An announcement by Showa Denko (SDK) has unveiled a plan by Toshiba to begin shipping 18TB mechanical hard drives by the end of the year, albeit in sample quantities only, through microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR).

In a press release, first spotted by Anandtech, SDK announced that it has begun shipping platters to Toshiba for an upcoming near-line mechanical hard drive with a whopping 2TB capacity per aluminium-substrate platter for an 18TB overall drive capacity - which would handily see Toshiba leapfrog competitor Seagate's 16TB heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) drive.

The move is a shift for Toshiba, however: Earlier this year the company unveiled a 16TB drive based on conventional magnetic recording (CMR), boosting capacity by switching the air inside the drive out for helium to reduce drag and improve heat transfer. Its latest design, assisted by SDK, would see the capacity increased by switching from CMR to microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR), which uses microwaves to heat the platter before attempting to toggle a magnetic bit in order to improve stability and increase areal density.

While Toshiba hasn't said much about its plans, SDK claims the company will be shipping sample quantities of the resulting 3.5" drives by the end of the year. If so, commercialisation is likely some time in early to mid 2020 - a timescale that could see Toshiba pipped to the post by rival Western Digital, which pledged to launch 18TB MAMR drives by the end of this year.

Pricing for the drive has not been disclosed.

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