UBS lowers Western Digital price target, positive on MAMR potential

Western Digital Announces 'Breakthrough' In Disk-Drive Storage

Even if your local data is on a zippy SSD, whatever you have in the cloud is living on big spinning hard drives.

The new Western Digital technology was announced at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley and included a demonstration of what it called "the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording", known as MAMR. The advantage over other energy-assisted technologies, such as heat-assisted magnetic recording, is that it utilises the same materials.

If MAMR works out, it would most likely replace Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) and the next generation standard.

MAMR technology was developed primarily in-house with help from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The company says its Damascene head-making process is the second key component in bringing MAMR technology to a manufacturable state. Not only would HAMR require completely new manufacturing techniques, but servers would also need new driver software to manage wear leveling caused by the rapid and repeated heating. "Commercialization of MAMR technology will pave the way to higher recording densities, and lower cost per terabyte hard disk drives for enterprise datacenters, video surveillance systems, and consumer NAS products".

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"For the past few years, Western Digital has been a time-to-market leader at each of these higher-capacity points, so the company has just been a step or two ahead of the competition in terms of introducing these very high-capacity drives", he said. The concept isn't new - the original patent for using heat to increase the stability of magnetically-stored data was granted in 1954, and the technology itself saw brief usage in magneto-optical drives from the 1980s before writeable CDs cornered the market for low-priced write-once mass storage - but Western Digital claims MAMR is now ready for prime time.

Western Digital expects MAMR technology to crunch more than 4 terabits into a square inch of disk space. The company's head manufacturing operations are the only internal supplier to utilize Damascene processing to manufacture heads with the precise tolerances and complex structures required for reliable and cost-effective recording at ultra-high densities. MAMR uses the same media materials and similar head manufacturing process as PMR.

For further information on Western Digital MAMR technology, go to http://innovation.wdc.com.

Western Digital stock closed down slightly on Wednesday and traded up less than 0.3% Thursday afternoon at $85.85, in a 52-week range of $52.10 to $95.77. The company is driving the innovation needed to help customers capture, preserve, access and transform an ever-increasing diversity of data. Western Digital data-centric solutions are marketed under the G-Technology, HGST, SanDisk, Tegile, Upthere and WD brands.

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