Innovations

Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR)

The next generation of enterprise hard drive capacity.

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What is HAMR?

As the Data Age emerges, the insatiable hunger for greater storage capacity accelerates at an astronomical rate. The capacity of hard drives needs to continue increasing to meet the demands of data growth. Our advanced engineering team has developed HAMR (Heat-Assisted Magnetic Recording) as the next major step to enable higher-capacity hard drives.

To increase hard drive capacity, engineers try to fit more data bits, or “grains,” onto each disk platter—they increase the density of bits crammed into each square inch of surface space. More bits on a disk means more data can be stored.

But when bit density is increased, the grains are closer together — so close that the magnetism of each grain can affect the magnetic direction of the grains near it. The stability of each grain at normal temperatures (“thermal stability”) becomes a problem; the only way to fix that is to manufacture the disk platter using new materials that make grains more thermally stable, so the grains will not influence each other.

This solution works—it makes each bit very stable even at room temperature—but it introduces a second problem: how do you force a very stable bit to change its magnetic direction when you want it to? How do you write new data onto the hard drive, if the grains are thermally very stable?

HAMR technology solves both these problems. HAMR uses a new kind of media magnetic technology on each disk that allows data bits to become smaller and more densely packed than ever, while remaining magnetically and thermally stable. Then, to write new data, a small laser diode attached to each recording head momentarily heats a tiny spot on the disk, which enables the recording head to flip the magnetic polarity of a single bit at a time, enabling data to be written. Each bit is heated and cools down in a nanosecond, so the HAMR laser has no impact at all on drive temperature, or on the temperature, stability, or reliability of the media overall.

According to the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium (ASTC), HAMR is the next significant storage technology innovation to increase the amount of data storage in the area available to store data—known as the disk’s “areal density.” This boost in areal density will help fuel hard drive product development and growth through the next decade.

Meet the Demands of Data Growth

See the technological advances Seagate accomplished to bring HAMR to life.

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