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A Look at Seagate’s “Nanophotonic” Hard Drive Architecture

February 1, 2024

Seagate Technology has announced a new hard drive architecture utilizing a “nanophotonic laser,” which leverages heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology to allow for extremely high capacities. 

HAMR isn’t brand-new tech, and many other manufacturers are experimenting with similar lasers. If you’re new to the concept, here’s an overview:

  • Hard drives and other magnetic storage devices have a limited areal density (the amount of data that can be stored on a given unit of space).
  • When hard drive platters have extremely high areal densities, the write process becomes less reliable due to interference. In other words, writing a magnetic charge might cause unwanted changes in neighboring areas of the disk.
  • Heating the hard drive can address this issue. The platters utilize “grains” of materials that only change their magnetic properties at high temperatures. 
  • On HAMR drives, a laser brings the grains to a high-enough temperature to allow the read/write heads to write data.

Seagate’s latest HAMR drive architecture, the Mozaic 3+™ platform, is reported to store 3 terabytes (RB) of data on each platter. That allows for up to 30 TB per drive — a much higher capacity than other enterprise-grade hard drives currently available.

Will HAMR hard drives change data storage?

As Seagate’s chief executive Dave Mosley notes, the world desperately needs ways to store large amounts of data.

“As AI use cases put a premium on raw data sets, more companies are going to need to store all the data they can,” Mosley notes. “To accommodate the resulting masses of data, areal density matters more than ever.”

HAMR and similar technologies can allow data centers to expand their storage capabilities without drastically increasing the physical footprint of their facilities. 

But you probably won’t see HAMR hard drives at your local big box store anytime soon: Devices that use Mozaic 3+™ will be marketed specifically to enterprises and cloud service providers. Consumers won’t need 30 TB of data storage, and the relatively high price of enterprise storage is hard to justify for standard applications.

Seagate’s first 30TB hard drive, the Exos® 30TB+, will be available early this year. Eventually, it’s expected to retail to the general public for about $450.

HAMR hard drives are reliable, but not perfect.

Seagate claims that the Mozaic 3+™ nanophotonic laser heats an “infinitesimal heat spot” on the platters, which increases data write reliability. An iron-platinum “superlattice” alloy makes the grains much less susceptible to magnetic interference than conventional hard drive platters.

Even with these innovations, data loss is still possible — and eventually, inevitable, since all hard drives have mechanical components that fail over time. 

At, we’ve invested heavily in research and development to create effective data recovery techniques for HAMR drives, SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording) drives, and other next-generation storage technologies. 

To learn more about our services, call 1-800-237-4200 or schedule a risk-free evaluation online.