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New hard drive limit: 1Tb per inch

Seagate has announced new technology that pushes hard drive storage density to 1 terabit per square inch, a 55% improvement on present-day hard drive density.
Hardndrive maker Seagate has announced breakthrough new technology that pushes hardndrive storage density to 1 terabit (1 trillion bits) per square inch. That’s an55% improvement on the present-day ceiling for hard drive density, whichnheralds the ability for storage vendors to keep pace with the unprecedented creation,nexchange and retention of data which characterises the modern human race.

TyronenGruner, senior product manager at local Seagate distributor Platinum Micro,nsays this technology will double the storage capacity of today’s hard drivesnlater this decade. “When put into production, Seagate expects a standardn3.5-inch hard drive to deliver capacities of up to 60 terabytes in the 10 yearsnthat follow,” he enthuses.

Theninternet, social media and – for a great many businesses – enterprise systemsnare resulting in the creation of data at unimagined rates. IBM estimates thatnevery day, some 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. “Storing data is angame of astoundingly big numbers; however, even though information is created,ncopied, shared and replicated, the makers of the devices to retain it are ablento keep pace,” Gruner notes.

Comingnback to Seagate’s new technology, he says the bits within a square inch of thendisk space  far outnumber stars in the Milky Way, which astronomers putnbetween 200 billion and 400 billion. “The technology is called heat-assistednmagnetic recording or HAMR. It is expected to supersede current hard driventechnology, Perpendicular Magnetic Recording, or PMR.”

PMRntechnology was introduced in 2006 to replace longitudinal recording, a methodnin place since the advent of hard drives for computer storage in 1956, and isnexpected to reach its capacity limit near 1 terabit per square inch in the nextnfew years.

MarknRe, senior vice president of Heads and Media Research and Development atnSeagate, says hard disk drive innovations like HAMR will be a key enabler ofnthe development of even more data-intense applications in the future. “[Thisntechnology will] extend the ways businesses and consumers worldwide use, managenand store digital content,” he adds.

How they did it

Hardndrive manufacturers increase areal density and capacity by shrinking anplatter’s data bits to pack more within each square inch of disk space. Theynalso tighten the data tracks, the concentric circles on the disk’s surface thatnanchor the bits. The key to areal density gains is to do both withoutndisruptions to magnetization, a phenomenon that can garble data.

UsingnHAMR technology, Seagate has achieved a linear bit density of about 2 millionnbits per inch, once thought impossible. The maximum capacity of today’sn3.5-inch hard drives is 3 terabytes (TB), at about 620 gigabits per squareninch, while 2.5-inch drives top out at 750 gigabytes (GB), or roughly 500ngigabits per square inch.

Thenfirst generation of HAMR drives, at just over 1 terabit per square inch, willnlikely more than double these capacities – to 6TB for 3.5-inch drives and 2TBnfor 2.5-inch models. The technology offers a scale of capacity growth nevernbefore possible, with a theoretical areal density limit ranging from 5 to 10nterabits per square inch – 30TB to 60TB for 3.5-inch drives and 10TB to 20TBnfor 2.5-inch drives.

Seagatenachieved this breakthrough at its Heads and Media Research and Developmentncentres in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Fremont, California.

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