Seagate has promised to show off a new generation of spinning-rust hard drives, using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology to vastly increase storage capacity over today's models.
Seagate is to show off its HAMR-based high-density hard drives at Ceatec later this week, and promises to launch 20TB hard drives by 2020.
HAMR, as the name suggests, is an enhancement to traditional magnetic storage systems whereby the area to be magnetically flipped is first heated with a small laser. This heating bypasses a phenomenon known as the superparamagnetic effect, in which sufficiently small magnetic particles - such as you might find in a high-density magnetic storage system - will spontaneously flip state, causing your carefully-stored data to be rendered insensible.
As a means of continuing the density boosting of magnetic storage, HAMR is promising - but the technology has been a long time coming: the first patent describing a prototype HAMR system was filed back in 1954, but it wasn't until the 1980s that so-called magneto-optical drives which utilised the process hit the market - only to be quickly superseded by optically-writable CD-Rs in short order.
Seagate has been showing interest in HAMR technology for some time. Back in March last year the company announced a prototype HAMR drive
which boasted an areal density of 1Tb per square inch, some 55 per cent higher than the best traditional non-HAMR prototypes. At the time, the company promised the breakthrough would lead to desktop drives of up to 6TB in the first models while quickly scaling up to drives as large as 60TB by the time HAMR reaches its own theoretical limits.
Now, the company is promising public demonstrations of the technology for the first time. Taking its prototype out of the lab, Seagate is to attend the Ceatec 2013 trade show later this week and show off the capabilities of the system ahead of a planned launch of HAMR-based 2.5" 10K RPM hard drives for the enterprise market in the near future.
'The world is generating an astronomical amount of data annually and that data needs to be stored,
' claimed Mark Re, Seagate's chief technology officer, at the announcement. 'We are approaching the limits of today's recording technology and with HAMR technology, Seagate is on track to continue to increase areal density delivering hard drives with the lowest cost per gigabyte and reaching capacities of 20TB by 2020.
Sadly, Seagate has yet to offer pricing or availability for its enterprise-grade HAMR drives, much less consumer-oriented 3.5" units for those who find themselves growing short of storage space on traditional media.