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Western Digital touts world’s first microwave-assisted magnetic recording hard-disk drive

Western Digital has revealed what it claims is the world’s first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) hard-disk drive, and suggested that the disk-drives using the technology will be out during 2019.

According to WD, current heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technologies are reaching their limits in terms of performance and capacity, but MAMR promises to be able to improve both capacity and performance.

“At the heart of the company’s innovation breakthrough is the ‘spin torque oscillator’ used to generate a microwave field that increases the ability to record data at ultra-high density without sacrificing reliability,” the company claimed.

It added that the technology ought to be capable of capacities of more than four terabits per square inch over time. “With sustained improvements in recording density, MAMR promises to enable hard drives with 40TB of capacity and beyond by 2025, and continued expansion beyond that time-frame…

“It builds upon a number of other leading innovations from the company.

“In addition to HelioSeal helium-filled drive technology, MAMR also builds upon the company’s micro actuation and recording head manufacturing technologies. Western Digital’s advanced micro actuation technology for data center applications enables hard drives to accurately and reliably position magnetic heads for writing and reading at ultra-high densities,” claimed WD.

The first MAMR hard-disk drives will be running in data centres by 2020, according to WD, but will quickly find their way into an array of different products, including consumer products, according to IDC.

“Commercialisation of MAMR technology will pave the way to higher recording densities, and lower cost per terabyte hard disk drives for enterprise data centres, video surveillance systems, and consumer NAS products,” said John Rydning, research vice president, hard disk drives, at IDC. 

WD's roadmap for MAMR technology adoption

In addition to higher capacities, hard-disk drives based on MAMR should also be much improved – WD claims that its reliability tests show median head time-to-failure to be 100-times better than with current technologies. “Additionally, the 99.99 per cent write lifetime target reliability is a million times better than HAMR,” according to WD.  

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