Seagate Demos HAMR - Mark Re (center) with Seagate team at InterMag Conference in Beijing
Seagate Demos HAMR – Mark Re (center) with Seagate team at InterMag Conference in Beijing

Magnetics — and their continuing advancement — are crucial building blocks for our industry. That’s why you’ll see Seagate, along with many of our global competitors, suppliers, customers and academic researchers, in full force each year at the IEEE International Magnetics Conference (or “InterMag” as it’s known for short).

This conference is the world’s top gathering for applied magnetic and information storage technologies. Among the companies attending were Intel, TDK, Showa Denko, Samsung, Fujitsu, IBM and Toshiba.

For the first time in its 52-year history, InterMag was held in China. That’s significant on a number of levels; China is the world’s second largest economy and it accounts for a growing portion of the world’s hard drive sales. According to Seagate market research, China will account for 126 million HDD units by 2020, up from 115 million in 2015. Also, the compass — one of the most recognized magnetic devices in the world — was invented in China more than 2,000 years ago.

Seagate’s own Kaizhong Gao, a principal engineer at our R&D facility in Shakopee, co-chaired this year’s InterMag conference, which was held last month in Beijing. Several papers were presented by Seagate engineers and technologists, updating our progress in many areas including heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) and bit-patterned media (BPM) technologies.

Extending Areal Density Curve

We also discussed new technologies to extend the areal-density growth curve and improve the performance and reliability of storage products. Today’s current hard drive technology, perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), will eventually run out of steam at about 1 terabit-per-square inch. HAMR should take us up to about 5Tb/square inch.

We also presented a paper at InterMag that discussed a new technology called “heated-dot magnetic recording,” or HDMR, that should take us up to 10 Tb/square inch. HDMR essentially combines the techniques used in HAMR with bit-patterned media.

We did much more than just talk about our new recording technologies, however.

A big highlight was a demonstration of our Business Storage 8-Bay Rackmount NAS , which was loaded with eight HAMR drives in a RAID configuration. Using this HAMR-powered system, we ran a mixture of videos, and also recorded a live camera stream. The system worked perfectly, it ran continuously for three days, and was another powerful milestone in our journey to ship HAMR drives to select customers by 2017, with full production in 2018.

We also showcased a server equipped with several of our Kinetic HDDs for scale-out object storage. Both demos drew big crowds.

Research Collaboration

In addition to product demos, we also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with one of China’s leading universities and met with one of the country’s top officials, Vice Premier Liu Yandong. Our MOU with Tsinghua University — the top engineering school in China — focuses on long-term collaborative storage research.

Liu — herself a graduate of Tsinghua University, with a degree in chemical engineering — spoke about China’s technology directions and efforts to stimulate economic growth; recently, the government announced an ambitious plan to spend $182 billion to boost Internet speeds by 2017. That’s certainly good news for Seagate, because as more people in China are connected to the Internet, using high-speed 4G mobile networks and fiber-optic broadband, more and more data will be generated — which in turn should spur increased demand for storage products.

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