Industry’s First MAMR HDD Announced: Western Digital Reveals 18 TB DC HC550 Hard Drive

Western Digital has formally announced the industry’s first hard drives featuring microwave assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) technology. Kicking things off with capacities of 16 TB and 18 TB, the Ultrastar DC HC550 HDDs are designed to offer consistent performance at high capacities and will be available to interested parties in 2020.

The Western Digital Ultrastar DC HC550 18 TB 3.5-inch hard drive relies on the company’s 6th Generation helium-filled HelioSeal platform. The key technology advancement with the new drives work is MAMR technology, which WD is using to build 2TB platters. The 18 TB model, in turn, features 9 of these platters.

Since we are dealing with a brand-new platform, the Ultrastar DC HC550 also includes several other innovations, such as a new mechanical design. Being enterprise hard drives, the new platform features a top and bottom attached motor (with a 7200 RPM spindle speed), top and bottom attached disk clamps, RVFF sensors, humidity sensors, and other ways to boost reliability and ensure consistent performance. Like other datacenter-grade hard drives, the Ultrastar DC HC550 HDDs are rated for a 550 TB/annual workload, a 2.5 million hours MTBF, and are covered by a five-year limited warranty.

Because the new MAMR-based nearline HDDs use platters featuring a leading-edge areal density, expect the Ultrastar DC HC550 to offer higher sequential performance than existing 7200 RPM hard drives. Meanwhile, since the new storage devices feature a single actuator that enables around 80 IOPS random reads, IOPS-per-TB performance of the new units will be lower when compared to currently available high-capacity 10 – 14 TB HDDs (think 4 IOPS-per-TB vs. 5.7 – 8 IOPS-per-TB) and will require operators of large datacenters to tune their hardware and software to guarantee their customers appropriate QoS.

Unlike Westen Digital’s flagship 20 TB shingled magnetic recording (SMR) hard drive for cold storage applications, the company’s 16 TB and 18 TB HDDs use energy-assisted conventional magnetic recording (CMR) that ensures predictable performance both for random read and write operations. As a result, while the Ultrastar DC 650 SMR HDD will be available only to select customers that can mitigate peculiarities of SMR, the Ultrastar DC 550 hard drives will be available to all clients that are satisfied with their IOPS-per-TB performance and will have qualified them in their datacenters.

Western Digital will ship samples of its MAMR-based Ultrastar DC HC550 16 TB and 18 TB hard drives to clients late this year and plans to initiate their volume ramp in 2020.

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Source: Western Digital