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Seagate demonstrates HAMR hard drive technology that promises 60 TB HDDs

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March 19, 2012

Seagate has achieved a milestone 1 terabit per square inch storage density using heat-assi...

Seagate has achieved a milestone 1 terabit per square inch storage density using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology

Despite solid state drives increasing in capacity in recent years, the humble platter-based 3.5-inch hard drive still reigns supreme as the data storage device to beat in terms of bits for your buck. But if traditional drives are going to meet user’s ever-increasing data storage demands they will need to improve on the maximum 620 gigabits per square inch storage densities currently possible in platter based 3.5-inch drives. That’s just what Seagate has demonstrated with new technology that has achieved a milestone storage density of 1 terabit per square inch.

From the advent of hard drives in 1956, the magnetic surface of the hard drive platters was divided in sub-micrometer-sized regions called magnetic domains that were oriented horizontally and parallel to the disk surface in what was called longitudinal recording. But around 2005/2006, Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) was introduced, which changed the orientation to perpendicular to allow for closer magnetic domain spacing and increase data storage capacity.

Seagate has now demonstrated a next-generation recording technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) that increases each platter’s storage capacity by shrinking a platter’s data bits and also tightening the concentric circles, known as data tracks, on the disk’s surface that anchor the bits.

Shrinking the data bits much further isn’t possible in current hard disk technologies because the magnetization of sufficiently small nanoparticles can randomly flip direction under the influence of temperature in what is known as superparamagnetism. HAMR technology gets around this by using materials that are stable at much smaller sizes, but which require heating with a laser before the magnetic orientation of a bit can be changed.

At the current limit of around 620 gigabits per square inch, the maximum storage capacity of today’s 3.5-inch HDDs is 3 TB, while 2.5-inch HDDs with a storage densities of around 500 gigabits per square inch top out at 750 GB. By using HAMR technology, Seagate says it has achieved a linear bit density of roughly two million bits per inch, and a data density of just over one trillion bits (1 terabit) per square inch.

Seagate anticipates that the first generation of HAMR drives will more than double the current capacities to 6 TB for 3.5-inch drives and 2 TB for 2.5-inch drives. However, with the technology offering a theoretical area density limit of somewhere from five to ten terabits per square inch, it says that 30 TB to 60 TB 3.5-inch drives and 10 TB to 20 TB 2.5-inch drives are possible in the future.

Seagate says its first HAMR hard drives will be introduced later this decade, with drives offering up to 60 TB likely to appear in the following ten years.

Source: Seagate

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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10 Comments

May i be the first to ask what it must be like to defrag a 60 terabyte hard drive?

Jim Sadler
20th March, 2012 @ 12:06 pm PDT

In spite of 1TB 2.5" hard drives we have the iPads limited to 64GB. Quite a storage gap with the current generation of tablet computers that has yet to be bridged by anyone.

If the majority of people are using tablet computers then the future of DASD is in solid state devices and not hard drives for personal computers. Great for the server farms of Google and others as higher densities means more data per kcal of heat generated.

Calson
20th March, 2012 @ 12:57 pm PDT

cool, I look forward to filling her up.

& FYI 3TB isn't the limit for current HDD's, Hitachi has a 4TB one out...

Derek Howe
20th March, 2012 @ 04:26 pm PDT

I agree with Jim's comment regarding current and future

SSD (solid state drive) technology.

Who is going to be using a mechanical drive in 5 years,

with vastly inferior read/write transfer rates, power

consumption, noise and heat generation?

A few companies have produced extremely impressive

results with combo hybrid drives.

One company's product directly connects into a 4x PCI-e

slot in the motherboard producing a read speed of up to

1.5 Gigabytes/sec compared to an HDD - mechanical hard

drive on average of 105 Megabytes/sec.

Many computer mags no convey the message that 'your

computer is only as fast as the slowest component' ......

the hard drive.

I'm not a believer in 'The Cloud' for privacy reasons, but

when will you or I at home want more than 3-5 Terabytes

of storage.

Archivists are continually experiencing storage medium

technology transfer issues every 7 - 10 years.

What's just around the next corner?

stavros8087
20th March, 2012 @ 07:28 pm PDT

@ stavros8087 said "when will you or I at home want more than 3-5 Terabytes

of storage."

My short answer would be: now.

I have a 4.5TB NAS and have less then a TB of available space......

I would prefer to (eventually) ditch the NAS and have all my media on one hard drive, can't do that yet since the largest HDD available, is to small to hold all my files.

Just because you don't have a lot of digital media, doesn't mean anybody else does.

Derek Howe
20th March, 2012 @ 09:23 pm PDT

@stavros -

Doesn't take much to fill up 3-5TB of movies, music and photos from photography.

Photos can easily be 14mb each even, and then not to mention music files for production. A 3 minute song generally in .mp3 would be 3MB for example.. .wav though is 30MB. Notice how 100 .wav songs alone takes up 3GB already?

Oh, and not to mention the amount of space games take up..

If I had an option for a hard drive with even 10TB of capacity, I'd jump all over it and be satisfied for a while.

I've got over 3TB used already with all my movies, music, games etc combined.. and I'm constantly downloading more.

Yes, people like yourself may not need or use it, but there's a lot of people out there who would definitely love the option for a high capacity HD all in 1. Not having to take 3-5 different ones around the place.

Markay
21st March, 2012 @ 04:32 am PDT

There was a British politician who said in the 50s that he couldn't imagine a time when Britain would need more than 3 computers. I see the same scope of imagination displayed here. Let's imagine for a second what you could do with this technology if it was cheeply available. How about video recording everything, or replacing all your snapshots with ultra high def video, or archiving all your media. In 10 years time we may be onto video with depth information encoded or 3d, light field photography. Yes it will be slow, but imagine a system that automatically archives your least used data to such devices and pulls it out to faster media as the need arises... The most likely use will be something no one has yet thought of

Gethin Coles
21st March, 2012 @ 06:04 am PDT

and dont forget to imagine all of your eggs in one basket. 1 drive of this large size fails and the amount of data loss is simply incredible, youd have to raid5 to insure yourself against such a massive data loss meaning youd need 4 of these things. Even in todays standards we rely heavily on 1 single drive be it ssd or rotational media.

Mark Richardson
28th March, 2012 @ 04:51 am PDT

Storage for tablet computers is better suited to Cloud based services, with local storage suited to immediate needs.

With platters reaching a 1tb limit, I'm not sure how more they can go with a) IO efficiency b) without high risk to data loss c) physical size

Andy Furnival
8th June, 2012 @ 04:00 am PDT

I could not help but chuckle a bit at the suggestion that there's no need for 4-5 TB of storage space. I don't keep a single uncompressed/lossless movie/music disc on my 5TB storage solution, yet my hard drives are jampacked and I keep looking at product announcements hoping that some bigger hard drive will have been released in the meantime. I'm not a hoarder by any means, I don't download things just "because I can". I'm very selective at what I download, it has to be stuff that interests me, usually educational stuff such as video lectures and documentaries. I always avoid bloated or uncompressed files and if possible I recompress it even further in order to save more space. Yet, here I am 5TB later, in need for even more storage space...

neuralvibes
17th October, 2012 @ 08:41 am PDT
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