HAMR Milestone: Seagate Achieves 16TB Capacity on Internal HAMR Test Units

  • Seagate HAMR technology innovation

December 2, 2018

Achieving another major milestone toward volume shipments of its pioneering HAMR (heat-assisted magnetic recording) technology, Seagate announced it has used its advanced HAMR technology to build and test the world’s first formatted and fully functioning 16TB enterprise hard drive platform in a standard 3.5-inch form factor — the highest capacity hard drives ever produced. These units are internal test units only and will not be brought to market in this configuration; by incorporating Seagate’s advanced HAMR technology into drives that function exactly like production drives, they’ve served to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technology for our future-generation hard drives. Seagate is on track to grow our HAMR technology beyond 20TB per drive in calendar 2020.

Seagate is using this 16TB pre-release version of its HAMR-based hard drive to run the tests customers commonly use when integrating hard drives into enterprise applications. The successful tests have confirmed the HAMR drives are plug-and-play and operate just as any other hard drive in standard enterprise application environments. No architectural changes are needed to integrate HAMR drives into current data centers and systems. Customers simply plug the drives in as with any other enterprise hard drive.

In today’s dawning Data Age — in which IDC reports that our increasingly digital world created, captured, replicated and consumed 33 zettabytes of digital data in 2018 alone, and this is expected to balloon to 175 zettabytes by the year 2025 — the hunger for greater storage capacity continues to accelerate, as data capture and creation at the edge proliferates, and rapidly-evolving Artificial Intelligence applications demand access to ever-larger datasets to extract crucial learnings. Affordable, deployable storage capacity enables the digitization of the world.

Seagate has developed HAMR to enable the next big increase in the amount of data that can be stored on a hard drive.

HAMR uses a new kind of media magnetic technology on each disk that allows data bits, or grains, to become smaller and more densely packed than ever, while remaining magnetically stable. A small laser diode attached to each recording head heats a tiny spot on the disk, which enables the recording head to flip the magnetic polarity of each very stable bit, enabling data to be written. Seagate’s proprietary execution of HAMR technology will be delivered in the industry’s standard form factor, thus reducing total cost of ownership by getting a lot more terabytes (TB) into the same space as a conventional hard drive.

Demo shows that HAMR drives will be plug-and-play, operate like conventional drives in standard integration benchmark tests

“Seagate has begun running early HAMR units, configured just as a production unit would be, through the full set of standard benchmark tests used to prepare and optimize each new hard drive product for deployment,” says Jason Feist, Seagate’s senior director of enterprise product line management. “Our testing has demonstrated the drives’ compatibility for enterprise systems that are being used today. No system level changes are needed to run the HAMR drives in these evaluations, or to deploy them in customer environments.”

“These HAMR drives run like all other drives in a standard suite of integration benchmarks. At this point in early testing, they’re meeting our expectations for how a drive should interact in each benchmark,” Feist explains. “These are the same tests that customers use to qualify every new drive, including power efficiency tests, sg3_utils utilities that test SCSI commands to devices, standard smartmontools utility programs that will enable customers to characterize and compare HAMR drives in their environment right next to PMR drives, and several four-corners tests of reads, writes, random, sequential and mixed workloads.”

These new product-level HAMR tests provide further weight to the groundbreaking results from last year’s in-lab reliability tests. In those tests Seagate HAMR read/write heads far exceeded industry standards for reliability and lifetime data transfer capability, surpassing customer requirements and standard hard drive specifications by a factor of 20. Combined with HAMR’s plug-and-play compatibility with standard systems, the results have further cemented customers’ confidence in HAMR’s readiness to launch into standard cloud and IT environments.

“The HAMR technology we demo’ed last year is now being fully integrated into Seagate’s industry-leading high-capacity enterprise product portfolio,” says Feist. “We continue on track to deliver the future generations of Seagate hard drives equipped with HAMR to achieve industry-leading areal density and capacity.”


About the Author:

John Paulsen
John Paulsen is a "Data for Good" advocate, with nearly 20 years in the data storage industry. He's helped launch many industry-firsts including HAMR technology, 10K-rpm and 15K-rpm hard drives, drives designed specifically for video and for gaming, Serial ATA drives, fluid dynamic HDD motors, 60TB SSDs, and MACH.2 multi-actuator technology.