Toshiba quadruples hard disk aerial density

BT junkies finding it hard to contain their excitement

The Association of People who Stockpile Digital Recordings of the Tasteful Expression of the Human Form, or APSDRTEHF (they are rumored to be voting on a new name in the near future), received word of an amazing feat of storage engineering today.  Toshiba is presenting a paper at the 2010 Magnetic Recording Conference in San Diego today outlining their research and successful implementation of a new technology that can cram a staggering 2.5 terabits of information into a single square inch of platter real estate.  For the layman, that’s over 300GB of information stored on a surface the size of a postage stamp.

This impressive feat is made possible by using an extremely dense track of 17nm self-assembling polymer dots, with each dot representing a single bit.  Toshiba claims that this is the first time anyone has been able to control a read/write head over such a material, but at the same time they have not shown that they can actually read or write data to the material just yet.

Skeptics out there (namely other hard drive companies), claim that the process Toshiba is showing off today is not viable for mass production any time soon.  They say that the tools to produce such a monster cost effectively simply do not exist yet, and they are looking to other methods such as “heat-assisted magnetic recording” to increase aerial density in the mean time.

To leave you with some food for thought, a standard 3.5″ hard drive platter has approximately 8.4 square inches of recordable area per side, and modern high capacity drives generally have three to five platters in them. With the new technology announced today, that could potentially yield around 25TB of storage capacity in a single 3.5″ drive.  No exact word was given as to a timeframe for such technology, but Toshiba speculates it could make it to market sometime in 2013.  From a slightly different angle, if the current hard drive capacity trend line continues unabated we should be seeing drives of this capacity sometime in 2015 or 2016, but who are we to doubt a corporate time-to-market estimate. S|A

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