Something to look forward to: Just a couple of weeks after Western Digital released its first 20-terabyte hard drive, its CEO spoke at a conference where he laid out some of its future plans. They include details on the technology Western Digital plans to use in the future to push storage capacity even further.
At the annual Wells Fargo TMT Summit this week, one of the subjects Western Digital CEO David Goeckeler spoke about was the company's approach to technologies like OptiNAND, SRM, and HAMR. Goeckeler considers all three crucial to increasing density and getting to ever-larger hard drives.
Last year, Seagate shipped out its 20TB hard drives, which use HAMR to select data center customers. Last month, WD released its own 20TB drives to general consumers (currently sold out) with OptiNAND technology, which uses flash memory to store metadata.
"We're heavily invested in HAMR," he said. "HAMR is going to be real, it's going to be in the future," Goeckeler said.
HAMR will increase the longevity of hard drives but will also require a lot of software work and won't be commercialized for several years.
WD and Seagate both want to get to 30TB by the middle of the decade, and Seagate intends to reach 100TB by 2030. Goeckeler thinks WD already has the stepping stones to get there with ePMR (energy-assisted storage), SMR (another density-increasing method), and OptiNAND.
"I think SMR is going to get more real and customers are getting more real about it," the WD boss said.
One of those steps could be 22TB hard drives in 2022. WD's current high-capacity HDD uses nine platters, with 2.2TB per platter. Goeckeler says they can release one with a 10th platter.
One technology Goeckeler doesn't mention is MAMR. Western Digital proposed the technology in 2017, saying it could allow for 40TB hard drives by 2025.