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October 11, 2011

Heat-assisted magnetic recording hard drives for 2015

Eetimes - Hard disk drive makers are gearing up for a generational shift to heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. Leading researchers will share their progress toward that goal at the annual Diskcon event next week.

For years, drive makers argued over the future of their road map. Some, led by Seagate, lobbied for HAMR; others, led by Hitachi GST, called for a move to bit-patterned media.

Both technologies aimed to deliver drives that could pack multiple terabits of data on a square inch of disk space.




Toshiba will claim at Diskcon it has found a way to use perpendicular recording to pack a terabit of information on a square inch of disk. It will demo 2.5-inch drives with 500 Gbyte platters at that density.

Early this year the two sides in the road-map debate quietly converged on HAMR as their next step.

"There's a general consensus the huge shift beyond perpendicular is at least three years out, so mainstream products won't ship until 2014 or 2015," said Mark Geenen, president of IDEMA, the disk drive trade group and host of Diskcon.

"Sometime before that—as early as 2013--companies may do a soft launch of the new technology to test it out in a less grueling areal density environment--it’s typical one or two companies will do it earlier than necessary," Geenen said.

Patterned media is believed to require billions of dollars in new capital equipment. "It isn't even on the radar" for drive makers today, Geenen said.

However patterned media is expected to make a comeback when HAMR runs out of gas. But that may not be until 2020 or beyond when drive makers are at an aerial density measured in multiple terabits, Geenen said.


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