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The Latest Storage Technology

The first hard drive was developed in 1956, which stored only 5MB of data and weighed over 1000 kilograms. The storage technology has come an exceptionally long way. This article explains the latest HDD storage technologies which may be the new era in HDD storage technology.

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Disk capacity has continued to grow steadily. Modern drives can now store up to 16T to 18TB. As the drive storage capacity increases, we are approaching the limits of conventional technology.

How to increase hard disc storage capacity?

Hard drives store data on the drive platter by changing the polarity of magnetic “bits”.  These bits are arranged into rings called “tracks”. 

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There are two ways to increase the hard disc capacity. 

1. Add more drive platters.

2. Add more tracks per platters or increase the bits per track

But each of these has problems though.

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We are out of space to add platters, as the highest capacity 18TB drive may already consist of nine platters into its enclosure.

Adding more tracks orbits has its problems too.  You need to shrink the write head to make the bits smaller. But the smaller header makes it hard to generate the magnetic field needed to write data.

However, the speed of innovation has slowed down, as we are reaching the maximum possible data density on a single platter.  This has led to the development of new storage technology such as Helium and Perpendicular Magnet Recording (PMR).

There is simply no more space left on the platters to record more data, even with these innovations. We cannot add more platters than we have now if we wish to keep the 3.5-inch standard used today.

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Despite the challenges, the big players are spending millions of dollars on research and development.  Any of these new technologies have yet to make it to the market.

IDC’s recent report, Data Age 2025 predicts worldwide data creation will grow ten times the amount in 2017.  That is an enormous 163 zettabytes (ZB) of data.

The Advanced Storage Technology Consortium (ASTC) which represented the industry consensus defined the roadmap for the storage technology. 

The two new techniques called MAMR and HAMR or Microwave and Heat-Assisted Aagnetic Recording may the solution. They both collectively called Energy-Assisted Magnetic Recording or EAMR.

This roadmap illustrates ASTC’s view of how storage technology will move from one another technology platform.

Both MAMR and HAMR are essentially energy-assisted recordings. But during the writing time, they use different energy approaches to overcome the coercivity of the medium.

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What is MAMR?

Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording (MAMR) uses 20-40 GHz frequencies to write on the disk platter with a circular microwave field, lowering its coercivity and enabling the bit value to be written.

Western Digital’s MAMR technology uses a Spin-Torque Oscillator to generate circular microwaves (20-40 GHz) to write on the medium.

What is HAMR?

Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) uses a 200 mW tiny laser beam to heat the disk platter to 750 °F (400 °C) and permit the writing operation.

The Seagate’s HAMR technology uses a tiny 200 mW laser to write information on the hard drive platter.

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HAMR and MAMR are just an evolutionary step of the current storage technology. Without being a radical breakthrough, these technologies allow bypass the current limitation of the PMR recording technology.

Toshiba released the world’s first MAMR drive with 18TB capacity. Seagate has 20TB rolled out for enterprise partners.

These EAMR (Energy-Assisted Magnetic Recording) methods should enable drives up to 60TB and beyond.  Changes like dual-actuator designs that could double the read speeds should bring huge improvements in the coming few years.