It’s almost a running joke: Seagate’s long-heralded hard drives with laser-assisted HAMR technology have been delayed for years and remain a test balloon in small series. Now the CEO of Seagate has announced a new date. In about a year, HAMR hard drives can ship with 30 TB.
Around “this time next year,” the HAMR-based hard drives with 30TB (and more later) storage capacities are expected to start shipping to customers, Dave Mosley said during the recent earnings call (Transcription of Seeking Alpha) to announce it is not exactly rosy Quarterly figures (PDF).
Our products are funded through our drive innovation and we continue to execute on our strong HDD product roadmaps. We are delivering the 20-plus terabyte family of nearline drives and high volume, and we are well on our way to launching our 30-plus terabyte family of drives based on HAMR technology. We expect to begin shipping these HAMR-based products around this time next year. Dave Moseley, CEO of Seagate
When it comes to HAMR, Seagate was gambling credibility
Given the frequent shifts and ultimately unfulfilled promises about the hard drives with the new recording method Heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), Seagate is increasingly losing credibility on this point. For example, in 2007 Seagate promised hard drives with HAMR and up to 38 terabytes of storage space in 2010. The delivery of the first models, which was later announced for 2017, also did not take place. It took until 2020 for the first HAMR hard drives to appear.
However, these only offered 20 TB of storage volume. In addition, the small series production remained, which was more of a test balloon for internal testing at corporate customers than a marketable mass product. Now it remains to be seen whether the next generation of 30+TB HAMR hard drives can make it to the announced summer 2023 date and whether it will be enough for the big market launch this time.
The market leader is under pressure
Seagate is the reigning market leader for HDDs after Western Digital took more care of the SSD business after its acquisition of SanDisk. But Seagate is coming under increasing pressure from the delays in HAMR technology. Western Digital recently tightened the reins again with the presentation of the first commercial HDDs with 22 TB and 26 TB and should easily reach the 30 TB mark next year. So Seagate has to counter that.
Western Digital also plans with HAMR for the distant future but does not see the time for that yet. Instead, the second largest HDD manufacturer is initially using a combination of Energy-Assisted Magnetic Recording and NAND Flash Memory (OptiNAND) for rich metadata. Toshiba, the third largest manufacturer, again favored the MAMR process using microwave technology. Toshiba expects to reach 30TB by 2024.
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