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Cloud Computing? 10-60TB Hard Drives Coming to Tablets, Notebooks, Desktops by 2016

Seagate HAMR Drive Technology

Several days ago, IHS iSuppli released a report on storage market and technologies called “HDD Industry Enjoys Best Performance despite Volume Fluctuation”.

In this report, the analyst firm IHS iSuppli confirms what Seagate and Western Digital already stated – doubling of drive density and increase in operating speeds. The way to achieve such density is – heat. Even though heat is an unwanted side-effect with semiconductor products such as CPUs, GPUs, APUs, SoCs and the like, technology called HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording) is finally coming to production.

We heard about HAMR as a research paper back in 2002-2003 timeframe, with Seagate Technologies patenting the technology six years ago, in 2006. Personally, I remember a scientist that was discussing how laser-guided magnetic heads will enable densities of 1-5TB, which the hard drive industry achieved all on its own. For that key step forward, and going from current 1-4TB capacity to 10x more, we will need HAMR.

According to the report, areal densities will double by 2016. Currently, we have up to 744 Gbps per square inch (notebook drives), while HAMR should drive that all the way to 1,800 Gpbs per square inch. The mid-step between 744 and 1,800 will be the 900Gbps – which is expected to become a reality during 2013. This is also the final step before heat-assisted, i.e. laser-guided technology becomes available.

In 2016, notebook and tablet form factor should offer 10-20tB, while the large-scale 3.5” desktop drives should reach 60tB. The question remains – is it really feasible to expect a 15x capacity increase in only four years from now?

The bad news is speeds will not increase significantly, thus it will take ages to fill them. Large SSD backed cache should help with reads though.

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