by Adam Armstrong

WD Unveils Its Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording Technology

Today at its “Innovating to Fuel the Next Decade of Big Data” event in San Jose, California, Western Digital Corp. (WDC) unveiled a new innovation for ultra-high capacity hard disk drives (HDDs), microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) technology. The company demonstrated MAMR technology at its headquarters in Silicon Valley with the inventor of MAMR technology, Professor Jimmy Zhu from Carnegie Mellon University. The MAMR drives are designed to expand HDD capacity meeting the demands of Big Data. WD also showcased advancements in micro actuation and Damascene recording head technology.

MAMR is an energy-assisted technology, much like heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). However, HAMR presents new material science and reliability challenges, this isn’t the case in MAMR. The core of this new technology is the “spin torque oscillator” used to generate a microwave field that increases the ability to record data at ultra-high density without sacrificing reliability, according to WD. The company goes on to state that using this technology they will be able to offer over 4 terabits-per-square-inch in time with HDDs hitting capacity of 40TB or more by 2025.

MAMR technology is the result of WD innovating a breakthrough in material and process that provides the required reliable and predictable performance, as well as the manufacturability to accelerate areal density and cost improvements to an estimated average of 15%/year. The company claims that thew new technology demonstrates the reliability and cost profile that meets the demands of data center operators.

MAMR technology is the latest result in a series of HDD innovation for the company. Recently the company released the first 14TB, helium, SMR drive. However, a key to MAMR is WD’s micro actuation and recording head manufacturing technologies. According to WD, this technology enables hard drives to accurately and reliably position magnetic heads for writing and reading at ultra-high densities. The company also leverages Damascene processing, allowing for it to manufacture heads with the precise tolerances and complex structures required for reliable and cost-effective recording at ultra-high densities and provide the capability to embed the spin torque oscillator that enables the manufacturing of MAMR heads.


Western Digital expects to begin shipping ultra-high capacity MAMR HDDs in 2019.

Western Digital Innovation

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