Offering a brief update on the future of hard drives, Seagate has shared some fresh insights concerning launch of its next generation hard drives featuring its heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. The company’s initial commercial HAMR hard drive is set to offer a 32 TB capacity, presumably in the third quarter of 2023, but the new recording technology will enable a relatively quick capacity increase to 40 TB. Meanwhile, high-capacity HAMR HDDs will co-exist with yet-to-be-released 24 TB and 28 TB drives.
The initial 32 TB HAMR-based HDDs from Seagate will rely on the company’s 10-platter platform that is akin to that already in use by the company and which has predictable yields and which eliminates one potential point of failure. Given that the company will have to use new media and new write heads with its HAMR hard drives, it is a reasonable move to keep re-using as many proven parts as possible. That 10-platter HAMR platform will be used for 36TB, 40TB, and even higher-capacity HDDs going forward, presumably with as few changes as possible.
“When you go to HAMR, our 32TB is based on 10 disks and 20 heads,” said Gianluca Romano, Seagate’s chief financial officer, at the Bank of America 2023 Global Technology Conference (via SeekingAlpha). “The following product will be a 36TB and will still be based on 10 disks and 20 heads. So, all the increase is coming through areal density. The following one, 40TB, still the same 10 disks and 20 heads. Also, the 50TB, we said at our earnings release, in our lab, we are already running individual disk at 5TB.”
Earlier this year Seagate said that it would ‘launch its 30-plus terabyte platform in the June quarter,’ so expect these drives to get into hands and racks of hyperscale cloud service providers in the coming months.
Back in April the company said it was shipping HAMR drives inside its Corvault systems for revenue, however, the company refrained from officially disclosing their capacities and only indicated that they were based on the 30 TB+ platform. Meanwhile the company is shipping its HAMR HDDs for qualification to hyperscalers, which will deploy them after they pass their tests.
In anticipation of the full rollout of HAMR drives, some cloud service providers may opt to use Seagate’s 24TB HDDs, which rely on its traditional perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology with two dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) read heads. Additionally, some may even go with 28 TB hard drives that use shingled magnetic recording. Meanwhile, Seagate stresses that these HDDs will be its final high-capacity nearline drives that use perpendicular magnetic recording.
“So, we have a 24TB coming out soon, next few months, you will see it,” said Romano. “That is the last PMR product. So I would say [higher] capacity point above 24TB PMR, that is probably 28TB SMR.”
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