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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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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

"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay
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