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Western Digital launches world's first MAMR HDD

13 October 2017

WESTERN DIGITAL (WD) has unveiled what it claims is the "world's first" microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) hard-disk that, it claims, can improve capacity, performance and reliability of conventional hard-disk technology. The company performed the reveal at its "Innovating to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data" event at its headquarters in Silicon Valley yesterday.

Western Digital expects MAMR technology to crunch more than 4 terabits into a square inch of disk space.

For about the previous year and a half, flash memory storage devices have held the honor of stuffing more data in less space than any rotating magnetic storage (hard disk drive) device. "Our ground-breaking advancement in MAMR technology will enable Western Digital to address the future of high capacity storage by redefining the density potential of HDDs and introduce a new class of highly reliable, "ultra-high capacity" drives".

WD says that the material science and reliability challenges that have prolonged the development of HAMR are not an issue when it comes to MAMR. Even if your local data is on a zippy SSD, whatever you have in the cloud is living on big spinning hard drives. HAMR has reliability issues due to the extreme heat utilized in the process and requires several complex and costly changes to drive infrastructure, among other challenges.

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"For the past few years, Western Digital has been a time-to-market leader at each of these higher-capacity points, so the company has just been a step or two ahead of the competition in terms of introducing these very high-capacity drives", he said.

"At the heart of the company's innovation breakthrough is the "spin torque oscillator" used to generate a microwave field that increases the ability to record data at ultra-high density without sacrificing reliability", the company claimed. With sustained improvements in recording density, MAMR promises to enable hard drives with 40TB of capacity and beyond by 2025, and continued expansion beyond that timeframe. The head design would also be completely different than current hard drives, which adds to the manufacturing complications. The Damascene process involves precise depositing and etching layers of magnetic and non-magnetic materials to arrive at a finished head.

UBS lowers its Western Digital (NYSE:WDC) price target from $101 to $93 and maintains a Neutral rating. Everywhere data lives, from advanced data centers to mobile sensors to personal devices, our industry-leading solutions deliver the possibilities of data.

No release date for the new Ultrastar Hs14 hard drive has been announced, but large customers are now sampling the product in low volumes, a Western Digital spokeswoman said.

Western Digital launches world's first MAMR HDD