Inside Western Digital: How Tomorrow's Storage Gets Made
My first hard drive, entombed in a 1988 XT clone, stored 20 megabytes and clicked and chugged almost as much as my dad’s Buick. Back then, I worried about preserving 30KB text files. Now, I have to preserve, well, everything.
Perhaps like you, I’ve lost count of how many terabytes of capacity I have at my disposal, both on hand and online. We all know that solid state storage is great for speed and for shaving off seconds from your level load times, but hard drives safeguard your life. Your papers, projects, photos, bank reports, movies, music collection—every valuable byte of data you own—is probably stored on magnetic platters. Where do these platters come from? How are they designed and tested? Maybe most importantly, given that my personal storage needs have exploded by literally 100,000 times since that first hard drive 23 years ago, how can I know that my ever-escalating capacity needs will continue to be affordably met five or ten years from now?
When you buy a car, you look under the hood. Given the critical importance of hard disk storage in all of our lives, we thought you might want a peek under that hood, too. Now that Western Digital is in the business of breaking new capacity records (the latest Caviar Green was the first drive to hit 2TB, for example), we jumped at the chance to take a first-ever, unrestricted tour of its California R&D facilities. This is the place where magnetic technology of the 1950s meets the nano- and quantum-level technologies of the current decade.