Monday, January 10th 2022

Toshiba Demonstrates Substantial Improvements in HDD Recording Performance with MAS-MAMR

Toshiba Group has announced the world's first demonstration of HDD recording performance improvement with Microwave Assisted Switching-Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording (MAS-MAMR), a next-generation magnetic recording technology. The demonstration confirms that the technology delivers substantial storage capacity gains, and Toshiba now aims to realize early commercialization of nearline HDDs with capacities exceeding 30 TB.

Toshiba is placing considerable R&D effort on MAMR, a breakthrough technology that boosts HDD recording density. In 2021, the company started shipment of 18 TB HDDs that apply Flux Control MAMR (FC-MAMR ), which uses spin torque oscillators to assist recording. MAS-MAMR is expected to improve recording density beyond that of FC-MAMR by locally exposing microwave to -recording media. However, this was not shown to be possible in practice until the recent demonstration.
Toward proving the fundamental superiority of MAS-MAMR, Toshiba has been promoting its development with Showa Denko K.K. (SDK), an HDD medium manufacturer, and TDK Corporation (TDK), a HDD head manufacturer. This three-way cooperation recently bore fruit in the demonstration of MAS-MAMR's improved recording performance.

Toshiba will announce details of the newly developed spin torque oscillator and its oscillation characteristics at the Joint MMM-INTERMAG Conference 2022, an international conference scheduled on January 10-14, 2022.

Development Background
Digital data storage on data centers is a pillar of the modern information infrastructure supporting digitalization and digital transformation, and is now more important than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing storage demand is on explosive pace, and the market for high-capacity nearline HDDs, the workhorses of both cloud-scale and traditional data centers, is expected to grow to US$ 17.5 billion in 2025. This evolving needs for storage devices are also fueling demand for further capacity increases in HDDs.

Any attempt to increase the recording density of an HDD must reconcile a trilemma of three conflicting goals: miniaturize the magnetic grains on the recording medium; realize thermally stable magnetic grains; and secure sufficient recording performance. The recording medium is coated with a layer of fine magnetic grains that retain information according to the direction of their magnetization. While recording density could be improved by miniaturization of the recording bit on the recording media, this requires even smaller magnetic grains, which reduces thermal stability of their magnetization. Loss of thermal stability may result in data losses.

Increasing thermal stability on increasing recording density requires a material with a higher "coercivity" that can maintain the magnetization. However, a higher coercivity makes it difficult for the recording head to generate the sufficient magnetic field for recording. Overcoming this requires next-generation magnetic recording technology in which recording is assisted by external energy.

Advances are being made in R&D of a next-generation magnetic recording technology to overcome this trilemma. While MAS-MAMR to assist using microwaves is expected to improve the recording density drastically in theory, the confirmation of microwave-assisted switching effect (MAS-MAMR effect) on recording condition and improved recording performance with MAS-MAMR have not yet been demonstrated.

Features of the Technology
Toshiba has invented a "bi-oscillation type spin torque oscillator device (dual FGL STO)" that irradiates microwaves by a two-layer field generating layer. The "dual FGL STO" generates microwaves efficiently, with less current and on focused spots. Incorporated into a recording head, it can improve recording performance with MAS-MAMR.

In the work to demonstrate MAS-MAMR, TDK has developed new recording heads equipped with the STO, SDK has developed new recording media, and Toshiba has confirmed stable oscillation of STOs in the new recording heads.

Subsequently, Toshiba confirmed the MAS-MAMR effect by combining the newly developed STOs, recording heads and media, and for the first time in the world demonstrated an approximately 6dB improvement in recording performance with MAS-MAMR. This technology makes it possible to realize HDDs with large capacity of over 30 TB. By the demonstration, MAS-MAMR has taken a major step forward as a practical next-generation magnetic recording technology that can significantly improve recording density.

Future prospects
Toshiba now aims to realize early commercialization of nearline HDDs with capacities exceeding 30 TB with MAS-MAMR technology. The company will continue to develop MAMR technologies (FC-MAMR and MAS-MAMR) and to expand the capacity of nearline HDDs. Toshiba will also continue to develop the Thermal Assisted Magnetic Recording (TAMR) technology in parallel, to meet a wide range of storage needs.
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16 Comments on Toshiba Demonstrates Substantial Improvements in HDD Recording Performance with MAS-MAMR

#1
TheLostSwede
So does that mean all the anti WiFi/5G people won't be getting one of these?
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#2
Crackong
Can we just ban SMR already ?
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#3
stimpy88
So it seems that every time we get another 2TB of storage space, we need a new way of recording that data... This is not going to end well!
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#5
Chomiq
MyTechAddictionCan anyone actually explain what this means ?
Toshiba now aims to realize early commercialization of nearline HDDs with capacities exceeding 30 TB with MAS-MAMR technology
Bigger drives available soon.
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#6
Tomorrow
ChomiqBigger drives available soon.
Im not that optimistic. Despite lofty promises the current cadence has been pretty steady at +2TB evary 2 years. Meaning that 30TB wont be achieved before 2030.
Unless a breaktrough really happens that adds 10TB to existing 20TB drives right away.
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#7
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
CrackongCan we just ban SMR already ?
It's not a bad tech for low-priority applications like cold-storage, JBOD, surveillance, etc., as long as it helps keep drive costs low.
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#8
GLeader
that graph though ... :wtf:
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#9
Tomorrow
btarunrIt's not a bad tech for low-priority applications like cold-storage, JBOD, surveillance, etc., as long as it helps keep drive costs low.
Except it does not cost less. I see SMR drives costing about the same as their CMR counterparts. Current flagships are 20TB using CMR. So there is no capacity benefit there either. The situation is somewhat similar to TLC vs QLC where QLC should supposedly offer cost and capacity benefit but in reality it's only slightly cheaper with worse endurance and cheaper mostly because people avoid it like they avoid SMR on HDD's.

I mean i managed to use 1% of my TLC SSD's lifespan just by testing it after the first install. With QLC that percentage would have been higher no doubt.
HDD's are slow enough. I see little reason to make them slower with SMR. Not when there are other methods to expand capacity or improve performance like adding more platters or a second actuator.
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#10
DeathtoGnomes
ChomiqBigger drives available soon.
I'd like to see large (TB+) capacity HDDs in 2.5 sizes
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#11
lexluthermiester
CrackongCan we just ban SMR already ?
Wait what? Where did you read SMR? Shingled Magnetic Recording is not what Toshiba is working on here..
stimpy88So it seems that every time we get another 2TB of storage space, we need a new way of recording that data... This is not going to end well!
Perhaps you're missing the point? From 18GB to 30GB is a substantial bump..
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#12
R-T-B
CrackongCan we just ban SMR already ?
This has nothing to do with SMR.
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#13
Prima.Vera
Hopefully the $/GB price will also go down significantly. For some reason the HDD prices are going up with ridiculous prices for the higher capacities.
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#14
stimpy88
lexluthermiesterPerhaps you're missing the point? From 18GB to 30GB is a substantial bump..
I think this is the 2nd or 3rd major enhancement or new tech in HDDs ever since 12TB drives were brought out, is it not? And we have been promised the old line "this will enable 20TB+ HDDs" twice already now...
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#15
DeathtoGnomes
Prima.VeraHopefully the $/GB price will also go down significantly.
pretty soon we'll be measuring with $/TB.
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#16
lexluthermiester
stimpy88I think this is the 2nd or 3rd major enhancement or new tech in HDDs ever since 12TB drives were brought out, is it not?
I don't know that "major" would be the right word, but yes there have been advances.
stimpy88And we have been promised the old line "this will enable 20TB+ HDDs" twice already now...
Perhaps, but not all by the same company.
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