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Seagate: We'll bring down the HAMR in 2017. But will we give you shingles?

All the problems really are nails, it's not just us honest

Seagate has been talking about coming disk tech and expects to have a HAMR product in 2017.

We have better visibility into Seagate’s view of the ending of the current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) era. The ending is delayed by narrowing the tracks so as to cram more of them on a platter. This is called two-dimensional magnetic recording (TDMR) - background here - and should arrive in 2016.

The company was talking at an investor conference and we heard about it from Stifel Nicolaus MD Aaron Rakers. TDMR will support areal densities of 1.6Tbits/in2, 15 per cent more than PMR alone; not a lot but it will fill the gap before heat-assisted magnetic recording arrives in products in the 2017/2018 period. Areal density is then expected to go up to 5Tbit/in2 eventually. Now that is a super big jump.

The first HAMR product integration could start in the second half of 2016.

Current PMR areal densities are in the 550-750Gbit/in2 area. Say we have one more PMR Generation taking us up to 850/900Gbit/in2. Then along comes TDM with a 15 per cent boost which would take us to just over 1Tbit/in2, not 1.6Tbit/in2 unless something else is going on to boost capacity, like a shingled TDMR drive?.

How might the timing work?

  • End 2014: PMR - 550-750Gbit/in2
  • 2015: PMR boosted to 850/900Gbit/in2
  • 2015: Shingled PMR at 1Tbit/in2
  • 2016: TDMR gen 1 at 1Tbit/in2?
  • 2016: Shingled TDMR at, say, 1.3Tbit/in2
  • 2017: first HAMR at, say, 2Tbit/in2?

Some questions are whether we will see shingled TDMR, with overlapping tracks boosting capacity, and will we see TDM HAMR or will HAMR have normal width tracks? Adding a laser to the read/write head is complex enough – adding TDM as well might be a step too far at first.

Eventually we could see shingled HAMR driving capacities even higher. ®

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