Toshiba Details Plans for 30TB and Larger HDDs

(Image credit: Toshiba)

Showa Denko K.K. (SDK), the world's largest independent maker of hard drive platters, has confirmed that it developed media featuring MAS-MAMR (microwave assisted switching-microwave assisted magnetic recording) technology. Eventually, this technology will allow Toshiba, one of the key customers of SDK, to build HDDs with capacities of over 30TB.

MAS-MAMR is essentially a superset of MAMR technology, which alters magnetic coercivity of hard drive media using microwaves. With MAS-MAMR, coercivity is altered even more significantly, allowing even narrower tracks and thus increased areal density. The technology was co-developed by Showa Denko (media with a brand-new magnetic), TDK (read/write heads equipped with dual spin-injection-layer), and Toshiba (drives). The three companies did not disclose the actual areal density, but they indicate that MAS-MAMR will enable Toshiba to build HDDs with over 30TB capacities. They also didn't say how many platters these drives will feature.

Changing platters and read/write heads is a big deal for HDD makers. Typically, companies prefer to change one crucial component of their drives, but with heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), Seagate had to significantly alter the architecture of its hard drives. Apparently, Toshiba will have similar challenges with MAS-MAMR. Meanwhile, the good news is that the technology seems to scale, so it will be used for years to come.

Toshiba has already started shipments of MAMR-based 18TB HDDs for nearline and enterprise-grade NAS applications. MAS-MAMR platters and heads will be used for its second-generation MAMR drives. Unfortunately, Toshiba does not say when such drives will hit the market.

Perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) is running out of steam, so manufacturers need to use various energy-assisted magnetic recording (EAMR) technologies to tangibly increase the capacities of their hard drives. Seagate was first out of the gate with HAMR, but currently such HDDs are only available to select customers. By contrast, Western Digital (or rather its HGST division) bet on MAMR initially, but then chose to use energy-assisted PMR (ePMR) for commercial hard drives last year.

Recently, Western Digital implied that ePMR is a good enough technology to increase HDD capacities for years to come, before HAMR takes over, which left us wondering about the fate of MAMR. While we still have no idea regarding Western Digital's MAMR plans, it looks like Toshiba, Showa Denko, and TDK believe that MAMR and MAS-MAMR technologies have strong potential for capacity growth.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.