Seagate recently announced its plans to introduce the first hard drive that exceeds 30 TB capacity and utilizes its heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. The company also reinforced its goal to release hard drives with capacities of 50 TB and above in the near future.
Before these advancements, Seagate will release 22 TB and 24 TB hard drives that will utilize perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) and shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technologies, respectively.
The energy-assisted magnetic recording methods, such as HAMR, will be used for future hard drive generations for many years.
Although PMR is nearing its limit, it is still advancing. Seagate has successfully increased the areal density enabled by its PMR + TDMR platform by around 10%, allowing for 2.2 TB 3.5-inch hard drive platters and resulting in 22 TB hard drives featuring 10 of these disks. Additionally, by utilizing shingled recording, these drives can extend their capacity to 24 TB.
These 22 TB and 24 TB Seagate Exos hard drives will be compatible with existing cloud data center hardware and infrastructure.
They will not require extensive validation and certification procedures. Seagate’s customers can quickly deploy these hard drives, increasing storage density and capacity in their data centers.
Seagate is increasing production of its 22 TB hard drives for data centers, so shipments should begin soon. The company has not announced an official launch date for these 22 TB and 24 TB parts. Still, they are expected to arrive before the introduction of their HAMR-based hard drives, likely in Q1 or Q2.
HAMR-based hard drives with capacities of 30 TB or more will be available for shipping in the third quarter of this year, which aligns with Seagate’s previous announcement.
The CEO of Seagate, Dave Mosley, stated that the company is meeting or exceeding all product development milestones and reliability metrics and will be shipping pre-qualification units to key cloud customers in the coming weeks.
Initially, Seagate will only offer its HAMR technology for its highest-capacity offerings for hyper-scale data centers, which require maximum storage density, and are willing to pay a premium for the drives and supporting infrastructure.
As yields of HAMR-supporting media and read/write heads increase, the technology will be applied to drives with lower capacities to reduce production costs. However, this will not happen overnight as the company needs to increase the yields of HAMR drive components and hard drives to a satisfactory level.
In addition to the 30+ TB hard drives, Seagate also announced that it had created 5 TB platters for 3.5-inch hard drives, which likely includes new media, new write heads, and new read heads.
These platters are currently being used for evaluation and testing on spin stands. Still, they have the potential to allow for 50 TB hard drives a few years down the line. Seagate’s roadmap indicates that these hard drives will be available on the market sometime in 2026.
It is currently unclear how thin the new platters are. Still, with current trends in nearline hard drive evolution, Seagate may find ways to integrate even more than ten platters in future drives, potentially resulting in hard drive sizes larger than 50 TB.