Thursday, October 12th 2017

Western Digital Announces Magnetic Storage Breakthrough Enabling 40TB HDDs

At its "Innovating to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data" event today, Western Digital Corp. announced a breakthrough innovation for delivering ultra-high capacity hard disk drives (HDDs) to meet the future demands of Big Data with proven data center-level reliability. The event, held at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley, included a demonstration of the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) HDD and presentations from company executives and the inventor of MAMR technology, Professor Jimmy Zhu from Carnegie Mellon University. The company also showcased advancements in micro actuation and Damascene recording head technology. Western Digital expects to begin shipping ultra-high capacity MAMR HDDs in 2019 for use in data centers that support Big Data applications across a full range of industries.

"As the volume, velocity, variety, value and longevity of both Big Data and Fast Data grow, a new generation of storage technologies are needed to not only support ever-expanding capacities, but ultimately help our customers analyze and garner insights into our increasingly connected universe of data," said Mike Cordano, president and chief operating officer at Western Digital. "Our ground-breaking advancement in MAMR technology will enable Western Digital to address the future of high capacity storage by redefining the density potential of HDDs and introduce a new class of highly reliable, 'ultra-high capacity' drives. We have a proven track record for identifying, investing in and delivering advanced technologies that create new product categories and enable the world to realize the possibilities of data. Five years ago we introduced our HelioSeal, helium-filled drive technology. Since then, we have shipped more than 20 million helium drives. That type of leadership and innovation continues today and we aim to leverage it well into the future."
MAMR is one of two energy-assisted technologies that Western Digital has been developing for years. The company recently innovated a breakthrough in material and process that provides the required reliable and predictable performance, as well as the manufacturability to accelerate areal density and cost improvements to an estimated average of 15 percent per year. Developments in the other energy-assisted technology, specifically, heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), present new material science and reliability challenges that are not a factor in MAMR. Only MAMR demonstrates the reliability and cost profile that meets the demands of data center operators.

At the heart of the company's innovation breakthrough is the "spin torque oscillator" used to generate a microwave field that increases the ability to record data at ultra-high density without sacrificing reliability. Western Digital's innovative MAMR technology is expected to offer over 4 terabits-per-square-inch over time. With sustained improvements in recording density, MAMR promises to enable hard drives with 40TB of capacity and beyond by 2025, and continued expansion beyond that timeframe.

"Western Digital's demonstration of MAMR technology is a significant breakthrough for the hard disk drive industry," said John Rydning, research vice president, Hard Disk Drives, IDC. "Commercialization of MAMR technology will pave the way to higher recording densities, and lower cost per terabyte hard disk drives for enterprise datacenters, video surveillance systems, and consumer NAS products."

Western Digital's MAMR technology is the latest innovation to significantly improve areal densities. It builds upon a number of other leading innovations from the company. In addition to HelioSeal helium-filled drive technology, MAMR also builds upon the company's micro actuation and recording head manufacturing technologies. Western Digital's advanced micro actuation technology for data center applications enables hard drives to accurately and reliably position magnetic heads for writing and reading at ultra-high densities. The company's head manufacturing operations are the only internal supplier to utilize Damascene processing to manufacture heads with the precise tolerances and complex structures required for reliable and cost-effective recording at ultra-high densities. The Damascene process also provides the capability to embed the spin torque oscillator that enables the manufacturing of MAMR heads. The combination of these technologies deliver superior total cost of ownership (TCO) across all sizes of cloud and enterprise data centers.

The demonstration of Western Digital's MAMR technology is the latest achievement in decades of HDD leadership from the company, including over 7,000 issued patents in HDD technology, on-going helium-enabled HDD technology advancements - as highlighted by the recent introduction of the world's first host-managed shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology enterprise-class 14TB hard drive - and a long history of world's firsts in multi-disk design.
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24 Comments on Western Digital Announces Magnetic Storage Breakthrough Enabling 40TB HDDs

#1
RejZoR
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
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#2
gmn 17
RejZoR said:
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
Well the latest seagate 12tb drives are 250mbps which is double what they used to be
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#3
RejZoR
Yeah, but that's still half of what SSD's do and access times (latency) hasn't really changed much.
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#4
Prima.Vera
RejZoR said:
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
Not entirely true. The bigger the drive, the higher the transfer rates for unfragmented data, since a lot of data can be read/written at once.

Also, this drive is not the biggest. Actually the honor is, ironically, hold by an SSD, the 128TB SSD drive from Samsung (https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/08/09/samsungs_128tb_ssd_bombshell/)
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#5
Dragonsmonk
RejZoR said:
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
That does not make financial sense though - you have SSD's, which have much quicker access times and thus can either be used as cache or OS drives. HDD's will always be better in data storage though. Thus they are increasing the size of them.

Even though I don't even want to think about the re-building time of a raid if one of those drives fails.
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#6
Prima.Vera
Dragonsmonk said:

Even though I don't even want to think about the re-building time of a raid if one of those drives fails.
Neh, nobody cares. You have 20 of those drives in a storage rack, nobody cares if it takes even a day. ;)
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#7
Dragonsmonk
Prima.Vera said:
Neh, nobody cares. You have 20 of those drives in a storage rack, nobody cares if it takes even a day. ;)
I think you're looking at 2 - 3 days rebuilding time and many do care, due to fact that, depending on raid, their raid might fail if another or 2 more drives fail in that time. Considering that rebuilding a raid is stress on the drives.
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#8
RejZoR
Prima.Vera said:
Neh, nobody cares. You have 20 of those drives in a storage rack, nobody cares if it takes even a day. ;)
When you have such storage rack, you basically just swap the drives as they fail. There is no on-demand backing up and restoring of data, you're already suppose to use double redundancy at such capacities with higher RAID modes.
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#9
InVasMani
Higher storage density though should at least make it better for short stroking on the plus side.
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#11
StrayKAT
If only they could innovate this well in the SSD arena (and have their own fabrication abilities... rather than get screwed by partners). WD was my first large storage drive (a whopping 400MB). I'd hate to see them lose out to the likes of Samsung. It's not a name I like associating with PCs.
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#12
gmn 17
At least when we’ll hit petabytes they’ll be our pets
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#13
Mirkoskji
RejZoR said:
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
The most beneficial advantage of SSDs is random access performance, which is measured in iops.
iops are basically how many accesses the drive can make in a certain amount of time. SSDs can access multiple nand cells at the same time, so even with random operations you have high performances.
On the other side a mechanical hard drive has only a head reading/writing on the surface of the spinning disk. that head can make only a limited amount of movements, which translate to really poor performance in random access. As I understand these new technologies are a sort of multi-layer writing/reading technique, so I think a possible solution could be to write files in a stacked fashon, and read them with a single head movement. that could accelerate random access also in HDD
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#14
gmn 17
With some pc titles getting to be 100GB plus sizes installed we need all the storage space we can get
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#15
Steevo
RejZoR said:
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
Density has a direct impact on read and write performance, the faster the disk spins as well, I just hope they are able to incorporate this with 7200 or 10K speeds. If they are truly quadrupling the density at the same spin rate it should allow for quadrupling the data read and write.
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#16
OSdevr
RejZoR said:
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
I think it's rather amazing that they have the access times that they do. You're talking about moving a mechanical arm to a track some nanometers wide in a matter of milliseconds! And as those tracks get thinner (larger drives) that gets more difficult.

Steevo said:
Density has a direct impact on read and write performance, the faster the disk spins as well, I just hope they are able to incorporate this with 7200 or 10K speeds. If they are truly quadrupling the density at the same spin rate it should allow for quadrupling the data read and write.
Bandwidth != Latency
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#17
trparky
Great, so when the drive dies I'll be crying for a week as versus just a day with a 4 TB drive.
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#18
rtwjunkie
PC Gaming Enthusiast
trparky said:
Great, so when the drive dies I'll be crying for a week as versus just a day with a 4 TB drive.
:laugh: Nope, because it will be backed up to another 40TB drive. :)
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#19
InVasMani
gmn 17 said:
At least when we’ll hit petabytes they’ll be our pets
According to Scientific American, a cat’s brain has 1,000 times more “data storage” than an iPad, and operates a million times faster!
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#20
StrayKAT
InVasMani said:
According to Scientific American, a cat’s brain has 1,000 times more “data storage” than an iPad, and operates a million times faster!
They are also the true rulers of the computer world... in their own way.
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#21
InVasMani
by that I presume you mean Ethernet lol
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#22
StrayKAT
InVasMani said:
by that I presume you mean Ethernet lol
No, no.. The ruler of Memes. The only worthwhile use of the internet. :D

Well, outside pr0n.
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#23
InVasMani
I don't want to think how many petabytes that is of cat memes
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#24
lexluthermiester
RejZoR said:
I wish someone made a breakthrough that would allow mechanical drives dramatically improved speeds and access times. Coz that would be really nice. I'm talking getting them to the level of cheapest SSD's or close to that. I know there are physical limitations, but still, all we see is platter density and that's it. No one is really investing into how this density is accessed and if there is a different, faster way...
Actually, we're not far from that. There is prototyping going on in which a spinning disc type drive is being accessed using a quad-head system. So instead of one single read/write head, four are used. This means that the drive controller can multi-task. The current test methodologies show sequential read/write speeds of 240MB per second and 170MB per second random. This is on 15,000rpm spindles. Combine this with WD's new hotness and good grief is the future bright for storage.
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