Western Digital promises 40TB MAMR drives by 2025

So when will we see the first drives on the market?

It added that the technology ought to be capable of capacities of more than four terabits per square inch over time.

MAMR offers "all the gain without the pain" of heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), Collins said, bypassing HAMR's problems with cost and reliability. Only MAMR demonstrates the reliability and cost profile that meets the demands of data center operators. Western Digital expects to begin shipping ultra-high capacity MAMR HDDs in 2019 for use in data centers that support Big Data applications across a full range of industries.

The breakthrough, Western Digital explains, comes from the development of a spin-torque oscillator which is able to generate a microwave field to increase the ability of the magnetic read-write head to address significantly higher areal densities.

Cordano, citing his company's own analysis of the storage market, said that by 2020, about 70 percent of the total storage capacity is expected to still reside on hard drives as opposed to flash or other media. 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.

Western Digital's main focus going forward will be on MAMR technology, Collins said.

The event, held at the company's headquarters in Silicon Valley, included a demonstration of the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) HDD and presentations from company executives and the inventor of MAMR technology, Professor Jimmy Zhu from Carnegie Mellon University. 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.

"Western Digital's demonstration of MAMR technology is a significant breakthrough for the hard disk drive industry", said John Rydning, research vice president, Hard Disk Drives, IDC.

Western Digital has unveiled what it claims is the world's first microwave-assisted magnetic recording (MAMR) hard-disk that, it claims, can improve capacity, performance and reliability of conventional hard-disk technology. 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.