backtop


Print 47 comment(s) - last by wiiz3rd.. on Jul 10 at 3:13 PM


Fig. 3 shows a laser head heating the disc while lubricant vapor bombards the depleted area

Nanotubes stacked in a thin layer to create a lubricant
Up to 10X the capacity of current harddrives can be achieved

Seagate has submitted a patent for a technology it invented that could give current hard drive technology a few more years of life. Using nanotube technology, Seagate plans to bring a hard drive's read and write head even closer to the spinning platter than it already is today. Because of the mechanics of the way hard drives store data, the closer the read and write head is to the patter, the more information can be recorded.

Earlier this year, we started to see hard drives using perpendicular technology make their way into the market. The technology is one of those inventions that changes the fundamental way information is recorded onto disk. Without going into too much background information, perpendicular recording techniques have given new life to hard drives. Despite this however, storage demands continue to increase as consumers find more uses for data-focused consumer electronics such as portable video players, audio players and other mediums.

Using nanotubes, Seagate's patent involves coating the surface of a hard drive's platter with an extremely thin layer of extremely tough lubricant. The lubricant is designed to protect the actual magnetic medium, which in itself ranges from 2 to 50nm in thickness. Using this lubricant, Seagate will lower the read/write head to the point where it actually may come into contact with the platter. Seagate will also be introducing a heating mechanism such as a laser, which will heat up a small area of the platter allowing magnetic particles to be arranged more precisely -- thus allowing greater data densities. The laser itself will be positioned adjacent to the read and write head.

Since the lubricant layer is so thin however, the area that was heated will have some of the lubricant evaporated. To combat this, a reservoir that contains lubricant made of hundreds of thousands to millions of nanotubes is contained within the hard drive. Using precise pressure, the lubricant is evaporated into a vapor, and the vapor then deposits itself onto the area where there was depleted lubricant. According to Seagate, the vapor lubricant will take no more than a single disc rotation to complete the filling processes. The patent also says that hard drives will contain enough nanotube lubricant to last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. From Seagate's patent:

The saturated reservoir 60 of disc lubricant may be placed at any suitable location within the disc enclosure 12. The reservoir 60 delivers a predetermined vapor pressure of lubricant inside the enclosure. Lubricant molecules thereby enter the gas phase and bombard the disc surface with a known rate principally determined by the vapor pressure. A multilayer surface film of lubricant is therefore built up from the gas phase. Equilibrium is then established between the gas phase lubricant molecules and the outermost layer of the formed multilayer surface film.

Although it is unknown when this technology will make it to market, it's evident that scientists are hard at work devising new ways to keep the hard drive going. Using nanotube technology in conjunction with perpendicular recording, we should be able to see hard drives with capacities in the terabytes become common. Seagate suggests that we can see hard drives with 10 times the capacities of today's largest hard drives.

Fujitsu also recently announced a breakthrough in the lubricant layer of its hard drives.  By using an extra thin layer of hard, friction-reduced materials, the magnetic head can get closer to the drive platter.  Thus,  the bits can be smaller and the density of the platter increased.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Too complicated to be feasible
By maxusa on 7/3/2006 3:39:12 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not a scientist, but believe understand a thing or two in basic feasibility. A sealed enclosure with lubricant reservoir of nano-lube + heating laser + precision tolerances + controlled pressure... seems too far fetched for a feasible mainstream technology. The current incarnation of HDDs is very plain and simple: enclosure, actuator, heads, platters, and fairly simple electronics. I think the design of the future shall be very simple to be feasible like perpendicular recording, teflon-like platter coating, etc. This is for the next 10 years. Beyond this point, perhaps, the death of rotating medium as a class is imminent anyways.




RE: Too complicated to be feasible
By masher2 (blog) on 7/3/2006 8:47:14 AM , Rating: 2
This is what's known as a "fishing patent". I seriously doubt Seagate has even a working prototype of such a drive, much less plans to bring one to market.


RE: Too complicated to be feasible
By patentman on 7/3/2006 9:10:25 AM , Rating: 2
1. There is no such thing as a "fishing patent," and if you think there is, you know nothing about patentlaw.

2. I have met and/or talked to a lot of the people who develop hard drive technology at Seagate, including Dieter Weller. Chances are they either do in fact have a prototype or are close to producing one. This technology might not come out for another five years, but that doesn;t mean it will never make it to market. Hell, 5 years ago I examined and allowed a lot of the patent applications that now protect Seagate's perpendicular recording technology, and that just came out commercially this year.


RE: Too complicated to be feasible
By masher2 (blog) on 7/3/2006 9:39:28 AM , Rating: 2
> "1. There is no such thing as a "fishing patent," and if you think there is, you know nothing about patentlaw."

There most certainly is. As for my knowing about patent law, I have a quite a few myself, both in the US and the EU. Patents are, unfortunately, very regularly granted for ideas that are little beyond the concept stage.


RE: Too complicated to be feasible
By Some1ne on 7/3/2006 4:09:01 PM , Rating: 2
"Patents are, unfortunately, very regularly granted for ideas that are little beyond the concept stage"

How is this "unfortunate"? Patents exist to protect against monopoly, and more specifically to protect small inventors from having their ideas copied by larger firms that can then out-produce the small inventor and both drive them out of business, and get rich off of their idea.

If patents were only granted when an idea had been carried through to the ptototype stage, then you've essentially destroyed this protection, because a small inventor may not initially have the resources to construct a prototype of their idea, and if they cannot patent it given just the concept, then they can't seek venture capital or any other help in developing it, because in doing so they would be exposing their idea to other people with no protection whatsoever, and could very easily be ripped off by anyone with the resources to implement their idea.

If patents were only granted for ideas with a demonstrable implementation, invention would only be practical with the context of a large company, and this is detrimental to innovation, which is why there are patent laws in the first place.


By patentman on 7/5/2006 2:05:41 PM , Rating: 2
"How is this "unfortunate"? Patents exist to protect against monopoly, and more specifically to protect small inventors from having their ideas copied by larger firms that can then out-produce the small inventor and both drive them out of business, and get rich off of their idea."

Patents grant a limited monopoly, so I don't know how they "protect" against monopoly.

"If patents were only granted when an idea had been carried through to the ptototype stage, then you've essentially destroyed this protection, because a small inventor may not initially have the resources to construct a prototype of their idea, and if they cannot patent it given just the concept, then they can't seek venture capital or any other help in developing it, because in doing so they would be exposing their idea to other people with no protection whatsoever, and could very easily be ripped off by anyone with the resources to implement their idea. "

This is true to a large extent. Venture captial is often received once patents are obtained.

"If patents were only granted for ideas with a demonstrable implementation, invention would only be practical with the context of a large company, and this is detrimental to innovation, which is why there are patent laws in the first place."

Yes and no. Patent law is around to encourage invention by everyone, including large firms. Technological development would be greatly reduced if everyone was busy hiding their industrial secrets from others.



By patentman on 7/5/2006 2:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
Well I've never heard the term, and certainly not in the context in which you are providing it. Considering that I've worked as a patent professional in the U.S. for almost 6 years now (including 3 as an examiner at the USPTO in the field of Magnetic Recording media), I will respectfully trust my own judgement and stick to my guns here. Further, the mere fact that you have a few patents to your name doesn't mean that you know squat about patent law.

I'm not going to rant anymore about it on this forum, however, because its like talking to a wall. If anyone wants to learn about the law behind intellectual property feel free to send me a PM on anandtech


By patentman on 7/5/2006 2:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
Patents are never ever granted for ideas, only novel and nonobvious machines, compositions or matter, methods, etc.... ideas are too ephemeral. If ideas were patentable, the laws of physics, algorhythms etc would be patentable as well (by the way, in real life they are not)



By crystal clear on 7/3/2006 10:23:16 AM , Rating: 2
United States Patent Application 20060099461
Kind Code A1
Jones; Paul Max ; et al. May 11, 2006

------------------------------------------------- -------------------------------
Magnetic recording system with continuous lubrication of recording media

Read this patent application for more detailed information
on the relevant site
Abstract
The present invention provides a self lubricating magnetic recording system that delivers lubricant molecules from a gas phase to the surface of recording media at a sufficient rate to cover the exposed media before it can interact with the writing transducer. The environment around the media surface includes lubricant vapor, and when the lubricant film is removed from the disc surface, e.g., upon heating of the medium, it is replaced by adsorption from the surrounding vapor. The lubricant is thus replenished by delivering lubricant from the vapor phase.

Read the above patent application on the relevant site.
Good reading.


RE: Too complicated to be feasible
By patentman on 7/3/2006 9:03:22 AM , Rating: 2
Everything about the controlled pressure, reservoir etc....just means that their is a container with some of the lubricant in liquid for insiude the drive. Due to the vapor pressure of the lubricant, some of the lubriocant evaporates into the gas phase, when the atmosphere reaches saturation, no more lubricant will enter the gas phase until some of the gaseous lubricant comes out of the atmosphere by depositing onto the hard disk (the atmosphere and liquid solution are in equilibrium). Its actually a very simple idea to implement.


By masher2 (blog) on 7/3/2006 9:46:35 AM , Rating: 2
> "Its actually a very simple idea to implement. "

Its simple to implement an equilibrium point, sure. But once the internal atmosphere becomes supersaturated, its going to start condensing...and not just onto the "depleted area", but rather the entire platter itself (and potentially the read/write heads also, unless they're somehow coated to prevent it).


RE: Too complicated to be feasible
By hoppa on 7/3/2006 3:40:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
'm not a scientist, but believe understand a thing or two in basic feasibility. A sealed enclosure with lubricant reservoir of nano-lube + heating laser + precision tolerances + controlled pressure... seems too far fetched for a feasible mainstream technology.


Um, have you ever actually thought about how ridiculously advanced the technology we already use on a daily basis is? We have 1000 DPI laser 150 hz mice, 4 GB on a < 1 sq. inch piece of plastic, 0.5^2in chunks of silicon with 50 million transistors on them... not to mention your current hard-drive, which you deam simple, which has a head floating 10 nm above discs spinning at 10k RPM, moving the head thousands of times per second with mind-bending precision. And all of this can be had for less than $100 a pop. Doesn't sound so simple to me.


RE: Too complicated to be feasible
By maxusa on 7/5/2006 2:47:33 AM , Rating: 2
Mechanics have a long hystory and reached the point of repeatability and reliability necessary for this sort of application. The precision of the head movement and platters with their magnetic layers are the examples of top-notch tech that is mind-bending indeed.

Arguably, the current hard drive technology is very simple in concept. Over time, the tolerances became lower, disk spins faster, and platters now hold more data per sq.inch. Conceptually, however, sealed-assembly hard disk drives kept a striking similarity since 1973 introduction of "Winchester." I believe that HDDs owe its popularity to this fundamentally simpler concept that allows reliability, reasonable production costs, and improvements in capacity/speed.

The anouncement in question appears to complicate the core hard drive concept enough for me to question its mainstream feasibility. Hope this explains my earlier point.


Great!
By Nik00117 on 7/3/2006 5:10:49 AM , Rating: 2
I want to see it happen. Be a great new invention. Imagine 10x thas like 7.5TBS!

And even if this HD lasted me 5 years, i'd be happy. HDs nowadays well most poeple normally don't keep them for a extermely long ammount of time. So 5 to 10 years lifespan on those HDs in my mind is perfectly acceptable as long as its that.




RE: Great!
By Egglick on 7/3/2006 7:06:05 AM , Rating: 2
If they say 5-10, then that means failure occurs after 5 years fairly often. I dunno, but I expect a little bit more than that out of my hardware.

The last thing the hard drive industry needs is a major step backwards in reliability. Unless they can get that lifespan up, I see the workstation and server environments completely balking at this.



RE: Great!
By Great Googly Moogly on 7/3/2006 12:59:42 PM , Rating: 2
Really? You do? I don't expect any PATA/SATA HDD to live more than 3 years. In fact, my last 4 drives (Seagate and Hitachi) have died almost exactly 3 years after their purchase, except for my 160 GB Hitachi 7K250 SATA drive, which died after 2.5 years of use a few months ago.

The only drive I have that has survived more than 5 years is an old IBM Deskstar 25GXP, 15 GB drive, which is still in use as completely unreliable temp drive in my webserver. It's about 7 years old now I think. I had an identical one that died over 2 years ago.


RE: Great!
By Great Googly Moogly on 7/3/2006 1:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
Actually wait, ironically... My 30.7 GB 75GXP lived for about 4.5 years of continuous use... It was better than a WD200JB, Hitachi 60 GXP and Hitachi 120GXP and 180GXP. Must've been the best 75GXP in the world.


RE: Great!
By Squidward on 7/3/2006 4:27:50 PM , Rating: 2
probably was my 75GXP lasted a whole 3 months...


RE: Great!
By m666guy on 7/3/2006 9:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
what would that be worth i mean i can barely fill two 160 gb hds ie one is half full and the other is a third full much less tera-bytes. I just cant imagine that you would ever need that much i mean is a word document going to magically start taking 2mb per page?? ....... i better be quiet and not give anyone any ideas xD


RE: Great!
By maxusa on 7/5/2006 2:23:59 AM , Rating: 2
Corporate and even personal data backups can easily consume terabytes. The stupid tape backups are so lame it's not funny any more. What are the alternatives? DVD, HD-DVD, BRD? So far too expensive per MB and too unreliable. Hard drives are excellent provided the portability, weight, and size is not an issue. Also, HDDs can be linked together in RAID to make huge contiguous volumes.


RE: Great!
By rrsurfer1 on 7/7/2006 10:29:36 AM , Rating: 2
RAID arrays are not safe for backup purposes. I have seen very expensive, top of the line arrays fail and data loss occurs. It's a function of reliabilty of the drives and controller hardware as well as the random chance of failure (possibly of more than one drive at once). We use high-density tape drives to back everythign up, include the RAID array. It's not cheap, but its certainly less expensive than disk-recovery services :)


RE: Great!
By InternetGeek on 7/5/2006 7:21:59 AM , Rating: 2
This is correct. An average engineering project can produce around 300k documents. But in this sense documents doesn't only cover word documents but also CAD designs, Images, Photo, Lists, etc. Then there's also the revisions, prodution copies, etc etc etc.



this just in....
By Quiksel on 7/2/2006 8:46:44 PM , Rating: 5
KY Brand announces an investigation into the legitmacy of Seagate's lubrication "innovation", reportedly considering a patent-infrigement case against the hard drive manufacturer. Rod Johnson from KY Brand issued a statement: "We've always been about protecting our brand from potential infringement, and with such a huge company in a market like 'Hard Drives', this is especially close to our own market. We are pursuing legal action against Seagate unless they are planning on licensing our technology for use in their products."

Seagate has not issued an official statement regarding Rod's comments.

:)




RE: this just in....
By shabby on 7/2/2006 10:27:52 PM , Rating: 2
Seagate has come to a resolution with KY Brand about its lubricated hard drive. KY Brand will now be the only seller of "Seagate approved" lubrication refills for its new hard drives...


RE: this just in....
By tk109 on 7/3/2006 12:12:50 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe both companies can just cross license with each other. With nano-tube personal lubrication your women will be able to handle 10x the capacity too ;)


RE: this just in....
By Xavian on 7/3/2006 12:15:51 AM , Rating: 2
indeed, i agree. HDD's are probably the second slowest component people replace (Monitors probably is first), people quite often keep HDD's for more then 5 years, so this is little scary that you have a predetirmined date in there, when the nano-tube lubrication runs out and you lose all of your data.

If they are gonna do this, i hope this put some kind of sensor in the HDD to give the current lubrication levels in the HDD (like ink-cartridges) and the software to check it.


RE: this just in....
By Xavian on 7/3/2006 12:16:40 AM , Rating: 2
this reply went onto the wrong comment (problem with these boards i believe.

This was meant for the comment under this one.


RE: this just in....
By MarkHark on 7/3/2006 7:35:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
your women will be able to handle 10x the capacity too ;)


Won't this just make our "hard drives" look 10 times smaller? ;)


Lifespan
By Alexstarfire on 7/3/2006 11:58:00 AM , Rating: 2
Apparently you all keep forgetting that the lifespan of the lubricant will depend on how much you use your HDD. I think it's safe to assume that the more you use your HDD the more lubricant will be used, thus lowering the lifespan of the HDD, and vice-versa. 5 years would be if you used your HDD a lot, probably not constantly though, and 10 years would be if you rarely used your HDD. I'm sure if this comes out we will hear about either lubrication refills for your HDD and/or HDDs running out of lube within a year. I'm also sure that if you never used the HDD that it'll last nearly forever.




RE: Lifespan
By masher2 (blog) on 7/3/2006 12:04:09 PM , Rating: 2
> "Apparently you all keep forgetting that the lifespan of the lubricant will depend on how much you use your HDD"

Not neccesarily. After all, remember the lubricant is continually being refreshed through the action of the drive itself. The lifespan is probably limited not by usage, but by losses due to osmotic seepage during the gas phase. And that could possibly be a constant factor, regardless of usage.


RE: Lifespan
By dgingeri on 7/3/2006 1:03:25 PM , Rating: 3
likely the lubricant lifetime would depend on the altitude of the usage, where it would last longer in Chicago than Denver.

A drive may last 10 years in Chicago (at sea level, or very near) while it will last 7 in Denver (a mile or more in altitude) and 5 years in Lima (even higher than Denver, but I don't know how much).

They also mention that the lubricant evaporates, not degrades. therefore, it would just add to the vapor pressure of the existing and be redeposited elsewhere in a later phase. not really a problem.

The problem I see is that we don't really know what widespread exposure to nano particles would do to a person. it could cause cancer like asbestos or something. It might become a hazard later on where 'old' computers would have to be disposed of in a special manner in order to keep the nano particles contained, like lead based paint and asbestos is dealt with today, but much more dangerous since nano particles can penetrate plastic containers easily, and cannot be filtered out at all. Seagate is going to have to be extremely careful with this or they might be responsible for too much more than it would be worth to them.

While this is a laudable achievement, it needs to be watched carefully.


RE: Lifespan
By Squidward on 7/3/2006 4:38:35 PM , Rating: 2
...totally off topic but the last two replies knocked down my geek status to depressingly low levels.




limited lifespan
By InternetGeek on 7/2/2006 10:43:18 PM , Rating: 3
As cool as this is I don't quite like that it gives the HDD a fixed life-span.




RE: limited lifespan
By robert5c on 7/3/2006 12:56:35 AM , Rating: 2
well 5-10 years is a big gap...so not really a FIXED lifespan.

also this technology is still being developed so perhaps they can overcome that issue

and lastly...umm most harddrives only last 5-10 years anyway...so how would this be any different...i've had many harddrives start to lose data or sometimes just die...get a screen from my motherboard telling me it can't access the physical drives...and the drives either don't spin anymore or click click click all the way to the garbage can...thats wish you had RAID.


RE: limited lifespan
By Hydrofirex on 7/3/2006 4:48:50 PM , Rating: 2
I think the point is that it's stupid to take a product and build another way to break into it. Especially for a product for which reliability is so critical. Yes, refill's are one way to go about this - but I'd rather we all decided that we won't buy something like that (Do drive manufacturers really need another way to get our money?). They've got all the data on their own drives and should be expected to use basic statistics to make fluid breakdown infinitely more improbably than mechanical breakdown. It should be so improbably that your drive would not breakdown from mechanical issues before running out of fluid that they don't need a sensor - which would still be nice so that the system could even warn you. Just another layer of reliability built in instead of the opposite.

Can't we just get to the holographic storage? When you need to lubricate your computer hardware you know you're really pushing it. I think the earlier comments about KY and Seagate's law suite really do manage to underscore how far we're having to go here.


Oh Yeah Baby !
By icered on 7/3/2006 3:39:26 AM , Rating: 2
Oh Yeah Baby !

The way this works sounds very cool enough but i still doubt the reliability of such mass consumer devices. With the platter spinning so close to the read/write head(almost coming into contact according to the article) can't even minor shocks scratch the platter surface? (=bye bye, data)




RE: Oh Yeah Baby !
By patentman on 7/3/2006 9:05:09 AM , Rating: 2
Well, considering the average hard drive already employs a magnetic head that floats on a cushion of air ~10nm above the platter surface, this concern is present in current hard disks as well. The whole point of the lubricant layer is to ensure that the head doesn't get stuck on or scratch the platter.


RE: Oh Yeah Baby !
By InternetGeek on 7/3/2006 10:27:44 AM , Rating: 2
This is correct. Even under a leasing contract companies think it twice before upgrading their servers. Adding the cost to rotate HDDs because they are due to expire won't be received well, unless Seagate has it planned for customers to have their HDDs in for an oil change. Which is not cool either.

If you ask me I think this HDD will evolve into a HDD thats completely filled with fluid. It might provide the same advantage of bigger capacities plus some others like thermal dissipation.


What if?
By crystal clear on 7/3/2006 6:54:25 AM , Rating: 2
If the recording head crashes into the surface,then the whole disk becomes useless.

Source-Leaking hard drives.
Newscientist.com/inventions

The above argumnent ,inspires the heading -WHAT IF?




RE: What if?
By patentman on 7/3/2006 9:12:12 AM , Rating: 2
As I said above, the whole point of the lubricant layer is to prevent the magnetic head from sticking to the platter surface or scratching it as it floats along.


not for me
By Wwhat on 7/4/2006 12:49:49 PM , Rating: 2
There's a technology I'll wait 3 years for results before I'd use it to see if it doesn't mess up data, I have a sneaking suspicion it will.
HD's are already too hot now they add friction and a heatinglaser? sounds like an idiotic idea to me.




Nice lubricant
By wiiz3rd on 7/10/2006 3:13:05 PM , Rating: 2
Imagine the $$$ Seagate will generate if they venture into the condom business.


Little part doesn't flow
By Howard on 7/2/2006 11:05:43 PM , Rating: 2
"Seagate will also be introducing a heating mechanism such as a laser, to heat up a small area of the platter is heated which allows..."




this too shall pass
By trexpesto on 7/2/2006 11:47:17 PM , Rating: 2
sooner rather than later perhaps?




Erm
By Nik00117 on 7/3/2006 10:50:26 AM , Rating: 2
I see the points, however maybe the catrigdes will be replaceable and you merely need to replace them every few years to be safe to ensure that the lubricate stays there. Its still a interseting development in HD technology and can lead to a lot of improvements. As for the server side I see your point, but the avg home PC user doesn't retain data on his PC for more then a year on the norm. I've rarely seen a PC with a file that was stored on its HD more then a year ago.




bummer
By dgingeri on 7/3/2006 11:29:53 AM , Rating: 2
I guess this means it is going to become dangerous to take apart bad hard drives that are also out of warranty. I have so loved doing that. I guess since it's going to be aobut 5 years to come out and a 5 year warranty, it will be another 10 years before I get the chance anyway.




lasers huh
By highlandsun on 7/2/2006 8:19:36 PM , Rating: 1
Sounds like they're about to re-invent magneto-optical media. Maybe they should just license Sony's Hi-MD recording technology. (Oh wait, Sony doesn't license that to anyone, because of their idiotic proprietary business model. Never mind...)




"If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." -- SCEA President Jack Tretton

Related Articles













botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki