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Seagate plans to triple areal densities within two years

At the IDEMA DISKON show in Santa Clara, California, Seagate demonstrated a magnetic recording device with a whopping 421 Gbits per square inch density.  To put that in perspective, the company recently announced 160GB 5400.3 2.5" perpendicular notebook drives that have an areal density of 135 Gbits per square inch. Toshiba, the current commercial density leaders, recently demonstrated 2.5" hard drives with areal densities of 188 Gbits per square inch.

Seagate CEO Bill Watkins claims "Breakthroughs in areal density are enabling the digital revolution and clearly indicate that hard drives can sustain their advantage to meet the world's insatiable demand for storage across a wide range of market segments."

According to the press release put out by Seagate, the company claims a 1.8" disk drive produced on the same 421 Gbits per square inch technology would result in a 275GB hard drive. 2.5" drives on the density would level out around 500GB, and fully fledged 3.5" hard drives would be able to house a density of 2.5 terabytes.  Perhaps even more exciting is that Seagate "anticipates that solutions at these density levels could begin to emerge in 2009."

The leap to such densities would result in a three-fold increase of current areal densities. However, Seagate isn't alone in this race.  Earlier this year Hitachi put out a press release claiming we would see 1TB holographic drives from the company before the end of the year.  However, both companies use Komag as the primary supplier of their high density platters -- and it should not be a surprise if we see 1TB hard disk drives as well.

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By maevinj on 9/15/2006 5:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
It's great they can/will make these huge drives, but what about the access speeds? I mean it'd be great to have all that storage but if it takes to long to access it then what's the point?

RE: speed?
By ydgmdlu on 9/15/2006 6:29:07 PM , Rating: 2
You don't get that the greater the capacity, the faster the drive? Greater areal density allows for the drive head to travel less to read the data. This is why if you compare the 750 GB and 500 GB drives to the 250 GB and 200 GB drives, there's a noticeable speed difference that's not due to more RPMs or larger cache. Of course, the speed boost assumes that you keep your monster drive properly partitioned and regularly defragged... or else face an access time nightmare.

RE: speed?
By Motley on 9/16/2006 2:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
Actually throughput is a function of the arial density. Access speed is a function of RPM and how fast the head moves track to track and settle (for hard disks). Access speed while it has improved, it hasn't improved at the rate that arial density/throughput has.

RE: speed?
By patentman on 9/18/2006 8:04:10 AM , Rating: 2
Increases in areal density do not necessarily translate to increases in access times. At higher areal density, intergranual exchange coupling becomes more of a factor (in essence, signal to noise ratio increases as areal density increases), which means that it may take more time for th head to determine the true signal from the surrounding noise.

I really wonder how Seagate has managed to overcome this problem. I used to examine patent applications related to magnetic media, and this was a huge issue from 2000-2003. The solution then was to engineer the recording layer such that non-magentic elements, e.g., Cr, Pt, or Ru segregated into the boundary between magnetic grains, such that each grain was magnetically shielded from the surounding grains. I knew this could increase areal density, but I didn't think it would allow us to get to ~500 Gb/in2

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