Seagate demos HAMR tech to produce 20TB hard drives by 2020

Seagate demos HAMR tech to produce 20TB hard drives by 2020

Summary: Heat-assisted magnetic recording can blast through current data density limits, but don't expect drives using the technology before 2016.

TOPICS: Storage, Hardware

At the CEATEC 2013 show in Tokyo this week, Seagate is demonstrating a new technology that could breathe new life into the old magnetic hard drive.

Using current technology, the data density of a typical hard drive platter is expected to max out at about 1 terabit per square inch, which means that not a lot more terabytes of data will be squeezed into traditional hard drives.

Enter heat-assisted magnetic recording. As its name suggests, HAMR works by heating the platter area with a laser to make it possible to increase the data density significantly. How much? According to Seagate, the limit could jump from 1 terabit to 5 terabits per square inch.

That could mean that 20TB hard drives will be possible, a fivefold increase in capacity from the biggest drives offered today. Unfortunately, Seagate doesn't expect one of those drives to be commercially available until 2020, and the first HAMR-based drives aren't expected on the market until 2016.

Nonetheless, Seagate is displaying a 2.5-inch prototype HAMR drive spinning at 10,000rpm at CEATEC. It may not be as sexy as the latest innovations in solid-state drives, but the ability for manufacturers to wring more capacity out of that storage standby, the humble hard drive, after all these years is remarkable, too.

Topics: Storage, Hardware

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  • Consumer versus server

    I get it why businesses running banks of servers would want 20TB drives rather than five 4TB drives.

    But for the general public, at what point is this industrial-only and simply not relevant? 3D TV never caught on and chances are UHD won't either, and probably the same with Nokia's new 41 megapixel PHONE camera.

    Even today, realistically, how many INDIVIDUALS need a 4TB drive?
    • Re: how many INDIVIDUALS need a 4TB drive?

      Don't know about you.. but I have one little server with four of them and few more lying around for standalone backups.

      That said, I am definitely not a fan of "grow your PC" as many people I know are.
      Perhaps because I have few data centers full of racks at my disposal, should I need to store few hundred TB of data overnight...

      So apparently individuals still do want large storage capacities. Whether they need it, is another topic.
    • 4TB is nothing.. for many people.

      My family have a small server running disks with a total storage capasity of about 30TB. That is not enough.. so we add a 2-3TB disk a few times a year.
      The server does all the back-up of the families 7 stationary PCs (4 windows, 1 mac and 1 Linux). It also does the back-up of the 5 laptops we have, and 4 smart phones and 4 tablets.
      We have a lot of images and video we take and edit. Huge files. Massive amounts of data due to high resolution. With 4K comming.. this will take even more space.
      The server is also the main media server in the house, and records movies/series from several TVs until we have the time to see it. We hardly ever see live TV no more.
      Oh yeah.. we also back up two PS3s.. it all takes space.
      We have also ripped all our DVDs, and store them on the server. No disks taking up space anymore. They were put in boxes several years ago, and live their life in the basement storage.
      We also have some of the drives mirrored, and all the data is stored (divided up) in several cloud storage solutions.. so we don't have to pay to much.
      We are in the market for 10-20TB.. if just the price is all right. I would have no problem it that disk was slow, fat and 5,25" (like the Big Foot drives). I would be happy if the platters was the size of old laserdiscs too.. if they could store a lot of data, at a good price.

      We also happen to own a couple of the Nokia 808 Pureview.. and the camera is fantastic for a phone. You can never go back to a POS junk camera on many other phones. We are going to get a Nokia 1520 and a 930 soon, to replace other phones. The Nokia camera is so much better then people think. Low light, no problem. Delivers good results.
      And we have taken some pictures that you only could take with a phone - since we have it with us most of the time. Catching stuff as it happens, with no time to fetch the Nikon D series camera.

      So.. we can not get enough HDD store space AND we LOVE the Nokia camera :-)
      We use Android on some phones and on the tablets. But the Nokia camera, the righ res clear black display and the Nokia Drive/music/radio app have convinced us that we will try out the Nokia Lumia series next.
      But.. on the other hand.. people are different. My dad manages with a 60Gb SSD and a 1TB HDD for his needs. But slowly he is growing out of the 1TB drive as holiday photos take up more and more space for each year. For every time he gets a new camera, the resolution is higher and so is the file sizes..