Achieving another major milestone toward volume shipments of its pioneering HAMR (heat-assisted magnetic recording) technology, Seagate announces it has used its advanced HAMR technology to build and test the world’s first formatted and fully functioning 16TB enterprise hard drive platform in a standard 3.5-inch form factor — the highest capacity hard drives ever produced. Seagate is on track to grow beyond 20TB per drive in calendar 2020.

Seagate is using this 16TB pre-release version of its HAMR-based Exos hard drive to run the tests customers commonly use when integrating hard drives into enterprise applications. The successful tests have confirmed the HAMR drives are plug-and-play and operate just as any other hard drive in standard enterprise application environments.

Deployable storage capacity

In today’s dawning Data Age, the hunger for greater storage capacity continues to accelerate, as data capture and creation at the edge proliferates

No architectural changes are needed to integrate HAMR drives into current data centers and systems. Customers simply plug the drives in as with any other enterprise hard drive. In today’s dawning Data Age, the hunger for greater storage capacity continues to accelerate, as data capture and creation at the edge proliferates, and rapidly-evolving Artificial Intelligence applications demand access to ever-larger datasets to extract crucial learnings. Affordable, deployable storage capacity enables the digitisation of the world.

Seagate has developed HAMR to enable the next big increase in the amount of data that can be stored on a hard drive. HAMR uses a new kind of media magnetic technology on each disk that allows data bits, or grains, to become smaller and more densely packed than ever, while remaining magnetically stable.

Standard benchmark tests

A small laser diode attached to each recording head heats a tiny spot on the disk, which enables the recording head to flip the magnetic polarity of each very stable bit, enabling data to be written. Seagate’s proprietary execution of HAMR technology will be delivered in the industry’s standard form factor, thus reducing total cost of ownership by getting a lot more terabytes (TB) into the same space as a conventional hard drive.

Seagate Exos HAMR 16TB internal test unit “Seagate has begun running early Exos HAMR units through the full set of standard benchmark tests used to prepare and optimise each new hard drive product for deployment,” says Jason Feist, Seagate’s senior director of enterprise product line management. “Our testing has demonstrated the drives’ compatibility for enterprise systems that are being used today. No system level changes are needed to run the HAMR drives in these evaluations, or to deploy them in customer environments.”

Power efficiency tests

The Exos HAMR drives run like all other drives in a standard suite of integration benchmarks. At this point in early testing, they’re meeting our expectations for how a drive should interact in each benchmark,” Feist explains.

These new product-level HAMR tests provide further weight to the groundbreaking results from last year’s in-lab reliability tests

These are the same tests that customers use to qualify every new drive, including power efficiency tests, sg3_utils utilities that test SCSI commands to devices, standard smartmontools utility programs that will enable customers to characterise and compare HAMR drives in their environment right next to PMR drives, and several four-corners tests of reads, writes, random, sequential and mixed workloads.” These new product-level HAMR tests provide further weight to the groundbreaking results from last year’s in-lab reliability tests.

Surpassing customer requirements

In those tests Seagate HAMR read/write heads far exceeded industry standards for reliability and lifetime data transfer capability, surpassing customer requirements and standard hard drive specifications by a factor of 20. Combined with HAMR’s plug-and-play compatibility with standard systems, the results have further cemented customers’ confidence in HAMR’s readiness to launch into standard cloud and IT environments.

The HAMR technology we demo’ed last year is now being fully integrated into Seagate’s industry-leading high-capacity enterprise product portfolio,” says Feist. “We continue on track to deliver the future generations of Seagate Exos hard drives equipped with HAMR to achieve industry-leading areal density and capacity.”

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