Showa Denko K.K. (SDK) has unveiled the the company has finished the development of its next-generation heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) media for hard drives. The platters use all-new magnetic thin films with a very small crystal grain size in order to maximize their areal density, with the goal of eventually enabling 3.5-inch HDDs to be built with capacities of 70 TB to 80 TB.

SDK’s platters for HAMR HDDs use glass substrate and feature thin film magnetic layer made of an Fe-Pt alloy. To improve the magnetic coercivity of the media by several times over existing platters, Showa Denko used a new structure of magnetic layers and implemented new ways of controlling the temperature of the media during production.

UPDATE 2/21: As it turns out, Showa Denko will use glass substrates for platters designed for HAMD hard drives because of their superior heat resistance.

Driving these developments, it's critical to maximize the magnetic coercivity of next generation HDD platters because the crystal grains used to record data are getting extremely small. This has made them very easy to magnetize, but it has also reduced the strength of the individual magnetic signatures, which creates an unwanted magnetic inter-track interference (ITI) effect that makes it harder for HDD heads to read the data. Platters with high magnetic coercivity require energy assistance during writing and this is what energy assisted magnetic recording technologies (HAMR, MAMR, ePMR, etc.) are all about. Meanwhile, the platters must survive extreme temperatures they are subjected to during heat-assisted recording. According to Showa Denko, its new HAMR platters offer the industry’s highest read-write characteristics and durability.

Transmission Electron Microscopy Images of HAMR Media


Plain View                                                          Cross Section

SDK is not disclosing the recording density of its new platters nor are they making specific promises about when it intends to start mass production of next-generation disks. Meanwhile, the company notes that today’s leading-edge conventional magnetic recording (CMR) platters feature recording density of about 1.14 Tb/in2 and it is widely believed that this is not going to grow significantly without using energy assisted recording methods. By contrast, Showa Denko believes, HAMR-based media will achieve areal density of 5-6 Tb/in2 in the future, which will increase capacity of hard drives by several times, all the way to 70 TB – 80 TB per 3.5-inch drive without increasing the number of platters. For comparison's sake, today’s 16 TB CMR (PMR+TDMR) HDDs use nine disks, so increasing their density by ~5.2X would enable drives featuring capacities higher than 80 TB.

Showa Denko is the world’s largest independent maker of platters for hard drives, selling media to all of the HDD producers. That said, the large manufacturers — Seagate and Western Digital — also produce media themselves and tend to use their own leading-edge platters to cut costs and maximize product margins. So it will be interesting to see which of three remaining hard drive makers will be the first to use HAMR platters from Showa Denko.

Seagate will be the first company to adopt HAMR for commercial 20 TB drives in late 2020, but since Showa Denko now only plans to ‘make preparations for full-scale supply of the new HD media’, it is likely that the first HAMR drives will use Seagate’s own platters. Toshiba is expected to use Showa Denko’s 2 TB MAMR platters for its 18 TB HDDs that are projected to arrive later this year, but in the longer terms it will switch to HAMR (we have no idea when). By contrast, Western Digital uses its so-called energy-assisted PMR (ePMR) technology for its 18 TB and 20 TB HDDs due this year and will gradually move to MAMR and HAMR in the years to come.

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Source: Showa Denko

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  • olde94 - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Most laptops sold over the last few years all had 256 GB ssd's. When we changed from HDD to SSD the capacity droped for a while so i'd say the 256 or 512 have been the norm the last decade. Having more than 500gb in a laptop in 2009 was not common and running hdd only after 2015 was rare too.
  • umano - Thursday, February 13, 2020 - link

    That was the fun playing with autoexec.bat and config.sys. If I remember correctly to play Tie fighter the requirement were 615kb free :)
  • lazarpandar - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - link

    wildly misused quote
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - link

    "wildly misused quote"

    so he says. but it is true that using a PC for internet surfing and email and word processing doesn't require much more.
  • B3an - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - link

    You're not using a past tense... So i'm assuming you mean in todays age, but surely a human can't be this stupid? Even if your ignore the browser and OS memory/disk usage, then the AnandTech home page alone is probably over 640KB.
  • HardwareDufus - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - link

    It is. I do wonderful things with the Arduino Due, a 32bit Arm microcontroller with 512kb of storage and 96kb of sram. even run touch screen apps at 800X480... all bear metal c, c++ programming
  • HardwareDufus - Thursday, February 6, 2020 - link

    ooopps that's bare metal
  • Valantar - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Bear Metal sounds like my new favourite music genre.
  • yetanotherhuman - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    Actually, they're not totally full of shit. If you're using traditional RAID, the rebuild times spike so high that the chance you hit an error when rebuilding is far too great.
  • damianrobertjones - Friday, February 7, 2020 - link

    You need to read the entire statement, about 640k, and take it in context.

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