Hard drive breakthough could herald mega-capacity drives

By Ed Oswald | BETANEWS Published August 19, 2010, 3:31 PM

…Toshiba said Wednesday that it had made a breakthrough in hard disk design that will allow hard drives to have much higher capacities than what is currently possible today. The research is in something called bit-patterned media, a magnetic storage technology.

The recording surface is broken up into tiny magnetic bits, each of which can hold a single bit of data. The bits are made up of several grains, which are organized in rows. This organization is what makes it possible for data to be found easily.

Bit-patterned drives could hold some 2.5 terabits of data on every square inch of recordable space. Contrast this with the highest densities that Toshiba has currently been able to squeeze out of current technologies — 541 gigabits — and the company’s breakthrough seems even more stunning.

Such a breakthrough would mean a current standard 3.5-inch HDD could hold at least 8 terabytes of data, far above the current limits of 2 and 3 terabytes. The technology is still a good ways off though: Toshiba doesn’t expect the drives to hit the market until 2013…

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