Chief Technology Officer Seagate
What is the role of Singapore's offices in Seagate's global operations? We have four drive design R&D centers - two in Asia and two in the U.S. - and we divide them into different key market segments. The particular focus of the R&D center in Singapore is around mobile and consumer applications.
What the team here does is 2.5inch drives and they are focused on very thin formats of those drives. The one we just released, the 5mm thick Laptop Ultrathin HDD, was the result of the team here. And the other area that the group here works on, which is spread across our product portfolio, is hybrid drives. Speaking of the Ultrathin Laptop HDD; how will this product develop? What we try to do, generation upon generation, is to improve the capacity of the hard disk drive. And there’s two ways of doing that, we can put in more platters, which is hard to do in a 5mm drive. The other way is to grow the density of the platter, which means increasing the number of bits we can store per area of disk.
The other thing I think they would do is continue to work on the mechanics and algorithms to keep the product physically robust, so We demonstrated this technology on a drive with a storage capacity of 1 terabit per square inch back in March last year (drives today are shipping with a storage capacity of 700 Gigabit per square inch). Last year our CEO, Stephen Luczo, gave a presentation to Wall Street analysts on a HAMR drive. You can expect drives using this technology to be available probably in the middle of this decade or around 2016. What are the challenges in bringing this technology to the market? We've noticed that your stats are now in favor of storage volume shipped instead of number of drives shipped. Is industry demand shrinking? How do you ensure you maintain your revenue earned when the number of drives sold is reducing and that the prices of the drives are also falling? Prices have not been falling like they have historically, especially since the floods in Thailand a few years back. Since that time, along with some consolidation that has happened, the industry is a lot healthier. Prices are pretty flat lately. Even though we ship the same number of units, they have greater storage capacity, and we get paid more for those, so revenues and margins have held up pretty well.