SSDs maybe all the rage nowadays, but you can’t beat the storage capacity of a good old mechanical hard drive. Thanks to helium filled drives we are now seeing 12TB drives hit the market, and now Western Digital say that 40TB+ drives can be created using a new technology called Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording (MAMR).

Microwave-Assisted Magnetic Recording (MAMR) is one of two energy-assisted technologies that Western Digital has been developing for years. The company recently innovated 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 percent per year. Developments in the other energy-assisted technology, specifically, heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), present new material science and reliability challenges that are not a factor in MAMR. Only MAMR demonstrates the reliability and cost profile that meets the demands of data center operators.

At the heart of the company’s innovation breakthrough 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. Western Digital’s innovative MAMR technology is expected to offer over 4 terabits-per-square-inch over time. With sustained improvements in recording density, MAMR promises to enable hard drives with 40TB of capacity and beyond by 2025, and continued expansion beyond that timeframe.

Considering we have only just seen 12TB drives, the jump to 40TB in 8 years seems a little optimistic, and it is unlikely these will be consumer drives. But if you are a digital hoarder like myself then the prospect of 40TB in one drive is very exciting indeed. I won’t even think about what the RAID rebuild time is like though!