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HGST claims double-density hard drive breakthrough

HGST claims double-density hard drive breakthrough

HGST's nanotechnological breakthrough will lead, the company has claimed, to spinning-platter drives with double the data density of today's models.

Western Digital subsidiary HGST, the storage giant formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, has announced a breakthrough in its nanolithography process that will lead the way to spinning-platter hard disks with double the data density of today's models.

Combining two existing nanotechnologies - the concept of self-assembling molecules and nanoimprinting technology - the company has been able to create large areas of densely-packed magnetic 'islands' only 10 nanometres, or around 50 atoms, wide. That's a serious breakthrough: using the concept of patterned media, which stores data in individual uniformly-printed magnetic cells rather than across numerous grains of a traditional magnetic coating, a drive using HGST's new nanolithographic process would potentially offer at least double the areal density of today's best drives.

For magnetic media, that's important: traditional spinning-platter drives have long lost the performance war to solid-state drives (SSDs,) and as the price of the latter continues to drop it will become increasingly rare for users to pick a traditional drive as their boot device. Instead, hard drives will likely become relegated to mass-storage devices where their key advantage - a dramatic price differential for terabyte and larger drives over the far more expensive large-capacity SSDs on the market today - can be exploited. A technology that doubles this capacity in the same form factor as today's drives, then, is key to the technology's future.

'As creators of the original hard disk drive, we are proud to continue our heritage of innovation with today's nanotechnology advance,' crowed Currie Munce, vice president of HGST's research arm, at the announcement. 'The emerging techniques of self-assembling molecules and nanoimprinting utilised at the HGST Labs will have an enormous impact on nanoscale manufacturing, enabling bit-patterned media to become a cost-effective means of increasing data densities in magnetic hard disk drives before the end of the decade.'

The announcement expands on work done by HGST on self-assembling block copolymers, which can be printed onto a surface and then assemble themselves into the uniform array required of patterned media on a master nanolithographic plate ready for imprinting on magnetic platters. The technology isn't quite ready for commercial exploitation, however: the challenge lies in how to prepare the original surface in order to allow the block copolymers to assemble themselves in the very specific radial and circular paths required of a spinning-platter hard drive - something HGST claims to have solved using a combination of line-doubling and nanoimprinting.

The result still isn't production-ready, however. The company has admitted that today's announcement provides 'a roadmap for how to cost-effectively create the magnetic islands at densities much beyond today's capabilities,' but admits that it will likely be towards the end of the decade before its first double-capacity bit-pattern hard drives roll off the production lines.

11 Comments

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Christopher N. Lew 1st March 2013, 19:48 Quote
I got quite excited about this until " isn't quite ready".

Still - first post. Yeah!
ArthurB 1st March 2013, 20:06 Quote
When can we start calling them Western Digital? That first sentence is a bit of a mouthful.
Noob? 1st March 2013, 20:16 Quote
8Tb, 10Tb HDD's?

Wonder what the warranty will be like? Not what it use to be.
Goty 2nd March 2013, 00:52 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noob?
8Tb, 10Tb HDD's?

Wonder what the warranty will be like? Not what it use to be.

Well, since those are just 1TB and 1.25TB respectively, I'd expect they're probably around the same length as those for 1-3TB today. ;)
edzieba 2nd March 2013, 09:39 Quote
I guess I'll wait for High Density HDDs...
adidan 2nd March 2013, 12:39 Quote
They're looking towards the end of the decade? Alot can happen tech-wise in 7 years, much that will no doubt make this announcement pointless.
Jimbob 3rd March 2013, 22:18 Quote
One day when we get down to Picometer then femtometer manufacturing, then what? Does the Integrated Circuit end? The mind boggles
yougotkicked 4th March 2013, 06:22 Quote
for once my interest level didn't drop off entirely when i read that the tech was far from market, magnetic storage is one of the few markets where I've seen radical new tech adopted quickly and effectively (perpendicular recording).

@Jimbob: at some point in the next few manufacturing shrinks we will have to go sub-atomic via spintronics (using electron spin to represent bits), can't imagine what comes after that, maybe nothing, but i doubt it.
Griffter 4th March 2013, 10:17 Quote
in a decades time we will be able to store data in our living tissue. pls come sooner.

imagine, living tissue, when u want to delete certain data u just need to take a shower :P ha
ferret141 4th March 2013, 11:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimbob
One day when we get down to Picometer then femtometer manufacturing, then what? Does the Integrated Circuit end? The mind boggles

As yougotkicked said we'll start using Quantum Physics.
Acanuck 4th March 2013, 15:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goty
Quote:
Originally Posted by Noob?
8Tb, 10Tb HDD's?

Wonder what the warranty will be like? Not what it use to be.

Well, since those are just 1TB and 1.25TB respectively, I'd expect they're probably around the same length as those for 1-3TB today. ;)

If I had a penny for every time someone makes that mistake ....
The net is full of them: downlaod speeds being described in millibits per second (mbps) in stead of Megabytes per second (MB/s), GPU clocks referred to in milli hecto zepto (mhz) , rather than MegaHertz (MHz) ... even Windows measures file sizes in Kelvin Bytes.

If you're really being picky, I'd argue it's HDDs, not HDD's.
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