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Hard disk capacity can sextuple with ‘pinch of salt’

Hard disk capacity can sextuple with ‘pinch of salt’

12TB 3.5in hard disks are now a possibility. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Researchers in Singapore have discovered a way to increase hard disk capacity six-fold by using sodium chloride (also known as chemical-grade table salt), according to Wired.

The new idea ‘ditches the idea of inefficient patternless clumps [of nanoscopic grains] and instead make slightly larger grains (ten nanometres, up from seven to eight nanometres), in regular patterns, which each store one bit.

This is an improvement over the current arrangement, which uses clumps of ten grains for each bit of data. A spokesperson for Singapore’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) said, ‘It's like packing your clothes in your suitcase when you. The neater you pack them the more you can carry.

The salt enhances the effect of the e-beam lithography process used to pattern the platter of a hard disk, as it produces ‘nanostructures with a much higher resolution: down to 4.5 nanometres half pitch, without prohibitively expensive equipment.

The salt method has already produced platters with a areal density of 1.9 terabits per square inch and 3.3 terabits per square inch is said to be possible, the latter is a six-fold increase in data per area.

Fed up of having to use three disks where one will do, or do you already have more storage than you could possibly need? Let us know in the forum.

52 Comments

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Hustler 20th October 2011, 12:55 Quote
"have more storage than you could possibly need?"

My experience is that the more storage you put in, the rate you download increases exponentially....mostly with crap you would never have been bothered about had you not got the space available.

Ever increasing broadband speeds doesnt help either....

I've managed to nearly fill a 1.5TB drive in just over 9mths, when previoulsy, a lowly 500gb lasted nearly 2yrs..
Claave 20th October 2011, 13:00 Quote
I hope you've done that legally, and you're not setting yourself up for a dawn raid from the copyright police... :D
Landy_Ed 20th October 2011, 13:01 Quote
Will need new chips be made available to support this?
Landy_Ed 20th October 2011, 13:02 Quote
<oops>glad I didn't point out the incomplete quote with my last, would have been even more embarrassing
Spatlap 20th October 2011, 13:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler
"have more storage than you could possibly need?"

My experience is that the more storage you put in, the rate you download increases exponentially....mostly with crap you would never have been bothered about had you not got the space available.

Ever increasing broadband speeds doesnt help either....

I've managed to nearly fill a 1.5TB drive in just over 9mths, when previoulsy, a lowly 500gb lasted nearly 2yrs..

Another -often overlooked- reason is because the data itself has changed as well. Especially video material: it's all much better quality, and thus much bigger files. Simply because it more feasible with bigger consumer hard drives.
Mentai 20th October 2011, 13:20 Quote
I'm sure Hustler is talking about all those Steam games + backups clogging up his hdd.

My first question regarding this improvement is, does it apply to SSD? Because I couldn't care less about having massive storage drives (although bluray rips and flac music collections do take up a fair bit of space), I just want to be able to put my games folder (Steam) on a fast drive that can actually fit more than a few games at once.
Claave 20th October 2011, 13:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mentai
My first question regarding this improvement is, does it apply to SSD?

No, it's not a NAND flash technique, it's a bits on a platter technique - mechanical hard disks only.
Lance 20th October 2011, 13:26 Quote
The first this I thought in when I was this was

"OMG SOMEONE POURED SALT ON THEIR HARD DRIVE!!!"
Blazza181 20th October 2011, 13:26 Quote
This sounds epic, but I already have 2TB. Apart from servers, who really needs more HDD space?
V3ctor 20th October 2011, 13:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler

My experience is that the more storage you put in, the rate you download increases exponentially....mostly with crap you would never have been bothered about had you not got the space available.

I think this too, I'm already at 4Tb, maybe I just got alot of trash in it, but I never thought that I would fill a 2Tb disk so quickly
liratheal 20th October 2011, 13:37 Quote
The more storage I get my hands on the more archives of **** TV shows I seem to acquire.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you, I seem to be the "go to guy" for "that episode of <x> that was really bad, to the stage of funny", and I quite enjoy that.
TheKrumpet 20th October 2011, 13:43 Quote
Would I be right in thinking this'll push down the £/GB ratio of Mechanical HDDs sharply? Because that's never a bad thing (I mean, we can say "I'll never use that much!" but we always do... tell me I'm wrong :D).

However, Kryder's Law becomes somewhat debunked we get a 6-fold increase overnight :D
billysielu 20th October 2011, 13:50 Quote
I use about 300GB in my main PC, no chance of me buying a 12TB HDD!

My next purchase will be an SSD.
Krikkit 20th October 2011, 13:53 Quote
It'd be good to put into a NAS box - imagine a 3-disk RAID5 NAS that can hold 24TB! Awesome. :D
mrbens 20th October 2011, 14:06 Quote
Quote:
Researchers in Singapore have discovered a way to increase hard disk capacity six-fold by using sodium chloride

If it's an increase of 6x on current drives then shouldn't it be 6x3TB = 18TB? Either way I'd love to get hold of some for my unraid server :D

I'll be all set up for when 4K HD videos start to appear which may be 200GB per film.
favst89 20th October 2011, 14:23 Quote
Wouldn't this also mean an increase in read/write speeds too as I though that was related to aerial density, assuming the spindle speed is the same. Allowing for faster data storage without going to ssd costs.
TheLegendJoe 20th October 2011, 14:23 Quote
DAMNIT... Just ordered my first of 4 3TB HDD's for my NAS : | Ohhh well! :P 9TB's of RAID5 goodness will just have to do ;) (plus the 2TB's already in my pc...)
jimmyjj 20th October 2011, 14:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by favst89
Wouldn't this also mean an increase in read/write speeds too as I though that was related to aerial density, assuming the spindle speed is the same. Allowing for faster data storage without going to ssd costs.

Exactly what I was thinking.
Blackshark 20th October 2011, 15:02 Quote
Chaps, lets remember that 4TB disks are now available and 5 (if you believe a man in a video!) will be available by Christmas. But a significant problem we now have with anything over 1Tb is the amount of error correction constantly taking place. The workload to keep the data being read and written intact is increasing at a much faster rate than the density of the data stored.

I am hoping that when the 4TB disks are available in higher numbers, and maybe the 5, that the 3TB disks drop in price a fair bit. But I must agree with one of the first posts. I have... 20 ish TB of storage and the number of awful B movies, sci fi movies and the like I have collected scares me! Trying to justify buying new disks to expand my NASs rather than clearing out the rubbish.

Yes its only magentic media HD, not SSDs. And yes, the non random read and write speeds will increase as they always do when density is increased. But, as the amount of EC increases and the accuracy required by the head increases, dont expect random read/write to increase at anything like the same pace.

SSDs IMO will increase in size, decrease in price and see moderate increase in performance. But, lets be honest now. We have saturated SATA3 just about. And in the last 5 years we have moved from using 'rubbish old tech' in SSDs to using the best flash and controller chips. So its unlikely we will see significant increases in future.
Action_Parsnip 20th October 2011, 15:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyjj
Quote:
Originally Posted by favst89
Wouldn't this also mean an increase in read/write speeds too as I though that was related to aerial density, assuming the spindle speed is the same. Allowing for faster data storage without going to ssd costs.

Exactly what I was thinking.

It also means things like a 1tb notebook drive with just a single platter. Cheap, small and stonking storage capacity..
play_boy_2000 20th October 2011, 15:44 Quote
I thought the flooding in Thailand was fresh water, not salt?


XXAOSICXX 20th October 2011, 16:07 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by play_boy_2000
I thought the flooding in Thailand was fresh water, not salt?


http://dl.dropbox.com/u/50787/Misc/badumtss.jpg
faugusztin 20th October 2011, 16:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by play_boy_2000
I thought the flooding in Thailand was fresh water, not salt?

Salt increases capacity. Water increases price (looks at WD20EARX price which went from 80 to 100+ euro).
Blazza181 20th October 2011, 16:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by faugusztin
Salt increases capacity. Water increases price.

Therefore, help increase global warming :D
gilljoy 20th October 2011, 16:30 Quote
anyone who needs that much storage must have a hell of alot of porn...
jrs77 20th October 2011, 17:33 Quote
I've got a 2TB NAS where I store all my movies, music and pictures and not even half the space is used so far. So what do I need drives with 12TB for?

It allways amazes me, how much stuff people do collect allthough they never use it
KayinBlack 20th October 2011, 17:40 Quote
I could do everything I do (including a backup of all my old machines) on a 1TB drive with space for more. However, I like this. If I could download, things might be different.
Jezcentral 20th October 2011, 18:14 Quote
In my day, we just punched a square hole in the corner of our hard-drives, do double the capacity, jumpers for goalposts, marvellous, of course it were all fields 'round here....
Fizzban 20th October 2011, 18:32 Quote
Quite honestly I would love the extra space. And no it aint for porn. All these porn comments are old and behind the times. Who actually needs to download it when you can stream it on a hundred sites for nothing?

The space is taken up with blueray rips so I can watch with ease at any time without having to search out the disc, and game installs. I now don't bother un-installing games, so they are there ready when I want them.

Bring on the 12TB drives I say.
thehippoz 20th October 2011, 18:44 Quote
you can always use more space.. uncompressed work.. aftereffects.. heck even fraps xD

there's routinely 20gb files on my drives.. even uncompressed text can reach upwards 50gb
Quote:
In my day, we just punched a square hole in the corner of our hard-drives, do double the capacity, jumpers for goalposts, marvellous, of course it were all fields 'round here....

xD punch it.. dual sided dual density
Farfalho 20th October 2011, 19:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by XXAOSICXX
Quote:
Originally Posted by play_boy_2000
I thought the flooding in Thailand was fresh water, not salt?


http://dl.dropbox.com/u/50787/Misc/badumtss.jpg
This made me laugh hard xD

For me it's good news because I tend to ask and save a lot of anime and tv shows and buying DVD's it's an expensive thing specially when one or two episodes are left out of the pack, meaning a CD must be used.
That way I can store my own digital library!

Claave dont' be picky!
Sloth 20th October 2011, 19:22 Quote
When I first bought my 1TB hard drive I thought it was going to be an endless pool of storage. Now I've got a full 160GB SSD and about 600GB of the 1TB drive filled. And that's without all of my games installed, I'm still in the process of downloading them all and moving the less critical ones off the SSD. Estimated 200GB more of games, plus the vast wealth of music, movies and TV shows which I intend to eventually rip. 1TB is currently a limitation keeping me from storing everything I'd like to, and 2TB is a stop-gap at best because the collection is always growing. 12TB is currently more than needed for my needs, a pair of 6GB drives (one for using, another for backup) would be more practical, but it'd be naive to say that the future won't likely see 12TB being needed.
Nexxo 20th October 2011, 19:43 Quote
Don't spend space storing what you haven't got time playing.
Star*Dagger 20th October 2011, 19:44 Quote
Id like to see the end of all things electro-mechanical in a PC, SSDs and thumb drives, get rid of CDs and DVDs also.

No moving parts please!
Sloth 20th October 2011, 19:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
Don't spend space storing what you haven't got time playing.
Or, don't spend time re-downloading what you could already have had stored.

At the current $/GB large capacity drives are readily accessible. A 1TB Spinpoint F3 is down to $65. The convenience of having everything you could potentially want to play (or watch, or listen to) stored on your PC at all times is relatively cheap.


To be honest, I didn't know it was that cheap until looking it up. May add one in on my next order.
lizoron 20th October 2011, 20:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lance
The first this I thought in when I was this was

"OMG SOMEONE POURED SALT ON THEIR HARD DRIVE!!!"

bahhahahaha
shanky887614 20th October 2011, 20:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler
"have more storage than you could possibly need?"

My experience is that the more storage you put in, the rate you download increases exponentially....mostly with crap you would never have been bothered about had you not got the space available.

Ever increasing broadband speeds doesnt help either....

I've managed to nearly fill a 1.5TB drive in just over 9mths, when previoulsy, a lowly 500gb lasted nearly 2yrs..

larger drives are better for backup


id rather have 4 cheap £50 drivers in raid for backup's than 1 or an ssd
Waynio 20th October 2011, 20:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
Id like to see the end of all things electro-mechanical in a PC, SSDs and thumb drives, get rid of CDs and DVDs also.

No moving parts please!

What so like no fans or pumps even lol :D, can't really see it happening on a gaming rig, it would get too hot.

Completely passive rig would be nice though I agree, TheGnu is making 1 & it's so damn cool in the form of an 8-bit 1-up mushroom :D.

I like the idea of massive hdd's but I don't like the idea of a massive hdd dying & losing a hefty amount of data, bad enough with a 1tb drive dying, could really have a fantastic compact gaming/media rig though with a huge drive so I'd be keen to have 1 for media & an ssd for os & a regular 1tb hdd for games :).
Unicorn 20th October 2011, 21:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by gilljoy
anyone who needs that much storage must have a hell of alot of porn...
Quote:

Made my day! :)

Seriously guys, one more time; "alot" is not a word. It never has been, it never will be and if it was a living breathing thing, it would euthanize itself, because it's just not correct.

On topic, drives with that capacity would never make it into my network. Losing one disk with 12TB on it would ruin me. Right now I have a large file server and a NAS to back it up. They are both 5TB+ and pretty full now, but I'd rather expand them with 2TB or 3TB disks because that's the sweet spot for desktop hard drive capacity in my opinion. I think that anything higher than that introduces too much data loss risk.
metarinka 21st October 2011, 00:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicorn
Quote:
Originally Posted by gilljoy
anyone who needs that much storage must have a hell of alot of porn...
Quote:

Made my day! :)

Seriously guys, one more time; "alot" is not a word. It never has been, it never will be and if it was a living breathing thing, it would euthanize itself, because it's just not correct.

On topic, drives with that capacity would never make it into my network. Losing one disk with 12TB on it would ruin me. Right now I have a large file server and a NAS to back it up. They are both 5TB+ and pretty full now, but I'd rather expand them with 2TB or 3TB disks because that's the sweet spot for desktop hard drive capacity in my opinion. I think that anything higher than that introduces too much data loss risk.

I think one day we'll look back at 1-3 TB hdd's in the same way we look at 1-3GB hdd's. wow so small.

I agree that data capacity is outpacing data redundancy. But in some level it really isn't. I have 3 1TB hdd's, 2 are in a mirror as backup and the other one is by itself. so I only have 2tb but they all information is on at least 2 HDD's. I think this will end up being the path in the future. Some things like Blu ray rips etc aren't "critical" data in that they are readily available, my home pictures and video are much more critical and I always keep them on multiple sources.
Bladestorm 21st October 2011, 00:32 Quote
Of course if you can increase density sixfold you can potentially have the same 1TB or 2TB drive for something approaching one sixth of what it costs now. Probably also in a much smaller drive with faster access too?
Anfield 21st October 2011, 01:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazza181
This sounds epic, but I already have 2TB. Apart from servers, who really needs more HDD space?

Every kind of data increases in size, operating systems? each time microsoft releases some windows 7 updates you download more data than what years ago used to be a entire OS, downloading a new driver? they used to fit on a 1.44MB floppy, these days they easily hit 100MB, have some music stored on your pc? change from highly compressed garbage ehh mp3 to flac, remember the days when Games where sold on a single cd? these days you easily download 20GB from Steam for a single Game, take some photos? gone are the days when they where stored in paper form in some box but instead eat up harddisk space.

Then there is of course always porn.
rogerrabbits 21st October 2011, 02:56 Quote
I don't really need any space. I have about 2.5tb because I used to horde stuff. But I now get all my music on Spotify so I don't need any music on my computer now, I just stream it when I want it. For porn I can get that online now on some really good youtube style websites so I dont need to have a secret stash of that. As for video, I used to collect that too but a lot of what I watch now I watch on On-Demand web channels. There are some bits I download but I tend to just watch that and delete it, and if I ever want anything again, I can download so fast now that I get it quickly anyway.

So all I have on my disks now is installed games and even with several of those its only like 100gig or something. So my 2.5tb is hardly used now.

When I did used to hoarde, my issue was that if I bought a cool new 2tb disk and filled it with nice stuff, I was then concerned that if it died.. I would have masses of stuff to replace and I wouldnt know what was on it and it would take forever to recover. So I ended up then wanting to back it up and that means getting two 2tb disks... So almost every time I upgraded my storage I felt like I wanted to double it to backup :( But I'm glad now I hardly have anything stored on my pc anymore.
philic51 21st October 2011, 03:29 Quote
Currently have 4Tb storage consisting of 2X2Tb hard drives in a media center....and already runnign at 15% free space! I welcome the introduction of these drives!
antiHero 21st October 2011, 09:08 Quote
w00t more space is always good. Then I could rip my entire music collection lossless, only took my 1,5 years last time. (it`s all on vinyl)
l3v1ck 21st October 2011, 11:37 Quote
In the ideal digital world we'd all have our entire film collection in full HD quality on HDD's to be streamed to our TV's..... So yes, we always need more capacity.

Certainly in the short term I want to see larger portable HDD's. 1.5TB just isn't enough.
fluxtatic 22nd October 2011, 07:12 Quote
Yes, bring them on. the 2.5 TB in my desktop already feels a little thin, and adding another 2TB when my server is done won't help enough, as that means I'll finally have enough space to back up everything. I still remember, not so many years ago, when I got a PC with a 3GB drive and I was quite sure I'd never fill it. Of course, that was long before video or even mp3s were common. Now I have over a terabyte of just music and video. It'd be delightful to be able to put back on HDDs what I ran out of space for and burned to DVD, too.

Incidentally, before ripping to FLAC, test it. It's entirely unnecessary for the vast majority of people. It's a limitation of human hearing itself - in a blind test, you would not hear the difference between FLAC and a 320k ABR mp3 done with a decent encoder. Try it yourself, even - take the same track ripped to FLAC and high-bitrate mp3 or ogg and have someone play them back to back so you don't know which is which and see if you can even hear a difference. It's the same sort of mentality that leads to things like Monster Cable. Seriously, look into it. A tiny percentage of people might hear a difference, but 99% of the people who insist FLAC is greatly superior have been misled and/or are misleading themselves. Especially once you're over 30...if you have buttloads of space, go for it. For those who don't, there's a perfect way to get some space back.

Oh, wait - once I can get a 12TB HDD for $60, I'll re-rip my entire freaking collection to FLAC. Maybe twice, since I'll have so much freaking room! :D
Unicorn 22nd October 2011, 16:20 Quote
I properly started my digital music collection about 6 years ago, when I got my first iPod and was (now gratefully) forced into using iTunes. My MP3 library now stands at well over 750GB, with another 300GB of a 1TB+ video collection in the iTL as well, for Apple TV streaming. My FLAC library is about 400GB but there's an awful lot still to put into it, it grows by a few gigs every day. I have 150GB of 720p music videos as well. Yeah, I'm a data hoarder. What of it? I love my media collection :)
debs3759 23rd October 2011, 04:35 Quote
12GB? I'll take 10 to go in my HAF 932.

Seriously though, I would buy 1 (or 2, for RAid, so if 1 fails I still have the data!). I seem to be buying at least 1 new HDD each year, so something that large might last me a few years (unless I start downloading every torrent in sight!).
thil 23rd October 2011, 06:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hustler
"have more storage than you could possibly need?"

My experience is that the more storage you put in, the rate you download increases exponentially....mostly with crap you would never have been bothered about had you not got the space available.

Ever increasing broadband speeds doesnt help either....

I've managed to nearly fill a 1.5TB drive in just over 9mths, when previoulsy, a lowly 500gb lasted nearly 2yrs..

Aye. Everybody knows that all data is gaseous: it expands to fit the container it's put in.
grevaeg 24th October 2011, 09:02 Quote
Hmm.. there will allways be too much material out there... so having enough space aint a option ^^

48tb and counting on the home server... yet only 40gb free -.-
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