updated 01:55 pm EDT, Mon March 19, 2012
Seagate HAMR to surge drive storage in years
Seagate on Monday outlined a new technology that promised very high storage density. Heat-assisted magnetic recording, or HAMR, would be just the third major rotating hard drive technique in the market and even in its first generation would lead to one terabit per square inch, a 55 percent boost over today's 620 gigabits per inch. While shy on what HAMR entailed, it noted the technique was delivering performance that had previously been thought "impossible."
The method was expected to deliver clear benefits once ready and scale up over time. Initial versions at the 1Tb density would lead to 2TB notebook drives and 6TB desktop drives. As it scaled, it would add five to ten times the capacity over time, culminating in 10-20TB notebook disks and 30-60TB in desktop form.
Seagate was deliberately conservative in its expectations. It promised that HAMR would first show up "later this decade" and that its current foreseen peak would happen within ten years of that point.
The introductions will reflect a race from traditional hard drive designers to keep ahead of solid-state drives. SSDs are currently expensive, but they have historically doubled in capacity with each significant leap and may catch up to rotating drives in the next few years as capacities increase and prices come down.