British researchers may have created the evolutionary step between current hard drives and solid state disks. Called the Hard Rectangular Drive (HRD), this new device primarily consists of three components: a double-sided "platter" of magnetic material mounted between two laminate read-write "heads" like a thin sandwich. All three components--joined by additional sets of three above and below--are lubricated and housed within in a standard 3.5-inch drive casing.
According to Register Hardware, the read-write layers actually comprise of millions of read-write heads aligned into a grid; the layers use the same lithography process used to make silicon chips. A signal is passed along the corresponding column and row in order to control a specific head. However, it's the magnetic middle layer that actually moves horizontally--accomplished by using piezo-electrics--that allows the stationary head to read the designated sector.
DataSlide, the group behind the research, said that the current version features 64 heads that can read or write simultaneously. Eventually, the technology will be able to achieve 160,000 random read/write IOPs (Input/Output Operations Per Second) and a 500 MB/sec. transfer rate. The HRD only uses 4W of power, a third of the power consumed by HDD, half of the typical SSD.
DataSlide is currently working on the new technology for commercial use, with plans to license the technology to storage manufacturers and other companies. Currently DataSlide is unable to provide a street date.