Western Digital Is Working On 40 TB Hard Drives With The Help Of Microwaves

Sure, Western Digital missed the opportunity to buy Toshiba’s flash memory technology, but that doesn’t mean it’s not working hard on trying to develop new innovative ways for data storage. The company has now revealed a groundbreaking data storage technology called microwave-assisted magnetic recording, or MAMR, which will pave the way for 40 TB hard disk drives by no later than 2025. But Western Digital says the core technology will start rolling out to data centers by 2019. This is terrific news, especially since users are currently generating data much faster than storage devices have been able to keep up with — even mobile phones now have 256 GB of storage, and even that is sometimes amazingly not enough for others. Like it or not, people are now living in the data age, and innovations in hardware need to reflect that. “Commercialization of MAMR technology will pave the way to higher recording densities and lower cost per terabyte hard disk drives,” said John Rydning, Western Digital’s VP of research. So what does microwave technology have to with hard disk drives? Here’s the deal: Western Digital has created a new technology called spin torque oscillator, which produces a microwave field. This enables writing data into magnetic media at a lower magnetic field than typical hard disks, which means it’s possible to “pack more bits into the same space,” as Engadget puts it. MAMR is “ready for prime time,” and it’s able to provide customers “a more cost-effective, more reliable solution,” according to Western Digital in a more tech-savvy post discussing the underpinnings of the technology. It adds that MAMR can “extend areal density gains up to 4 Terabits per square inch” and will rely on helium for turbulence reduction, as with the company’s other drives geared toward enterprises. What does this mean, though? Is this an entirely new type of hard disk drives? Well, not exactly. Western Digital will still use what’s essentially the same disk space, but it will rely on MAMR going forward to try and cram more data into a data storage technology people have been using for years. It sounds less glamorous this way, sure, but it’s the best option for now, as Gizmodo points out. But there’s also the matter of reliability versus cost. SSDs are fast becoming popular across laptops and desktops because they’re faster and arguably more reliable than HDDs that have fragile spinning disks, but it’s significantly more expensive. If MAMR works anything like Western Digital describes, it could be crucial for data centers and cloud storage enterprises, especially as people crave, use, store, and demand more storage and data.

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