Grain-Based Magnetic Recording Could Give Us 50 TB HDDs

The goal is to increase the maximum storage density of a technology that is, in its very basics, almost 40 years old.

About 20 years ago, the industry believed that traditional horizontal magnetic recording techniques would top out at a density of about 100 Gb/square inch. 15 years ago, Seagate began experimenting with heat-assisted recording technology acquired with Quinta, which promised up to 250 Gb/square inch, but was able to push the boundaries up to 250 Gb/square inch in regular magnetic recording -- until the current perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) arrived in 2006, which is now believed to take the industry just over 1 Tb/ square inch.

Seagate, for example, is working on heat-assisted magnetic recording again, but there may be another opportunity: Grain-based magnetic recording, which apparently allows up to 10 Tb/square inch. In more common terms, this would enable hard drives in the range of up to 50 TB for 3.5-inch models.

According to an article over at X-bit labs, this technology would be "storing each data bit in a single magnetic grain of the thin film of the recording medium, rather than in several grains as in conventional hard drives". Initial test results at the A*Star Data Storage Institute appear to be encouraging and are good enough to be considered for a future magnetic recording type, which could enable the industry to elude, once again, the rather expensive move to heat- or laser-assisted magnetic recording.


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  • mikenygmail
    50 TB? Finally, enough for all my large file needs. :)
  • axiler
    That's a lot of space for porn..
  • Prescott_666
    The first hard drives were 5MB, but I didn't get one of them. My first computer that could actually do something useful was an Osborne II with 2 5 1/4 inch floppies which ran the CPM operating system.

    My first hard drive was 20MB, and that was somewhat later.

    A 50TB drive will have 2 1/2 Billion times the storage that my first 20MB hard drive had, and 10 Billion times the storage that those 5MB hard drives had. And the 50TB hard drive will cost a small fraction of what the 5MB, 10MB, and 20MB hard drives cost. You may not be impressed, but you should be.
  • Other Comments
  • Onus
    A dumpster is a lot bigger than the can under your desk, but all it holds is a lot more garbage.
  • inerax
    Fun thing is people will find a way to fill it. People said i would never fill my 3tb.... I got news for them. I may have lots of junk but I still filled it.

    Wonder what tech is next for mass storage.
  • mikenygmail
    50 TB? Finally, enough for all my large file needs. :)