to a stunning jump reported Wednesday by Western Digital Corp.

At a recent event in San Jose, Western Digital announced a breakthrough in ultra-high capacity storage called microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR).

The new technology was demonstrated at the Innovation to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data event, meaning that the technology works. The advantage over other energy-assisted technologies, such as heat-assisted magnetic recording, is that it utilises the same materials.

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Unveiled by Western Digital's Mike Cordano during a presentation with MAMR inventor Jimmy Zhu, the technology is designed as a replacement for the heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) system rival Seagate first demonstrated back in 2012.

MAMR is one of two energy-assisted technologies that Western Digital has been developing for years.

The company says its Damascene head-making process is the second key component in bringing MAMR technology to a manufacturable state. The company claims that MAMR can deliver on the reliability and cost targets needed by its datacenter customers, and HAMR cannot. The company recently innovated a breakthrough in material and process that provides the required reliable and predictable performance, as well as the manufacturability to accelerate areal density and cost improvements to an estimated average of 15 percent per year.

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According to the company, the technology will enable hard drives with 40TB of capacity by 2025 and will offer over four terabits-per-square-inch over time.

"Western Digital's demonstration of MAMR technology is a significant breakthrough for the hard disk drive industry", said John Rydning, research vice president, Hard Disk Drives, IDC. The concept isn't new - the original patent for using heat to increase the stability of magnetically-stored data was granted in 1954, and the technology itself saw brief usage in magneto-optical drives from the 1980s before writeable CDs cornered the market for low-priced write-once mass storage - but Western Digital claims MAMR is now ready for prime time. The company's head manufacturing operations are the only internal supplier to utilize Damascene processing to manufacture heads with the precise tolerances and complex structures required for reliable and cost-effective recording at ultra-high densities.

Western Digital has a nice new video which demonstrates all of their HDD innovations, including the new MAMR.

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No release date for the new Ultrastar Hs14 hard drive has been announced, but large customers are now sampling the product in low volumes, a Western Digital spokeswoman said.

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