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Fujitsu announces technology for future hard drive capacity expansion

Fujitsu of America announced another advancement in its research of magnetic recording. Using patterned media technology, Fujitsu was able to achieve a one-dimensional array nanohole pattern with a 25 nanometer pitch. This process could one day enable one terabit per square inch recording on HDDs. Fujitsu also revealed a new development involving perpendicular magnetic recording read/write operation on random patterned media. With this technology, the soft underlayer is used as the PMR media, another important milestone.

A density of one terabit per square inch is about five times greater than the current drive technology on the market. Applying a one terabit areal density figure to today’s drive sizes would give us 3.5” drives capable of storing 5TB or 2.5” notebook drives holding 1.5TB.

Fujitsu first announced innovations with patterned media recording in June 2005. At that time, advancements were made with the introduction of a process to pre-pit aluminum media, resulting in nanoholes with an extremely dense and ordered structure. In addition, a technique called land/groove texturing allowed for the creation of discrete tracks in which the nanoholes could be formed. This progress in patterned media has enabled the development of high capacity hard disk drives, especially in smaller form factors.

This progress in patterned media recording closely follows the November 2006 Fujitsu announcement regarding the optical element being developed for thermal assisted recording, another promising advancement for future capacity increases.

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Large 2.5 inch drives
By kuyaglen on 1/24/2007 11:45:51 AM , Rating: 2
Having Fujitsu provide high capacity drives also would benefit the consumer since now there would be 3 large drive (1+TB) manufacturers to choose from, when there was 2 (Seagate, Hitachi).

I have a 3.1TB fileserver that has a lot of unorganized files, that I would be able to copy onto an external 2.5" drive, plug it into my work pc and and find my down time more productive (for me at least). And reducing the number of drives from 12x3.5" to 3x2.5" drives would help on size/noise/head/power.

RE: Large 2.5 inch drives
By dice1111 on 1/24/2007 12:50:18 PM , Rating: 2
Your HDD's give out "head"? Lucky guy...

RE: Large 2.5 inch drives
By kuyaglen on 1/24/2007 6:04:22 PM , Rating: 2
whoops, I meant "heat". I guess you can tell what 1/3 of my file server is for.

By patentman on 1/24/2007 12:28:51 PM , Rating: 2
Nanodot media has been around for a while, even will before 2005.

Proof: See

I posted the following comment regaridng the linked article on the Anandtech forums under the name klaviernista at around the same time the article was posted (typos corrected):

"I examine patent applications for magentic media at the patent and trademark office. The problem you are describing has been around for a long time, as has so called "nanodot" media. This problem is called "intergranular exchange coupling" and contributes to increased noise in high density magnetic media.

This problem arose as a result of the industry striving towards increased recording density. One way to get increased recording density is to reduce the size of the grains in magnetic layer (Basically, 1 grain=1 bit, so more grains = more bits per square inch). The problem with this is that as you reduce grain size, the coercivity (basically the strength by which a magnetic domain is held in a fixed direction) decreases. In other words, the orientation of each domain in each bit becomes more susceptible to being influenced by external magnetic fields. Well, as each grain is magnetic and the coercivity of each grain is low at small grain sizes, the magnetic field of each grain impacts the orientation of the domain in each surrounding grain. As a result, the noise of the media is increased.

Industry has come up with a variety of ways to combat this problem. the most common way to prevent or reduce this type of coupling is to introduce Cr into the magnetic layer. Cr only has a certain solubilty in the crystalline lattice of a Co alloy (Co is the most common element used for the magentic layers in magentic media). When the CoCr magnetic layer is formed, it is first deposited (via sputtering or cvd) and then annealed. As a result of the annealing step, excess Cr segregates from within the crystalline grain into the area between adjacent grains (called the grain boundary). By controlling the amount of Cr which segregates, the spacing between grains is controlled. As you probably know, magnetic field intensity decreases as the distance from its origin increases. Thus, the influence of each grain's magnetic field on surrounding grains is substantially reduced by the introduction of Cr into the grain boundary. In addition, non-magentic oxides such as SiO2 and TiO2 have also been used to segregate grains.

So, with nanodot media and quantum dot media, it is likely that some form of segregant will be utilized to separate each dot, or the dots themselves will be spaced apart when they are deposited so as to minimize this type of grain coupling. Many quantum dot media are formed by self assembly methods, so control over spacing between each dot can usually be controlled realtively easily."

later in the same thread, I posted the following comment:

"Oh, and the article states something to the effect of: these researchers have created 5nm nickel dots, which are about 10 times smaller then those previously produced. It shouold read "those previously produced, by them." I personally worked on a project at the Naval Research Laboratory a number of years (note, this project took place from 1996-1999) back where I used a reverse micelle synthesis technique to fabricate spherical 3 nm Iron Oxide (superparamagnetic) and 11nm FePt (ferromagnetic) nanoparticles. Further, the use of the reverse micelle technique to create magnetic nanoparticles on the scale asserted by these researchers has been known since the early 90's, and the potential use of these particles as memory has been around since the mid 90's as well. So to me there is nothing really new about wehat these guys have done.

I'm not trying ot sound arrogant, I'm just letting you know that this isn't really new is all. Still interesting tech though. "

FOr other interesting articles about nanodots and their potentioal use in memory, see the patent and non-patent literature of Dr. Everett Carpenter, who to my knowledge is still a researcher at the Naval Research Lab.

By dice1111 on 1/24/2007 12:48:00 PM , Rating: 2
No where in the article does it says it's new Nanodot tech, just a new application for Fujitsu as a company to increase density.

Thank you for the exausting and irrelivent post.

By patentman on 1/24/2007 12:53:54 PM , Rating: 2
Read the title of the article: "Fujitsu Makes Advancement in Hard Drive Density"

Now read the title again.... Fujitsu makes "ADVANCEMENT." My post above indicates that did no such thing. All Fujitsu did was announce that they have a potential commercial product, yet the article makes it sound like they invented nanodot media. This is far from true.

"In addition, a technique called land/groove texturing allowed for the creation of discrete tracks in which the nanoholes could be formed"

Land groove texturing is EXTREMELY old technology, yet the article implies that it is the bees knees of nanodot media. Hell, land/groove is based on the exact same technology as the manufacturing techniques for optical CD's.

Thank you for your ignorant and uneducated post.

Did I miss a timeframe
By PAPutzback on 1/24/2007 9:20:16 AM , Rating: 2
How long before wee see this tech. It seems to have shown up just in time for the newly cracked HD formats. We will be able to continue our online storage of movies.

RE: Did I miss a timeframe
By patentman on 1/24/2007 12:48:21 PM , Rating: 2
It didn't just show up. Its been around a long time. I'd say we could see the 1st commercial nanodot drivces as soon as a year from now, as far as five years.

the question is.....
By ncage on 1/24/2007 9:10:02 AM , Rating: 1
Are the going to make consumer desktop hard drives again. It would great great if they did. I always liked their desktop hard drives. Unfortunatly i think they left the desktop space because of tight margins. I hope they return...

RE: the question is.....
By patentman on 1/24/2007 12:47:36 PM , Rating: 2
Fujitsu does a lot of reasearch in magentic recording media. They just license their tech to other companies for the development of consumer products nowadays.

Good news
By shaw on 1/24/2007 12:14:16 PM , Rating: 2
Definately good news, but I wont get excited until Fujitsu announces a release date on a hard drive using the technology.

It's all about how you look at it
By dagamer34 on 1/24/2007 1:39:33 PM , Rating: 2
a) Higher density means more hard drive space for the same amount of money


b) Less money need to buy the same out of hard drive space.

So what
By jaybuffet on 1/24/07, Rating: -1
RE: So what
By PAPutzback on 1/24/2007 9:24:02 AM , Rating: 2
I have 1.5 terabyte of space with about 1.3 used up in video, music, photos and game downloads. MS wouldn't be coming out with Windows Home server for the average Joe if only a small percentage of users were using less than 200 gigs of space.

RE: So what
By soydeedo on 1/24/2007 9:39:06 AM , Rating: 3
exactly. with the way things are headed consumers are going to be relying on an htpc type setup and once some of these new movie download services come into play average joes really will need that kind of space.

RE: So what
By dice1111 on 1/24/2007 12:36:59 PM , Rating: 4
As long as DRM doesn't kill or control all our options and freedoms like the media companies want it to.

RE: So what
By MrDiSante on 1/24/2007 1:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I have a 320 GB HDD, with 100 gigs of that split up for OS's the remaining 200 GiB are about 1/2 full. And that's because I regularly end up backing up my media onto DVDs and deleting it. If I didn't I could easily fill up my HDD. So more storage for less is always a good thing - it's like money, you can never have too much.

RE: So what
By jaybuffet on 1/24/2007 5:45:50 PM , Rating: 2
This is why I asked what % of people. I doubt most of you are average users. So I wonder how much the average person uses.

Also, if the home user has a 1TB disk in their Windows Home Server, how do they back that up in case it crashes? Don't the larger disk sizes only create more problems when it comes to backing up? I don't think the avg user edits raw video footage. If they are editing video, more than likely it would be compressed i would think. Same thing with photos.

I mean, take a 200GB drive. HD video using WMV is about 8mbps (or 1MBps). So 130GB for video(~36hrs),20GB for photos (@ 5MB per photo that would give you about 4000), 40GB for music (230 CD's @ 320kbps), and 10 gb for OS.

The avg user i don't think is a gamer (at least not PC gamer)

I just wished they would put more focus on speed instead of size. It's like Intel back when it was trying to get the Ghz as high as possible. Thankfully, AMD made them reconsider.

RE: So what
By masher2 on 1/24/2007 10:22:55 AM , Rating: 5
> "What I want is faster hard drives, quicker access...."

Err, higher data densities mean faster hard drives. A denser platter increases bandwidth...and a dense platter can be made smaller without impacting capacity, which allows for faster access times as well.

RE: So what
By semo on 1/24/2007 11:27:10 AM , Rating: 3
let's not fool ourselves. performance gains from data densities are laughable and nothing like the performance bumps we see on a regular basis with other pc components.

white goods see more innovation than hdds.

RE: So what
By masher2 on 1/24/2007 11:45:49 AM , Rating: 5
> "let's not fool ourselves. performance gains from data densities are laughable..."

Is this a joke? Performance gains from areal density increases are by far the primary driver for increased hard drive performance. In the last 20 years, desktop drive head positioning speeds have barely increased, rotational speeds have doubled...but areal densities have increased by more than a thousandfold. They are very nearly the sole reason drives are so much faster today than in 1986.

Drive bandwidth is very nearly a linear function of areal density. Double the density, and you double the drive speed...assuming the electronics, of course, can keep up. That's nearly perfect scaling...and better than we get for transistors in CPUs now.

> "white goods see more innovation than hdds..."

Today's hard drives are 10,000 larger and 20,0000 faster than the drives of 20 years ago. If you define that as "lack of innovation", you need to redefine your terms.

RE: So what
By nurbsenvi on 1/24/2007 12:02:37 PM , Rating: 2
But I think hard disks are still quite slow and a bit of a bottleneck

I wish Hard disks were as fast as DDR SDRAMS...

RE: So what
By Serlant on 1/24/2007 5:19:01 PM , Rating: 2
and you didnt see the article on the I-Rams that booted windows a whole 3 or something seconds faster than the hard disc? ( i think it was a while ago i read it)

RE: So what
By semo on 1/24/2007 12:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
i know hdds themselves have improved. i am talking about the concept of mass storage on pcs. perpendicular recording and hybrids are pretty big improvements but i still think the hdd is the biggest bottleneck (not counting non-system critical components such as optical drives and mlc flash).

Today's hard drives are 10,000 larger and 20,0000 faster than the drives of 20 years ago
i would say hdds have higher digital bandwidth but wouldn't call them faster. we still measure their seek times in ms.

RE: So what
By semo on 1/24/2007 12:40:33 PM , Rating: 3
also, your first quote takes my comment out of context. of course areal density increases improve hdds' performance but what i meant was that those increases are small compared to performance increases in other components.

example of what i'm trying to say... let's go back in time a few years and look at a athlon64 or pentium 4 when better performance was achieved almost exclusively from higher clocks.

so, we take a cpu and run a cpu intensive benchmark. we also run a hdd intensive benchmark on the hdd.

now replace the hdd with one that has twice the areal density and a cpu with double the clock rate and repeat the respective benchmark tests.

i'm just trying to illustrate my point with this crude example and nothing more.

RE: So what
By masher2 on 1/24/2007 12:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
> "your first quote takes my comment out of context."

I'ts pretty hard to take the statement that "white goods see more innovation than hard drives".

"what i meant was that those increases are small compared to performance increases in other components...."

Nothing on the planet increases in performance as fast as cpu chips. Compared to them, everything else is a "small advance". The fact remains that hard drive performance increases dramatically year after year, and innovation proceeds at a blinding pace.

> " I wouldn't call [hdds] faster..."

Now this is just plain silly. Go dig up an old 40MB 3600rpm drive and see just how slow it really is.

RE: So what
By patentman on 1/24/2007 12:45:32 PM , Rating: 2
Suprisingly, the concepts behind perpendicular recording and nanodot media are not all that different. Indeedc, both technologies improve area recording density by reducing the footprint over which an oriented doman exists.

Also, although I doubt the accuracy of Masher2's numbers, he is correct in saying that drive speeds have increased a tremendous amount in the last 25-30 years. The original hard disk was the size of a record player, and had a rotational speed about as fast as an old 45. We are recording now in the low milliseconds, which is extremely fast compared to the media of old.

You have to realize that reading and writing data is not as simple as storing an electron in logic circuit. Sure, the effect is the same (orientation of the Domain indicates a 1 or a 0), but the manner in which that domain gets oriented is actuall very complex relative to sticking an electron in memory. Low milliseconds is blazing fast considering all of the operations that have to go on to orient the domain, and all the balances that have to be struck to ensure that the domain stays in that orientation until it is re-written.

RE: So what
By patentman on 1/24/2007 12:35:12 PM , Rating: 2
"They are very nearly the sole reason drives are so much faster today than in 1986."

Increase areal density is a factor, but certainly not the sole factor. Equally important are advances in magnetoresitive head technology over that same time period. I can point to myriad documents in the patent literature to support that position.

Another factor is substrate technology. Flatter substrates allow heads to fly closer to the media, increasing signal to noise ratio thereby enabling faster read/write operations.

Another factor is lubricant technology, which, like flatter substrates, permits head to fly close to the media.

Another factor is more precise spindle motor technology.

The list goes on and on.

RE: So what
By masher2 on 1/24/2007 12:48:41 PM , Rating: 2
> "Equally important are advances in magnetoresitive head technology ..."

Err, those advances in head technology are what enabled areal density increases. Increased s/n ratio is another enabler. You're making my point for me. None of these tertiary technologies by themselves increase performance. They simply allow increased density, rotational density, and or seek times.

The situations is very simple. A drive's bandwidth is determined by the number of bits passing underneath the read every second. That is driven by two factors-- areal bit density, and rotational speed. The only other factor is the latency in the read request, which is a function of rotational speed and head seek times.

That's it. There aren't any other factors. Any technological advance that impacts performance does so by either directly or indirectly allowing improvement in one of these areas.

RE: So what
By patentman on 1/24/2007 1:07:11 PM , Rating: 2
err.. without these "tertiary" technologies, it wouldn;t mean jack if you had a postage stamp size disk that could store the entire library of congress on it. If you can't read or write to the media, the media is useless. Moreover, it certainly won't be faster than prior media, because, again, it cannot be read or written to.

My point (and maybe yours as well) is that with hard drives, multiple areas of technology (i.e., the head, the platter, the recording layer, the spindle motor etc.) have to be developed concurrently, else the device will not work. It is no where near as simple as you are trying to make it sound. I know for a fact (having worked in this industry for several years and having read about hard drive technology for 8 hours a day for almost 4 years at the USPTO) that you cannot simply match an old head with a new media. Unless something major has changed that I haven;t heard about, it doesn't work that way. If you think I'm wrong, prove it with some tangible evidence.

And one of these days I am going to figure out where the heck you get your information. You seem to think you know everything about everything, be it hard drives, IP law (or law in general), or anything else that happens to come across DT. If you aren't pulling this crap from wikipedia or something you are either the smartest person on the planet or are pulling stuff out of your...err...the air.

RE: So what
By masher2 on 1/24/2007 1:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
> " It is no where near as simple as you are trying to make it sound."

Nowhere did I "make it sound" as if increasing areal density was a simple process. In general, for bit densities to increase, advances must be made in several areas besides the platters themselves. That goes without saying.

My original statement still stands. The vast majority of improvements in hdd performance come from increased areal density. That increased density, in turn, comes from advancements in many other areas true. Butut the fact remainds that those technologies improve performance only by increasing areal density, or some other performance factor I listed above.

> "And one of these days I am going to figure out where the heck you get your information..."

With age cometh wisdom. :p

RE: So what
By jskirwin on 1/24/2007 10:46:00 AM , Rating: 2
You can't have enough closet space, memory and disk space. Those are facts of home and computer ownership. I remember hearing the same sentiments in the late 1980s when storage was measured in tens of megabytes.

RE: So what
By Micronite on 1/24/2007 10:48:06 AM , Rating: 2
You obviously don't do video editing.

RE: So what
By Souka on 1/24/2007 11:34:40 AM , Rating: 3
or work with Virtual PCs/Virtual Machines....

I used to have multiple boxes to run multiple servers.... now most of my servers (file/Antivirus/dns/apps) run on a single powerful box running VMs....another box runs external stuff like mail and FTP.

the old boxes are my linux dev stuff.....nice to have.

Soo....anyhow....I welcome the higher densities....espeically in laptops. 100gb @ 7200rpm isn't cutting it anymore....bring on the 1.5TB x2 in raid 0! Make a laptop fly!

Of course, I'd rather see SDD than HD...access time is a killer for me...

RE: So what
By Oregonian2 on 1/24/2007 3:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
*ONE* hour of video from my video camera takes up 13 GB. On my last vacation trip, I took 12 hours worth. And that's just the raw video for one trip, let alone edited versions. I'm an amateur photographer still using film. When I digitize ONE image (at 5400 dpi) in 16-bit mode, just ONE photo takes a significant portion of a Gigabyte, and I've taken many thousands of photos. I don't delete all my incoming email (do delete SPAM). My just my email program's (Thunderbird) directory is 7.5 Gb. and is continuing to grow. Wife's digital camera photos all collect on the PC as well. That's only about 20 GB so far, wait until she gets a next generation one.

RE: So what
By bigdaddy on 1/24/2007 3:35:44 PM , Rating: 2
Hard drive space is only relevent to the individual. For people who need large amounts of space, then this is a great leap forward.

But there are a lot of areas where speed is by far more important than size. If you have a large SAN that have a high number of user accessing it, the IOPS on the drive will be high. That's why spindle-based drives will become a thing of the past. Scandisk just released last week a 32 GB Solid State Drive. No moving components. It is also so much faster than any normal hard drive.

For example take a 15k SCSI drive. Now a decent seek time would be anywhere from 2 to 3.5 ms. Yet there is still the delay time for the platters. Which would be usually 2 ms, even on a fast 15k drive. So you may have a total of 5 ms on average and has an access of about 170 IOPS. Even though this looks great from any SATA drive (usually ends up being about 12 ms seek time in total and about 100 IOPS), it doesn't even compare to a Solid State Drive. The scandisk 32 GB SSD has a seek time of 0.12 ms. Compare that to 5 ms. And reads at about 7000 IOPS.

So I think that eventually SSD will become the winner for hard drive space since it's so much faster and will last much longer since there are no moving parts.

RE: So what
By PrezWeezy on 1/25/2007 6:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
Actually as you increase the ammount of data per square inch, the head has to move less to access that data, allowing for quicker access times. And SSD wont be able to store lots of information. I think the best thing to do with SSD is to install the OS to it, then have a seperate hard drive for data. I have a good ammount of stuff that isn't music/video and I take up my 160GB, my 120GB, and I just got an 80GB from a friend that I'm using about 60GB of.

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