Western Digital talks about migration to 30TB hard drives

Something to look forward to: Just a couple of weeks after Western Digital released its first 20 terabyte hard drive, its CEO spoke at a conference outlining some of its future plans. They include details of the technologies Western Digital plans to use in the future to increase storage capacity.

At the annual Wells Fargo TMT Summit this week, Western Digital CEO David Heckeler spoke about the company’s approach to technologies such as OptiNAND, SRM and HAMR. Goeckeler considers all three are critical to increasing density and moving to even larger hard drives.

Last year Seagate dispatched of their 20TB hard drives, which use HAMR to select data center customers. Last month, WD launched its own 20TB drives (currently out of print) with OptiNAND technology, which uses flash memory to store metadata.

“We are investing heavily in HAMR,” he said. “HAMR will be real, it will be in the future,” Gekeler said.

HAMR will increase the lifespan of hard drives, but it will also require a lot of software work and will not be commercialized for several years.

WD and Seagate aim to hit 30TB by mid-decade, and Seagate aims to hit 100TB by 2030. Heckeler believes WD already has stepping stones to achieve this with ePMR (Energy Saving Storage), SMR (Other Density – Magnification Method) and OptiNAND.

“I think SMR will become more real and customers more real,” said the WD boss.

One such move could be the use of 22 TB hard drives in 2022. WD’s current high-capacity hard drives use nine platters at 2.2TB per platter. Heckeler says they can release one with a 10th disc.

One technology that Heckeler does not mention is MAMR. Western Digital proposed the technology in 2017, claiming that it would enable 40TB hard drives by 2025.

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