Thursday, 22 March 2012

 Seagate, an industry leader in hard-disk drives and storage solutions, is the first manufacturer to achieve a storage density of 1 terabit per square inch.
The new technology will double the storage capacity of modern-day hard drives to 6 terabytes (Tbytes) for 3.5-inch drives and 2 Tbytes for 2.5-inch models, with a theoretical areal density limit ranging from 5 to 10 terabits per square inch, or 30 to 60 Tbytes for 3.5-inch drives and 10 to 20 Tbytes for 2.5-in. drives.
HAMR-ing out a new approach
Seagate researchers were able to achieve this new benchmark in data density by using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR).
“The growth of social media, search engines, cloud computing, rich media, and other data-hungry applications continues to stoke demand for ever greater storage capacity,” said Mark Re, senior vice president of Heads and Media Research and Development at Seagate. “Hard-disk drive innovations like HAMR will be a key enabler of the development of even more data-intense applications in the future, extending the ways businesses and consumers worldwide use, manage, and store digital content.”
Currently, perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) is used to record the full spectrum of digitized data – everything from photos and music on PCs to business information stored in data centers on the spinning platters inside a hard drive.
The problem with this is the size of each magnetic “bit.” They can only be so small until the magnetism of nearby bits begins to affect them.
The Seagate solution
“High-density” magnetic compounds can better withstand miniaturization. The issue here, though, is that the material used (e.g. iron platinum alloy) tends to be a bit stubborn when changing its magnetism (like when it has to write data). What the researchers discovered is that this problem can be fixed with the application of heat.
Seagate’s HAMR approach adds a laser to the hard drive head. While the head of the drive seeks and reads data in a conventional manner, whenever it needs to write, it fires up the laser for pinpoint heating.
This approach is a significant improvement over today’s drives: the maximum capacity of today’s 3.5-inch hard drives is 3 Tbytes, at about 620 gigabytes (Gbytes) per square inch. 2.5-inch drives, on the other hand, top out at 750 Gbytes, or roughly 500 gigabits per square inch.
For comparison’s sake, one terabit per square inch equals two million bits per linear inch, and each site is about 12.7 nanometers long.
But how did they make them so small?
Seagate manufacturers are able to increase their drive’s areal density and capacity by shrinking the platter’s data bits. This allows the team to pack more per square inch of disk space. They also tightened the data tracks (the concentric circles on the disk’s surface that anchor the bits) to further compact its size.
The reason why Seagate believes they can eventually achieve 60 Tbytes is because HAMR could eventually allow for areal densities of up to 10 terabits per square inch, where the magnetic bits register just one nanometer long.
Outlook
There’s no word on costs for a HAMR drive, nor how much adding a laser to the drive is going to affect the device’s power consumption and performance.

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