Seagate Uses ‘HAMR’ to Increase Drive Densities by a Factor of 100

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Seagate has decided to use a Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) technology to cram more and more bits of information per square inch into hard disc drives, pushing the limits of magnetic recording even further beyond what was ever thought possible. The Company yesterday demonstrated its revolutionary HAMR, which records data magnetically on high-stability media using laser thermal assistance.

This demonstration took place during the grand opening celebration of Seagate’s new 200,000 square foot, state of the art research center located in Pittsburgh, PA.

HAMR, combined with self-ordered magnetic arrays of iron-platinum particles, is expected to break through the so-called superparamagnetic limit of magnetic recording by more than a factor of 100 to ultimately deliver storage densities as great as 50 terabits per square inch. This will provide the capability for people to store the entire printed contents of the Library of Congress on a single disc drive in their notebook computers.

Seagate’s HAMR technology is also designed to achieve its high areal densities at a cost structure on pace with the hard disc drives of today, making HAMR a key enabling technology that will allow the adoption of mass storage to continue to enter various emerging markets.

“With this demonstration of HAMR, Seagate has offered us a glimpse of future magnetic recording technology. Technologies such as HAMR will continue to keep disc drives as the preferred mass storage device for mainstream computing for many years to come,” said Dave Reinsel, research manager at IDC. “Competitive offerings to traditional magnetic recording must not only be able to achieve the fast performance, high capacities, and reliability found in today’s disc drives, but also must be priced competitively. Seagate’s HAMR technology has the potential to maintain a competitive balance of these attributes thus paving the way for the integration of this new technology.”

Seagate Research has worked on HAMR technology as well as various other storage technologies since it was established in a temporary research facility in 1998. Last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Advanced Technology Program recognized the impact that HAMR will hold for storage and awarded Seagate and its research partners a grant worth over $10 million over five years. Seagate’s forward-thinking strategy with R & D has enabled the company to consistently achieve its leadership position in all markets Seagate serves.

“Seagate’s leadership position can be attributed to an ongoing commitment to investment in research and technology development which provides us with time-to-market products for our customers,” said Steve Luczo, Seagate chief executive officer. “By providing leadership products that give our customers a significant competitive advantage, we have strengthened our strategic relationships with the world’s leading technology providers.”

How it Works
HAMR technology will significantly extend the capacity of modern magnetic disc drives that use magnetic heads to read and write digital data onto spinning discs. If the storage density (the number of data bits stored on a given disc surface) continues its phenomenal growth rate, within the next five-to-ten years the data bits will become so small that they may become magnetically unstable due to a phenomenon known as superparamagnetism. The solution is to use a more stable medium, however today’s magnetic heads are unable to write data on such media. HAMR solves this problem by heating the medium with a laser-generated beam at the precise spot where data bits are being recorded. When heated, the medium becomes easier to write, and the rapid subsequent cooling stabilizes the written data. The result of this heat- assisted recording is a dramatic increase in the recorded density that can be achieved.

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