SMR is key to Seagate's plans to ship 20TB hard drives in 2020.
Seagate on Monday announced it has shipped over 1 million hard disk drives (HDDs) using shingled magnetic recording (SMR) technology. According to Seagate, SMR technology will play a critical role in developing hard drives of ever-increasing capacity with improved areal density, which is the amount of data that can be stored on a single disk, and is the first step to reaching a 20TB HDD within the next 7 years.
Using SMR technology, Seagate says it's on track to improve areal density by up to 25 percent or 1.25TB per disk, thus delivering HDDs with the lowest cost per gigabyte and reaching capacities of 5TB and beyond.
Prior to SMR, the big technology in HDDs was perpendicular recording, which improved areal density by arranging bits in a perpendicular fashion. This enabled narrower data tracks and read/write heads, though due to physical limitations, read/write heads have reached the point where they can no longer get smaller, Seagate claims.
SMR technology focuses on the media and rearranges the way data is stored on a disk by overlapping tracks, much in the same way shingles on a roof are stacked.
"With nearly 7 billion inhabitants on earth we are creating an astounding 2.7 zettabytes of data a year and as such are rapidly approaching the physical limits of how much can be written on a single conventional hard disk drive," said Mark Re, Seagate’s chief technology officer.
As a side benefit, Seagate says SMR technology also improves reliability since it allows the drive maker to use fewer heads and disks to achieve new capacity points.