80 TB Hard Disk Drives

Showa Denko corporation Denko (SDK, Japanese HDD media manufacturer) is the largest independent manufacturer of hard disk drive (HDD) magnetic media.  It sells this media to all the HDD manufacturers.  In February 2019 and again in 2020 SDK made some important announcement to enable future higher capacity HDDs.

In February 2019 SDK (said that it will begin shipment of newly developed 3.5-inch HD media for microwave assisted magnetic recording (MAMR).  This, as well as heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) are forms of energy assisted magnetic recording.  The company said that this product was adopted by Toshiba Electronic Devices and Storage Corporation for use in its MAMR HDDs with 18 TB for near-line storage applications.  SDK said that this media has a 2 TB per disk storage capacity on an aluminum substrate.   The company said that it was also working on HAMR media.  This MAMR product was their 10th generation conventional magnetic recording (CMR) with perpendicular recording.

On February 6, 2020 SDK said that it has developed media for HAMR .  The company says that it has worked out a new structure of magnetic layers and new ways of controlling temperature during HDD media production.  The new product has magnetic coercivity several times as high as the existing advanced HDD media, while achieving low noise due to very small crystal grain size and tight grain size distribution control.  Note that because of the high temperatures used HAMR media is very different from conventional HDD media and is often an iron-based alloy, rather than cobalt-based.  The transmission electron microscope images below show the new HAMR media.

Showa Denko HAMR media

SDK HAMR HDD Media

Image from SDK announcement

SDK said that current HDD storage areal densities are about 1.14 Tb/in2 with conventional recording technologies.  Using HAMR-based recording methods, areal densities of 5-6 Tb/in2 can be achieved.  If the same number of disks are used as in current 3.5-inch form factor near-line products (8-9 disks) this would enable HDD capacities of 70-80 TB.

Seagate has announced that it will provide HAMR HDDs with 20 TB by 2H 2020.  These drives may use Seagate’s internally manufactured HAMR media, but may also use SDK media.  Toshiba is expected to use SDK 2 TB MAMR disks in its 18 TB HDDs this year.  As mentioned in earlier blogs, Western Digital Corporation is shipping what it called energy assisted perpendicular magnetic recording (ePMR) HDDs with 18 and 20 TB capacities this year (20 TB is with shingled magnetic recording).  In the future, WDC said it will use MAMR and HAMR technology for its high capacity HDDs.

SDK’s announcements of MAMR and HAMR media in 2019 and 2020 show that there is industry support for higher capacity HDDs, particularly for near-line data center applications.  These HDDs could achieve storage capacities of 70-80 TB in the next few years.