Toshiba demos 32 TB HAMR and 31 TB MAMR disk drives

Toshiba has demonstrated 30 TB-plus shingled disk drives using both heat-assisted and microwave-assisted recording technologies.

Currently, Toshiba’s highest-capacity drives use MAMR (microwave-assisted magnetic recording) similar to Western Digital, and reach 22 TB capacity with conventional, non-shingled recording. Shingled recording overlaps the relatively wide write tracks to increase capacity, while enabling the narrower read tracks to still be read. The downside is slower performance to rewrite data.

Heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), like MAMR, overcomes the room temperature resistance of a small-bit supporting recording medium to change its data values by using a laser to heat the bit area. Only Seagate is currently making HAMR drives and getting its Mozaic 30 TB conventional and 32 TB shingled versions qualified by customers.

Now Toshiba has signaled it is not going to be left behind capacity-wise in the nearline, mass-capacity disk drive technology race. It has demonstrated a 32 TB shingled HAMR drive with 10 x 3 TB platters. But it has also reached the 31 TB level with a shingled 11-platter MAMR drive, the first 11-platter nearline disk drive. That means it has 2.8 TB per platter.

Larry Martinez-Palomo, VP and Head of Storage Products Division at Toshiba, said: “Toshiba is concurrently advancing the development of future generation high-capacity HDDs using both HAMR and MAMR technologies. Mass production of hard disk drives incorporating HAMR will commence after the validation phase is completed. In the interim, Toshiba will continue to satisfy the demand for high-capacity, high-reliability storage devices with hard disk drives employing the field-proven MAMR technology.”  

The company said the two new drives resulted from “years of close collaborative work” with disk drive media supplier Resonac Corp and drive read/write head manufacturer TDK Corp. Resonac is the rebranded Showa Denko following a merger with Showa Denko Materials (formerly Hitachi Chemical), and Toshiba has been working with both TDK and Showa Denko for some time.

Toshiba plans to start shipping test sample HDDs of 28-30 TB with HAMR technology in 2025, presumably non-shingled as the 32 TB capacity level is not being reached.   

Now that Toshiba has shown it’s possible to stack 11 platters in a MAMR drive, the road is open for fellow MAMR drive shipper Western Digital to do the same. In theory we could see 11-platter versions of its 10-platter 24 TB conventional and 28 TB shingled drives having 26.4 TB and 30.8 TB capacities respectively.

We note that Toshiba has not demonstrated an 11-platter HAMR drive and that may be because the HAMR head electronics and media requirements inside the standard 3.5-inch form factor casing may prevent it. That would also hinder Seagate in adding an 11th platter to its HAMR drives.