Western Digital Using EAMR Technology In 18TB DC HC550 Enterprise Hard Drive
Western Digital HAMR-ing away at various EAMR technologies to deliver higher capacities without shingles
Western Digital recently announced two new CMR hard drives to its enterprise Ultrastar DC HC500 series. Coming in at 16TB and 18TB capacities, the DC HC540 and DC HC550 are aimed at cloud storage providers and other datacenter workloads where TB/rack density and TCO are important. These 3.5” drives utilize Western Digital’s 6th Generation HelioSeal platform along with 9 platters spinning at up to 7200 RPM to deliver 16TB and 18TB without needing to use alternative recording methodologies like shingled magnetic recording (SMR). Western Digital did need to take advantage of what it is calling “EAMR” or energy-assisted magnetic recording which amounts to an unspecified technology that heats up the platters in order to store more bits in a smaller area. Western Digital is being fairly guarded about the exact type and specific techniques they are using under the generalized “EAMR” umbrella, but it appears to be something along the HAMR research track rather than MAMR.
Exact specifications are still unknown, but the new enterprise drives are rated at 550TB/yr and have a 2.5 million MTBF rating and 5-year warranty. According to AnandTech, the DC HC550 is rated at random performance of 80 IOPS or ~4 IOPS/TB. Thanks to the higher areal density, sequential transfer speeds should sit at around 270+ MB/s but exactly how much above the 14TB model’s 267 MB/s rating is still to be determined.
Western Digital will begin sampling the drives to partners later this year with general availability to follow in 2020. Because these are CMR drives, they will appeal to a wider market and be an upgrade path for more enterprise and cloud storage applications as customers will not need to worry about host and application support and optimization necessary when using SMR which does still offer higher capacities than these new drives.
"The 18 TB Ultrastar DC HC550 is the first HDD in the industry using energy assisted recording technology. As part of our MAMR development, we have discovered a variety of energy assisted techniques that boost areal density. For competitive reasons, we are not disclosing specific details about which energy assist technologies are used in each drive. "