Heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology is expected to enable rather massive increase of hard drives capacity in the coming years. It took the industry several decades to develop this technology and its mass roll-out was delayed several times. In fact, Western Digital even decided to use energy-assisted perpendicular magnetic recording (ePMR) and microwave-assisted (MAMR) technologies before moving on to HAMR. Yet, its rival Seagate is on track to introduce HAMR-based HDDs this year.
At its earnings conference last week Seagate reiterated plans to ship its 20 TB HAMR HDDs this December. Initially, the drives will be available to select customers as well as inside Seagate's Lyve modular storage systems. Seagate appears to be so confident of its HAMR technology that it also reiterated plans to introduce 50 TB hard drives in 2026.
"We remain on track to ship 20-TBHAMR drives starting in December, which is an important milestone, as we believe HAMR technology will be the industry’s path to scaling a real density and increasing drive capacities," said Dave Mosley, CEO of Seagate. "Seagate will be the first to ship this crucial technology with a path to deliver 50-TB HAMR drives forecast in 2026."
At present, Western Digital offers its Ultrastar DC HC650 20 TB HDD, but this drive uses energy-assisted shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology with all of its peculiarities when it comes to re-writing data. Therefore, Seagate's 20 TB HAMR drives will offer numerous performance advantages when compared to their direct rival, at least for customers who can get these HDDs.
Since HAMR HDDs will use new heads and new platters, it will take some time for Seagate to fully ramp up production of new hard drives. Furthermore, technology transition will cost money as Seagate will have to upgrade some of its manufacturing equipment.