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November 7, 2017

Seagate could release the first 20TB hard drive by 2019

by John_A

Why it matters to you

As the top end of hard drive technology surges forward, less high-end models should become cheaper.

In October, Western Digital unveiled a new version of its helium-filled high capacity hard drive with a 14TB capacity. Now, Seagate has announced plans to release a 20TB hard drive by 2019, establishing the next battleground for the two companies as they jockey for position in terms of storage space.

Seagate has developed a new technology that is being referred to as Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR). It uses a minuscule laser — smaller than a grain of salt — to heat the recording surface, drastically reducing the amount of energy it takes to magnetize the necessary components, according to a report from Tom’s Hardware.

HAMR is apparently very scalable, with Seagate being able to increase its areal density by 30 percent annually over the last nine years. It currently stands at two terabytes per square inch, which is twice the density of leading hard disks that use Perpendicular Magnetic Recording technology.

Conversely, Western Digital uses a technique called Microwave Assisted Magnetic Recording, which uses microwaves in the place of lasers, according to a report from Tech Radar. The absence of lasers makes its drives more reliable, according to the manufacturer.

Of course, Seagate has good reason to take a bet on HAMR — it could potentially allow the company to get ahead of its rival Western Digital. The former expects to be fielding 40TB drives as early as 2023, while the latter expects it will be at least 2025 before it can do similar.

Both companies are obviously going to maintain that their own implementation of the technology is the best available, and so these projections might turn out to be more optimistic than realistic. Still, it seems clear that both Seagate and Western Digital are confident that they can continue to push the limits on hard drive technology over the next few years and beyond.

Western Digital remains on top for the time being, but Seagate is already prepping a 16TB hard drive that is set to make its debut in 2018 – and competition will no doubt remain fierce from there on out, as neither company wants to let the other establish a clear lead.

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