Huawei developing magneto-electric drive for cold storage

As we wrote in a storage news ticker, Huawei has announced that it has an OceanStor Arctic device for storing archive data.

A presentation at MWC24 in Barcelona by Huawei’s Dr Peter Zhou, president of the data storage product lines, introduced this coming product. He told the audience that it can reduce total connection cost by 20 percent compared to tape, and power consumption by 90 percent compared to hard drives. We were intrigued and asked Huawei for more information.

Now Huawei’s China HQ has added some more meat to the bones. A spokesperson told us:

“Huawei’s MED (magneto-electric disk) brings brand-new innovation against magnetic media. The first generation of MED will be as a big capacity disk. The rack capacity will be more than 10 PB and power consumption less than 2 KW. For the first generation of MED,  we will position it mainly for archival storage. It will be released overseas about 2025H1.”

There is no existing MED storage product from any supplier we are aware of. This is brand-new technology. The fact that it is a disk – Huawei did not say “drive” – means it most likely spins and has tracks and a read-write head. We do not know its size, meaning it would not necessarily employ the same 3.5-inch form factor as current nearline storage drives from Seagate, Toshiba, and Western Digital. Indeed, Western Digital once floated the idea of an archival disk drive in a larger-than-3.5-inch form factor.

The magneto-electric effect refers to a linkage between the magnetic and the electric properties of a material. A scientific paper entitled “Electrical control of magnetism by electric field and current-induced torques” reviews discoveries and approaches in the field, and the authors “present various families of devices harnessing the electrical control of magnetic properties for various application fields.”

These include the MESO (magneto-electric spin-orbit) field. “MESO is expected to strongly reduce power consumption for computation by harnessing ferroic materials that have embedded non-volatility and by relying on a voltage rather than a current to switch the ferroic order parameter.”

We know that MRAM (magnetic RAM) products exist and these are solid state devices with binary signals stored in cells, not in tracks on a disk. That implies MED does not use MRAM technology.