New HAMR lasers could usher in 30TB+ HDDs, Seagate and Sony team up for production: Report

When Seagate formally introduced its first high-volume hard disk drives featuring its heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), it said all its components were produced in-house. However, a new report from Nikkei says that Seagate has teamed up with Sony Group to produce laser diodes for its HAMR write heads. This may signal that Seagate will not put all its eggs in one basket and will rely on laser diodes from Sony as a secondary source. 

These laser diodes will be used in 3.5-inch HDDs capable of holding 30+ TB of data, which points to Seagate’s Mozaic 3+ hard drive platformSony Semiconductor Solutions is set to begin manufacturing the diodes in May, which likely points to SSS being the second source for these diodes, as the first Mozaic 3+ HAMR drives are set to ship in the first quarter. 

In HAMR HDDs, the nanophotonic laser diode heats tiny portions of drive media to temperatures of 400°C ~ 450°C to reduce its magnetic coercivity before the plasmonic writer writes data to this area. Seagate does not disclose the exact characteristics of its write heads, and the information about exact temperatures comes from old publications.

(Image credit: Seagate)

To set up new production lines for these diodes, Sony plans to invest approximately ¥5 billion ($33 million) in a facility in Miyagi Prefecture, located in the northern part of Japan’s main island, and a factory in Thailand.

Seagate’s Mozaic 3+ HAMR-based platform could enable hard disk drives that feature capacities of 30TB and higher. Seagate said back in January that its HAMR-powered Exos hard drives with capacities of 30TB and higher will be available in large quantities later this quarter, following the completion of customer evaluations of the new HDDs. These drives will be primarily aimed at hyperscale cloud datacenters and bulk storage. While these HDDs provide ultimate capacity points, sales volumes of HAMR-based drives aren’t forecast to balloon immediately. Seagate predicts a million of the drives will be shipped in the first half of 2024. 

Meanwhile, the HAMR-based Mozaic 3+ storage technology will support a variety of products, including enterprise HDDs, NAS drives, and video and imaging applications (VIA) markets. As a result, plans are in place for IronWolf and SkyHawk HDDs powered by HAMR technology. That said, volumes of HAMR-based drives are poised to rise, and this is when Seagate will need additional diodes.