Archive for March 27th, 2012

Multiplying storage capacity

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 by Roberto Saracco

From time to time I post a news tracking the progress in storage capacity, in line with the never relenting Moore’s law that has given us MB, then GB and now TB of storage in our hard drive (that is a factor of 1 million increase over 25 years, better than Moore’s prediction for chips).

One of these advances is the bettering of Millipede, the idea from IBM to heath up a tiny spot on a magnetic disk to store a bit and keep it stable once the heath dissipates. Some progress was made two years ago by engineering a particular reading head.

Now Seagate has announced the availability of an engineered process for heating a spot as minuscule as 25 nm across, something that allows the storage of 1 TB per square inch, opening the way to 60 TB hard discs.

A rendering of a beam of light heating a single bit

The heath-assisted magnetic recording, as shown in the picture, makes it possible to use very low magnetic field to read and write a single bit, thus leaving the nearby bits unaffected. Only the magnetic area that is being heated, with a laser pulse lasting 1/10000 of a second, can respond to that change in magnetic field.

This requires a magnetic compound made of a platinum-iron alloy, whilst current magnetic disc surface is made with a cobalt-iron alloy.

Although a prototype is now available, it has to fight against the biggest brier of them all: the one of economics. It has to become as cheap as the current technology to find a market. That will take few more years. According to Ed Gage, principal technologist of “head and media” R&D at Seagate, this technology will hit the market in 2015, three years from now with products supporting up to 60 TB of storage in the same package of today’s 3.5″ hard discs and from that moment on it will follow the same curve of decreasing price/increasing performances as we are used to.

That will really bring the Big Data into our homes!