Seagate has recently published a preview of its next generation product hard drive lineup that utilize heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. A company roadmap indicates that the first commercial release of 32 TB capacity HAMR Mach 2 drives is penciled in for a Q3 2023 window, with a short hop to increased storage (40 TB) models predicted for launch in 2024. Seagate is also expected to release 24 TB and 28 TB capacity HDDs - based on the older perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology - at some point in the near future. Technology news outlets anticipate that these two product ranges will co-exist for a while, until Seagate decides to favor its more advanced thermal magnetic storage solution. A lucky data center client has been getting hands-on time with evaluation HAMR hardware, as reported in late April
. Seagate has since supplied other enterprise customers with unspecified HAMR HDD models.
Executives at Seagate have been openly discussing their HAMR products - destined to sit in new Corvault server equipment. Gianluca Romano, the company's chief financial officer, mentioned several models during a presentation at the Bank of America 2023 Global Technology conference: "When you go to HAMR, our 32-terabyte (model) is based on 10 disks and 20 heads. So same number of disks and head of the current 20-terabyte PMR...So all the increase is coming through areal density. The following one, 40-terabyte, still (has) the same 10 disks and 20 heads. And also the 50 (TB model), we said at our earnings release, in our lab, we are already running individual disk at 5 terabytes."
He continues to outline the cost benefit of producing these hard disk drives: "So we can increase capacity by a lot without increasing the cost per unit because it's the same bill of material. So that will give the industry and Seagate in particular, because we are not the first adopter, to have a cost reduction and to maybe give some of that cost reduction to our customers, not to improve their TCO, we want them to be successful, but not all. In the past, the vast majority of the cost was passed to customers. I think HAMR will give us opportunity to still provide a good total cost of ownership (TCO) to the customer, but keep a good part of that cost improvement into Seagate and therefore, improve the gross margin. That is the main focus, the main strategy of the company and why we spend so much money in developing HAMR."
Romano proposes that Seagate will ultimately profit from their new endeavor, alongside a small saving for clients: "That is another good advantage of HAMR. If you think 40-terabyte based on 10 disks and 20 heads, there are probably only one segment that will use 40 terabytes at their point. So it's only the cloud. The other segments of enterprise OEM probably will be in the 30 terabytes, video and image application will be in the 20 terabytes and other legacy products will be lower. But you can see, for example, in the video and image application, they could have a 20-terabyte with 5 disks and 10 heads. So this drive will basically compete with a traditional drive with 10 disks and 20 heads. So it's a huge difference in bill of material, a huge difference in cost. Again, it's not that we need to give all that cost to customers. We give a little bit of that cost benefit to customers. And the rest of the benefit should stay with Seagate and, again, improving our gross margin at very different capacity points using the new technology."
Storage needed for businesses continues to increase and most of the companies still use mechanical hard drivers.