Seagate said on Monday that it has become the first HDD manufacturer to achieve the milestone storage density of 1 terabit per square inch. It was accomplished by using heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) instead of the traditional Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) method. This achievement is expected to pave the way to 3.5-inch HDDs with 60 TB capacities possibly just over a decade away... if we're even using hard drives by then, that is.
"Hard drive manufacturers increase areal density and capacity by shrinking a platter’s data bits to pack more within each square inch of disk space," the company explains. "They also tighten the data tracks, the concentric circles on the disk’s surface that anchor the bits. The key to areal density gains is to do both without disruptions to the bits’ magnetization, a phenomenon that can garble data."
Yet by using HAMR technology, Seagate said that it has achieved a linear bit density of about 2 million bits per inch, resulting in a data density of just over 1 trillion bits, or 1 terabit, per square inch -- 55-percent higher than today’s areal density ceiling of 620 gigabits per square inch.
Seagate said that the first generation of HAMR drives, at just over 1 terabit per square inch, will likely more than double the capacities of the largest 3.5-inch and 2.5-inch hard drives on the market today, resulting in 6 TB and 2 TB drives respectively at the very least. With a theoretical areal density limit ranging from 5 to 10 terabits per square inch, capacities will likely reach to 30 TB to 60 TB for 3.5-inch drives and 10 TB to 20 TB for 2.5-inch drives.
"The growth of social media, search engines, cloud computing, rich media and other data-hungry applications continues to stoke demand for ever greater storage capacity," said Mark Re, senior vice president of Heads and Media Research and Development at Seagate. "Hard disk drive innovations like HAMR will be a key enabler of the development of even more data-intense applications in the future, extending the ways businesses and consumers worldwide use, manage and store digital content."
Seagate achieved the 1 terabit per square inch breakthroughs in materials science and near-field optics at its heads and media research and development centers in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Fremont, California.