Western Digital hoping for 5x larger hard drives with HAMR

By on November 14, 2013, 7:00 PM
storage, western digital, hard drive, hamr, hard disk drive

Traditional methods for hard disk data storage are coming very close to reaching physical limits, so manufacturers are looking for alternatives to continue pushing drive capacity upwards. At a Chinese trade show, Western Digital has demostrated its new heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology, which has the potential for some serious increases.

Although HAMR technology was first developed by rival Seagate, Western Digital believes they can achieve five times the areal density of current drives using their implementation. To give you an idea of what that could bring to the table, the highest density drives currently have an areal density of 750 gigabits per inch; HAMR could increase this to over 4 terabits per inch.

HAMR works by briefly heating the hard disk's surface with a laser while the magnetic head is recording data, which causes the data bits to shrink, increasing areal density. Combined with nanotube lubrication that allows the magnetic head to get closer to the surface, HAMR-powered drives could be just as reliable as traditional drives, but with many times the storage capacity.

Seagate claims that HAMR could facilitate 60 terabyte 3.5-inch hard drives by 2016, and it's likely Western Digital will be able to achieve similar improvements with their implementation.

Heat-assisted magnetic recording is just one of several new developments that promise to push the limits of affordable drive storage. Shingled magnetic recording (SMR) brings moderate improvements to areal density by overlapping hard drive tracks, while bit patterned recording (BPM) could bring even larger increases.




User Comments: 21

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SirGCal SirGCal said:

Head closer to the surface means even more DOA drives due to the horrible shipping policies of places like Newegg and Amazon for bare hard drives. EEK!

To be more specific; how about focusing on other methods of storage instead of MAGNETIC MEDIA!!! Seriously...

4 people like this |
Staff
Scorpus Scorpus said:

To be more specific; how about focusing on other methods of storage instead of MAGNETIC MEDIA!!! Seriously...

Because there's no way a 60 TB solid state drive will be even remotely affordable in three years time

SirGCal SirGCal said:

To be more specific; how about focusing on other methods of storage instead of MAGNETIC MEDIA!!! Seriously...

Because there's no way a 60 TB solid state drive will be even remotely affordable in three years time

And to think solid state is the only other option available today is a poor assumption. They've messed with a lot of other technologies that they just haven't matured with. Honestly, if they got some of those going, Solid State would be ridiculously slow in comparison also. As well as tiny in storage capacity.

But even so, heat kills drives. Why would I want to intentionally cause even more heat. I've never liked that idea either. I'm just SICK of magnetic storage, and this from someone with 36TB of RAID 6 redundancy...

1 person liked this | yRaz yRaz said:

To be more specific; how about focusing on other methods of storage instead of MAGNETIC MEDIA!!! Seriously...

Because there's no way a 60 TB solid state drive will be even remotely affordable in three years time

And to think solid state is the only other option available today is an uneducated assumption. They've messed with a lot of other technologies that they just haven't matured with. Honestly, if they got some of those going, Solid State would be ridiculously slow in comparison also. As well as tiny in storage capacity.

But even so, heat kills drives. Why would I want to intentionally cause even more heat. I've never liked that idea either. I'm just SICK of magnetic storage, and this from someone with 36TB of RAID 6 redundancy...

you can go back to tape drives if you want

SirGCal SirGCal said:

you can go back to tape drives if you want

Wow, you can't read... or something... tape is also magnetic... that would be totally against what I said...

2 people like this | yRaz yRaz said:

you can go back to tape drives if you want

Wow, you can't read... or something... tape is also magnetic... that would be totally against what I said...

how about punch cards? They don't use magnets. Seriously dude, why do you hate magnets so much?

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Google wrote a research paper about heat related HDD death rate (look it up), they reported that there really is not much correlation between head and the death of a HDD.

SirGCal SirGCal said:

how about punch cards? They don't use magnets. Seriously dude, why do you hate magnets so much?

Enjoy living with 1950's technology they refuse to get rid of then if you love em so much. I prefer to look forward to better things instead of kicking the horse.

Right now all of the methods use surface recording. What a waste. Holographic recording dabbled in using the whole media, insane storage sizes in tiny cubes. But what they got to work was write one tech. Make that re-writable. That's also just one example.

Also because the HDDs are the most volatile part of a computer today and shipping them is a nightmare. I went through 26 4TB drives to get 8 of them to pass working properly to build a 24TB array. Even the manufacturers I called kept saying 'Yup, shipping kills em...', especially OEM drives which so many come as now. And that's through 4 different shippers and two manufacturers (WD & Seagate). Even buying 'retail' versions for the extra shipping padding wasn't a guarantee. And they're talking about making it even tighter tolerances which also means tinier defects will cause more fatal issues for data on the platters, plus another point of failure with the added laser... I just don't see it being a useful strategy in the real world.

Guest said:

Guest: "Google wrote a research paper about heat related HDD death rate (look it up), they reported that there really is not much correlation between head and the death of a HDD."

I think think you need to work on your reading skills....sigh. The whole report is actually about the strong correlation between temperature and hard drive failure: too hot and they fail quicker, too cold and they fail quicker too.

Guest said:

I didn't come here to start a measuring contest but just Google, "Google finds heat kills hard drives" and you will find evidence stating your statements wrong and mine right. In fact go to page 6 in Google's report and read the sentence, "We can conclude that at moderate temperature ranges it is likely that there are other effects which affect failure rates much more strongly than temperatures do."

Everyone else, this is great news, there are way to many nay-sayers in here. That kind of attitude isn't healthy.

Peace.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Head closer to the surface means even more DOA drives due to the horrible shipping policies of places like Newegg and Amazon for bare hard drives. EEK!

Newegg has some new packaging for shipping HDD's now. I'm surprised they didn't start doing this years ago though, since its such a simple idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E2GCqslsgo

Guest said:

How about this: [link]

Or this: [link]

AFAIK, neither of them involves extra heat. Are they in active use by now? If not, why?

Guest said:

Guys, what you fail to take into consideration is the shear volume of hard drives that are shipped out each year. Close to 600 million hard drives were produced last year. It is no small feat to produce that many hard drives with, as other users mentioned, the ridiculously tight tolerances. There are many great inventions in storage in the past few years, but not only do these new methods have to not only find a way to scale to such incredibly huge volume but also compete with the only mature technology capable of meeting the increasing storage demand

[link]

Guest said:

Well, why would head cause death of a drive?

inventix1136 said:

Lovely. Given that the newest drives have lower warranty and MUCH higher death rate vs. drives from 5 yrs ago, I wonder the failure rate of a drive with a laser and tighter tolerances?

P.S. Last time I ordered two 1TB WD black drives from NewEgg and they both been DOA so I RMA's them and lo and behold both replacement drives were also DOA so another RMA and this time one drive was DOA and the other was fine -- and these are supposed to be the BEST mechanical drives with longest warranty...

2 people like this | Guest said:

I work at a computer store building systems and servers. I build at least 10-20 computers a month with WD Black, Blue, and green drives. I also build servers and have used there RED enterprise edition drives. In 3 years I have only seen maybe half a dozen drives fail. The drives are shipped to our distributor (private not newegg, or ncix or anything) and then shipped to us. Some of your failure rates make me thing user error because thats insane having to use 24 drives to find 8 stable ones. Granted im not using the 4TB drives so maybe they have a higher failure rate... but SirGCal your claims seem a little outrageous. Maybe you should reconsider how you have the drives shipped (you can ask the company to pack them better) or stop buying from that distributor....

MrBungle said:

how about punch cards? They don't use magnets. Seriously dude, why do you hate magnets so much?

Enjoy living with 1950's technology they refuse to get rid of then if you love em so much. I prefer to look forward to better things instead of kicking the horse.

Just because a concept has been around for decades doesn't mean that its bad or needs replacing... cars, airplanes, electricity, over wire communication... all things that have been around since before anyone reading this was born... and call me old fashioned but I would like to evolve those techs rather than throw them out simply because they've been around for a while. New != better, old != bad

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Head closer to the surface means even more DOA drives due to the horrible shipping policies of places like Newegg and Amazon for bare hard drives. EEK!
When drives power down, the heads park in a position away from the platter. The only time the heads are over the platters are when the platters are spinning at a fast enough rate to create an air barrier between the platter and head. Head crashes during shipping will never be a cause of DOA drives, unless the head moves from the park position. In which case all drives would be just as vulnerable.

JC713 JC713 said:

This is great news for HDDs. They are still very relevant because of their huge capacities. This is huge, especially going into the 4K era.

MikeW MikeW said:

The next ten years I see people using multiple internal hard drive technologies to get the speed and storage size they want. It is going to be SSD piggy backed on old fashion Hard drive. Cry all you want just to see your post on the web. But the facts are not one technology meets the needs of high end users ATM. I like my SD and my old HD working toghter. I can through a 100 dollar wd 2 tb in my system and a 240 Gb ssd RAM I am smoking.

I do see more Magnetic hard drives coupled with SSD on them as a speed buffer. I think that technology will mature to the point of having a 64gb NAND with a magnetic drive is common place. So much in 10 years you wont find a hard drive with out flash storage coupled with magnetic.

When drives power down, the heads park in a position away from the platter. The only time the heads are over the platters are when the platters are spinning at a fast enough rate to create an air barrier between the platter and head. Head crashes during shipping will never be a cause of DOA drives, unless the head moves from the park position. In which case all drives would be just as vulnerable.

Companys like Neww EGG and amazon and tiger-direct order so many drive they are going to have a higher failure rate then if you went ot best buy. These companies do volume. But the percentage of drives coming off a line DOA is a very low percent. Also as long as you problem is fixed by the vendor what does it matter. It is not like you bought it and was left hanging. Amazon especially has customer service.

Guest said:

No Guest, SirGCal is correct in every way. He's the only one that has commented that is correct. If they focus on SSD tech instead of this, then it will drive the cost of the SSD down. His point is that the prices stay the same for SSD's or get more expensive because they keep pushing old tech. Wake up some.

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