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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.

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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.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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