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32TB hard drives are incoming according to Toshiba

Using its Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) tech, Toshiba has unlocked a new level of hard drive capacity in its latest HDD demo.

toshiba 32tb hard drive hamr

Toshiba has just shown off a new 32TB hard drive, using its HAMR technology to pack more data than ever before into its HDD platters. While hard drives might still be stuck in the past when it comes to data speeds, these new capacities continue to make these magnetic marvels the most cost-effective options for big data storage.

Just how many of the best PC games can you expect to store on a 32TB hard drive? Well, once formatted we’d expect this size of drive to provide 29.1TB of space, and with many games now pushing 100GB per install, that means you could fit roughly 290 games on the drive, once you’ve accounted for your Windows installation and other ancillary bits. That’s not bad for one drive, though it would be much slower than an SSD.

To achieve such a high capacity, Toshiba and its development partners, TDK and Resonac, combined ten hard drive platters into one drive, which is quite a densely packed disk already. Many smaller-capacity drives only house one platter per drive, but enterprise-level drives often contain many more platters.

Still, even with ten platters squeezed into the drive, this works out as 3.2TB per platter, which is a significant jump over the current highest-density drives with 2.6TB per platter.

For those unfamiliar with the terminology here, a platter refers to the spinning disks inside the drive, upon which is deposited a magnetic material that can store tiny magnetic fields. This surface can be manipulated to store data by a drive read/write head that moves across the surface of the disk as it spins. Key breakthroughs in hard drive capacity have come from increasing the number of bits of data that can be stored on each of these platters.

The latest breakthrough is Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR), which uses a tiny laser to heat the surface of the disk, allowing the read/write head to change the magnetic field to record its 1 or 0. This heating is required, as the disk uses a new material that is less reactive to magnetic interference at normal temperatures, a change that is required to allow the platter to store data at higher densities. The laser heats and cools down the data storage location in a nanosecond.

While its demo drive topped out at 32TB, Toshiba plans to ship drives of a slightly lower 28-20TB capacity for testing in 2025, which may mean we’ll start seeing drives of these sizes sampling next year.

Don’t expect them to be cheap, though. With 22TB and 24TB drives going for around $600 a piece at the moment, we’d expect 30TB drives to demand even higher prices. However, that’s still considerably less than you’d have to pay if you were trying to get the same storage capacity from the best SSDs for gaming in the world.