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Beyond PMR: 3D Tower Hard Drives

By - Source: American Institute of Physics | B 18 comments

Researchers at Spintec claim to have found a way to push the boundaries of traditional magnetic hard drive recording technology once again.

An approach called 3D Towers is believed to reach to a density level well beyond 1 Tb per square inch.

The original Winchester magnetic recording technology was generally believes to hit a density of about 250 Gb (per square inch), but the move to perpendicular magnetic recording open the way to about 1 Tb, which will be reached with two to three years, according to industry expectations. At that point, the hard drive industry may have to move to further enhancements, such as heat-assisted recording technologies.    

However, it appears that scientists have found another way to avoid the expensive move to heat-assisted approaches one more time. Spintec demonstrated "several magnetic layers" to move beyond today's PMR hard drives.  

"Our new approach involves using bit-patterned media, which are made of arrays of physically separated magnetic nanodots, with each nanodot carrying one bit of information," said Jerome Moritz a researcher with Spintec. "To further extend the storage density, it's possible to increase the number of bits per dots by stacking several magnetic layers to obtain a multilevel magnetic recording device." From the press release:

"Moritz and colleagues were able to demonstrate that the best way to achieve a 2-bit-per-dot media involves stacking in-plane and perpendicular-to-plane magnetic media atop each dot. The perpendicularly magnetized layer can be read right above the dot, whereas the in-plane magnetized layer can be read between dots. This enables doubling of the areal density for a given dot size by taking better advantage of the whole patterned media area."

The researchers released an image of two-bit-per-dot patterned media, but there was no information when such storage media could actually be produced.

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  • 1 Hide
    kewlx , April 22, 2011 1:03 AM
    That would b e awesome.. but how much farther will the density go? I mean will it get like 4TB per sq. in.? but either way probably by then SSD will have some nice big capacity blocks to take up the HDD space..hopefully. HDD are really slow but the benefit of huge sapce for so little still pulls me in though I have yet to own a TB drive I will soon get 2 TB external and 1 TB internal and shift OS over to a 80 GB SSD and slap another 128-256GB SSD for games and programs and media items will resides on the 1 TB and temp files and trash on the 640GB I have now.
  • 3 Hide
    bv90andy , April 22, 2011 1:50 AM
    hdd space has continuously grown for many years but i've been waiting for a breakthrough like this. no matter how much i upgrade, i am always with no free space .
  • 2 Hide
    cmashwin , April 22, 2011 2:52 AM
    @mayank... The space required is mostly for that.. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    danwat1234 , April 22, 2011 5:50 AM
    "Our new approach involves using bit-patterned media" .. NEW? No... I've been hearing about bit-patterned media and HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) technologies for years.

    I think SSD capacities will not be able to attain the same capacities as HDDs of the future due to limitations of transistor shrinkage, unless they can just make the silicon dies inside the flash chips a lot larger without making them super expensive and power hungry. Also, perhaps, NAND will not be the end-all solution to solid stat storage..
  • 3 Hide
    virtualban , April 22, 2011 7:55 AM
    cmashwin@mayank... The space required is mostly for that..

    It's the stash for when the internet goes down *nods approvingly*
  • 2 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , April 22, 2011 8:03 AM
    virtualbanIt's the stash for when the internet goes down *nods approvingly*

    Never can be too prepared for these solar storms, right?
  • 1 Hide
    virtualban , April 22, 2011 8:15 AM
    right :D 
  • 0 Hide
    alidan , April 22, 2011 11:14 AM
    i have a psp and a 1gb stick with pics just in case of a power out.

    that said, how big do we really want a hard drive?
    how much data do you want potentially GONE?
    we have backups... yes WE do, but when did you start making backups... the first time you lost data

    for me it was the wipeing of a 5gb hdd... at the time, that was EXTREMELY devastating, but thankfully most of it was easy to refind, and i happened to burn off most of the hard to get stuff for a friend, who never took the disc.

    how many people are going to have their first hdd wipe be of a 1tb+ amount?
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , April 22, 2011 11:19 AM
    danwat1234"Our new approach involves using bit-patterned media" .. NEW? No... I've been hearing about bit-patterned media and HAMR (Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording) technologies for years.I think SSD capacities will not be able to attain the same capacities as HDDs of the future due to limitations of transistor shrinkage, unless they can just make the silicon dies inside the flash chips a lot larger without making them super expensive and power hungry. Also, perhaps, NAND will not be the end-all solution to solid stat storage..



    i believe that the 6-9nm is the limit based on current science. we are at what, about 1.50 at a 32nm process, buy doing math 1gb will cost 28-42 cents a gb at current pricing rates. that number will probably be far less.
  • 0 Hide
    virtualban , April 22, 2011 11:32 AM
    alidani have a psp and a 1gb stick with pics just in case of a power out. that said, how big do we really want a hard drive? how much data do you want potentially GONE?we have backups... yes WE do, but when did you start making backups... the first time you lost datafor me it was the wipeing of a 5gb hdd... at the time, that was EXTREMELY devastating, but thankfully most of it was easy to refind, and i happened to burn off most of the hard to get stuff for a friend, who never took the disc. how many people are going to have their first hdd wipe be of a 1tb+ amount?

    My first "data being rendered inaccessible" happened on a 486 with a 150 MB (MB, not GB) SCSI drive, in which, the computer itself died and the hard drive was there, sitting pretty, and unable to be put on a normal IDE drive. I recovered the data about 6 months later going to professionals because none of my friends could find a SCSI controller that matched my drive. Irregular backups on other drives and other computers came since then. Losing a 10 GB and 60 GB drive a couple of years later was like: meh, their time had come.
  • 2 Hide
    jgutz2006 , April 22, 2011 12:41 PM
    why does anyone have to lose data these days? anything of importance should be backed up 2+ times. Like i have data drive in RAID config (OS is Vertex2 SSD @ 256gb) I then have mirrored mapped drives in servers for their own types of data. My data and data on server mirrors also syncs with external hard drives over network (Synology NAS drives are absolutely amazing if you want full AD intergration, more options that you can shake a stick at, and amazing performance) and then critical data that cannot be replaced i also burn to BD or DVD and store in fireproof safe. Then you can have that same data easily stored on flash drives, and web storage (or i absolutely HATE ppl saying "On The Cloud") the price of this media nowdays, theres really no reason to lose data
  • 0 Hide
    Marco925 , April 22, 2011 1:59 PM
    I mirrored my drives
  • 1 Hide
    retrig , April 22, 2011 4:30 PM
    Douglas, please f*cking proofread your articles!
  • 1 Hide
    shushikiary , April 22, 2011 6:24 PM
    BPM (bit patterend media) isnt going to happen soon. To do it you have to re-tool your ENTIRE factory, at the cost of billions of dollars. The only way it would happen is if EVERYONE in the industry agreed to go to it at the same time.... which so far has happened, and no one will take the step alone.

    There are.... other ways to increase media density which will be used first. One I cant talk about at the moment, the other is 4k sectors on disc which is much more efficient. Windows 7 and newer, linux, and all unix builds support 4k sector alignment for 512 byte sectors from the host, and also 4k native (which is/was supposed to be enacted this year... but i dont see it happening at the moment). 4k disc sectors let you get more density out of the same current tech due to format efficiency. You've already seen a few 4k drives out there... some of the ones that are sold to to the customer are 4k already they just dont know it (it's not advertised loudly), so I wont say which ones.

    Anyways, the point is, BPM is just as far off as heat assisted.
  • 1 Hide
    eddieroolz , April 23, 2011 2:38 AM
    Its mind-boggling. I think magnetic drives will be useful for a longer time than anyone can imagine.
  • -2 Hide
    dalauder , April 25, 2011 3:19 AM
    This system sounds like writing will involve more mechanical parts. How will this affect speeds and reliability?

    Once everyone has 100Mbps Internet, Hard Drives for storing movies, pictures, & music will be obsolete. Right now it's too slow to upload/download stuff like that that wastes space. But why will anyone want more than 10TB in 5 years?

    I'd prefer to let online Servers handle backing up my large files while I backup just a couple hundred megabytes (documents & good photos) at home. Nevertheless, this will be helpful in the price of Server data storage when it eventually reduces cost/GB.
  • 0 Hide
    dalauder , April 25, 2011 3:22 AM
    To add to what you'd use at home...we'll all have 1TB SSDs in 3 years. That may kill magnetic drives for the average consumer.
  • 1 Hide
    palladin9479 , April 29, 2011 7:27 AM
    Nahh cause by the time you have 1TB SSD you'd also have 10TB HDD's and big programs will be 100GB. There will always be a need for large local HDD's. And working on data "on the cloud" is a complete joke. Webstorage is good for backups and data sharing, but its hella high latency and unreliable access.